Painting the river

bucket in the river

The river this morning is a dark & glistening thing. It reminds me of the tar I spread onto a flat roof two days ago: so glossy, smoothing only by a little the pocked & pimpled surface underneath. I spread the tar with an old broom for a brush, sweeping back & forth to work it into the cracks. It was abstract expressionism at its best.

Little Juniata meets I-99

The two spans of the interstate highway cross the river without getting their feet wet. The riverbank beneath them is a desert, littered with empty beer bottles & cans of spraypaint, & filled with the muffled echoes of tires banging over the seams in the roadbed & the fluttering of pigeons in the strutwork.

end of capitalism

A fresh batch of graffiti on the concrete piers touts anarchy, marijuana, & hallucinogenic mushrooms. It’s an attractive thought, to get stoned & stare into the water until the rumble of traffic turns into another river, & those distant abstractions the government & capitalism seem ready to give way & crumble into the current.


But the only graffiti artist with any skill appears to be working on his or her self-branding, so to speak: the tag Selph appears in half a dozen places, each in a different style. I picture a sylph-like creature, a pale goth who flits from one stoned friend to another, wrapping herself in the glossy wings of the night.

This week’s Poetry Thursday prompt was “rivers” (see the other responses here). Since I had to go into town this morning anyway, I took my camera along. I’m not sure I ended up with a true poem, but what the hell — it was a good prompt.

8 Replies to “Painting the river”

  1. Poetry? Definitely. The tar and the traffic are surprising illustrations of “river;” I like this a lot: stare into the water until the rumble of traffic turns into another river

    Very nice.

  2. There is a place under overpasses and bridges where life has its own rhythms. It’s like a secret that only gets told at night, whispered, and then painted on the very structure itself. Pieces of poems everywhere.

  3. Very evocative combination of photos and words, especially the staring into the water until the traffic becomes another river, I love that sense of being so lost in the moment it all becomes one. I like the little goth figure who comes in at the end too.

  4. poetry in the way the words fit and flowed, poetry in the melding images, poetry in the ampersands –

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