A collection of kayaking poems by Peter Karwacki Other Poems by kayaky

A novel: Zen and the Art of Whitewater Kayaking

The Bad Swim Kayak Heaven in the Drain to Hell Exorcised Demons at Hell's Gate
Les Amis de Hydro Quebec The White and the Light   This Old Boat
Seven Sisters Unthinkable on the Rouge My Hollywood
Tabaret Kipawa Rally Spin City
Just Instinct Another NOLAC Rally Unhappy Hollow
The Drop River Moments The Surf
The Strange Odessy Brotherhood of the River At First Light
Sunset Paddle The University The Silver Sea
Move To the Light Passionate Paddle Breath of Whitewater
The Presence of Mind Paddle Haiku Birth of a River
Angel's Kiss Crash and Burn Share the Wealth
Big Joe River Eyes Friends in rough water

The Bad Swim

I'm in my boat, a trusty craft, shines yellow with the sun
Surely its an awesome day for another river run
The cloudless sky is fresh and clear, the birds call from the trees
I hear their cry and sense the wind, there's something in the breeze

My gear's all checked, the helmet's on as paddle starts to flick
Paddling up the eddy line I pass through current quick
And waves are crashing on the deck, I fight to stay on top
The rapid's sound is deafening as I peel behind a rock

So nothing's really happening but there's tension in the air
Just sitting in a kayak in an eddy
over where the water pauses briefly with horizon line in sight
where yonder past its shadow is the river splashing white

At last the moment has arrived as I've paddled to the brink
I hear the roaring of the maw, the pouring of the drink
I'm headed for the action, where my path has told me - go then
hurtling forward there I see the crashing smashing flow

And now the pace accelerates in fact all time will stop
When dealing with a carnal force, and elemental toss
The sky is gone, my eyes are white, I'm gripped by God himself
Where all the world converges in the river's vengence dealt

I'm bracing right and leaning left then buffed both to and fro
There's water, water everywhere in this huge hydraulic hole
The lights are out, the paddle's gone, the skirt
no longer seals the water from the inside of my sunken tumbling keel

My luck is up, I'm out of breath, its time for me to go
To pull the plug, and swim for it, with hell to pay, I know
It's not to far to swim to shore, if shore would just stay put
But shore's not where it should have been, the last time that I looked

A safety vest at times like these is blessed curse disguised
Reversing current pulls me back despite my many tries
At once I'm up and breathing air both flushed and sucked and then
Into the maw that put me here it pulls me down again

Strength is gone, I can't go on in drowning hole machine
I have to take the damn thing off to exit from the scene
And with one final gasp of air I head to Davey Jone's And crawl along the bottom
past recirculating zones

The time is now, swim on somehow
to surface where I see as catching breath
my kayak has recircled back to me
Somehow the Gods are smiling and I hang on for dear life
There would be no tomorrow without deathgrip hand like vice

Down, Down I float I'm floating down the current floats me down
Away, away to rapid's end where others have me found
who pull me from the worst of swims a paddler's ever seen
Collect the boat and paddle too then exhausted let me be

I'm sitting near my kayak but too stunned to speak or move
Too numb to even think a thought about the life I choose
Til finally I will find a way and get back in that yellow boat
And paddle on to who knows where, or why or when I'll float


back to the top

Kayak Heaven in the Drain to Hell

Flowing waxen pools of water boiling as they travel onward
silent power seething deeply within current as it keeps me
Reflections blurred, though momentary, broken by the surface carry blue of sky and white of sun mirrored as they fall upon this sea of change
and river wild which never sleeps or is docile

Paddle left as moving right then counter next in endless fight with river magic down below
and mother nature as she flows
a slippery, glassy, glossy slick is water yet looks none of it It speaks of oil and rolls and boils
as if a fire burned under lit
As if the very bowels of hell were giving birth with every swell
And unseen demons surely dwelled within each churning swirling well

Then shocked at once as looking skyward circles funnel whirling downward
Satanic hands have seized my grabloop twirling fast on current's lasso
So prayers go up dispatched to Jove to free me from this watery cove
Hoping that the water's pull is measured by my kayak's hull I brace upon cyclonic waves to right my boat and somehow save
This paddler from a sudden flip in dark descending blackened slip

But spinning enders now I play as suction fails to hold my weight And shooting upward bow's away! I hoot and howl as if to say "Catch me death - but not this way! I may be yours but not today!"


back to the top

Exorcised Demons at Hell's Gate

The last time that I saw the Gates That Hell was misery
But floating down just yesterday Found peace inside of me
The waves I saw were not so high The current not so strong
Even though my boat was tossed and my wetsuit was still on

I had struggled with those demons and they hid behind the rocks
They didn't just get craftier Because I knew the plot
The time had come to rearrange The images I hold I don't see things now the way I did
Perhaps I just got old.

These are not the gates I knew was my experience down the drain?
Time has changed the way I feel! I can't take that run again
I've paddled through the gates before and it doesn't look the same
The water isn't different So I know it's me that's changed


back to the top

Move To the Light

Surfing, and blasting, and spinning we play
As sunlight is sparkling on water in May
where tumbling in bubbles we kayak away
rolling in rapids where most never stay
Glimpses of downstream may cause some a fright
When suddenly flipping, lose colours from sight
Like daylight in darkness where everything's white
just light within blueness, like night only white
moving through whiteness we reach for the light
We're reaching, and stretching then stabbing with might
tucked in the kayak and bracing in tight
Timing the movements in rhythm so slight
We break through the surface to colours so bright
The sweet air's above us as river delights
White upon white with our paddles we fight
Must move it, move through it, and up to the light
moving to brightness we reach through the white
To break through the surface and colours, all right
We're breathing in sweet air to river's delights
Whitewater frolic which many may like
It's whiteness in blueness and blueness in white
In water on water, adding brightness to life


Back to the top

Passionate Paddle

A day like no other is soaked by sunlight and high spring water
With a sky rich and blue, intoxicatingly drenched by the rapid's spray
Rivers run within river, they come and go, this way and that
with chaotic precision in this natural wonderland I marvel at
warmed by the deep solar heat of a rocky cragg
apple in hand, thoughts in my head, bliss in my soul
Treated to exotic chemicals induced by light, wind and sounds
found only here
Shouts of pure joy from paddlers there
and the roar of water meeting rock and water fills the air
I'm at peace restored by faith in this place,
swaying and bobbing on a restless eddy or
riding impossibly on a wave,
vibrating my bones with its pure velocity
the stationary focus of a wild parabola,
then unceremoniously tossed by a rogue rivlet
as if to say, nature's balance does not include kayaks

Up on lunch stop's crests then down into their troughs
I've looked upstream to take a mental snapshot
in that vast second the river poured a lake
relentlessly in my direction,
while in my mouth there's barely a swallow
Colloseum awaits my quickening pulse
while drawing me in like a magnet
Funneling inwards, waves crashing on either side
of its glassy tongue luring me into the gapping maw
lying just out of sight
But away I go to left or right, high and dry,
unseduced until the next time I try
To the gawkers I wave , while tearing through the boiling eddyline
eyes are wide and I can feel the ender coming on
all at once
Raising my paddle triumphantly,
no longer sitting in my boat but standing in it
letting go a whoop of pure ecstasy
Then suddenly, upset, I'm as one with the fish,
looking for the sun reaching for the light,
ripping through the surface to the sweet river air
To colours somehow more bright
in happiness they flare
So twirl the blades as they dip and clip the water
in restless succession
Giving back to the river only tiny whirls in return
for hours of bracing and rolling on its waves
Just wavelets and weaker currents greet the end of the day
the river is quiet and lazy from the way that we've played
Floating down in late afternoon, there's barely a stroke required
I'll turn and look back reflecting on that most
passionate paddle.


Back to the top

A Breath of Whitewater

After zipping and popping and snapping my way
into rubber and nylon and plastic today
I slide into current and head out to play
in water that’s foaming and rushing away
And furiously pulling and stabbing my paddle
and leaning to current it seems not to matter
That entering and bracing will keep me aloft
in a torrent of essence that tosses me off
And looking up calmly around me are bubbles
I reach toward sunlight and safety from troubles
And catching my breath again there I go madly
setting up sweeping and breath again gladly
However it looks to you I’m out here smiling and crashing
and flashing without even trying
And forces of Nature are pleasantly plying
to knock me down, pop me up, flush away dying
But even that fear of it wont keep me from staying
on the river and water and current I play in
Because splashing in water just seems purifying
and the more that I do it the more I keep trying
To find a new balance with the world that I live in
and paddling on whitewater is my way of giving
A new way of seeing our place on this earth -
its hard and its cruel but for what it is worth
A playground for people who having the means
can live life more fully while keeping it clean
And besides its while paddling away in the sun
I’m alive in the wind and the froth having fun
No stopping or thinking - my soul’s simple fodder
just tempting the fates and first breath of whitewater


Back to the top

The University

A river's running in the wild to challenge man or beast
Its currents sweeping rocks and trees
cascades through canyon's deep
a place where few will ever go - liquid sililoquy
as its flowing to Superior as the University

Its pristine water's cold and clear, its verdant banks are treed
From black spruce forest watershed begins this restless stream
gathering brooks and mossy creeks as winter turns to spring
Until as one they surge beyond Algoma's peaceful wing

And men have died upon the Dog, the name the natives gave
somewhere in a rapid's shoal, slipped to their watery grave
There's little wonder life could end far from civility
beneath the raging torrents of the University

Ojibway spirts of the Lake called Gitchee Gummie speak
beckoning to those who search with deep abiding need
To caste away in plastic boats, it's challenge that they seek
Set out to paddle source to mouth each spring eternally

Men who know what value lies in silence of the north
Who've sat for hours upon its shores have felt the water's force
Would never question hardships faced, no other place they'd be
No other current tests their nerve like University's

From urban caves and suburbs come the paddlers one by one
Their boats are packed with just enough til paddling trip is done
From Broken Bridge on Paint Lake road ten miles from nothing meet
the brother's of the river who prepare to launch their fleet

Poggies for their fingertips, and faded PFD's
Neoprene to keep them warm, and booties for their feet
And silent prayers to guide them on beyond that which they see
They slip into the calm black pools of university

With helmets snapped they steel themselves for rapids lie ahead
they know the falls and waves have left some other paddlers dead
But running deep and silent here one asks "how can this be?
that Hell is breaking loose somewhere and just ahead me"

By noon the pace is picking up, whitewater finally
Screaming round a rocky bend, strains through an evergreen
Wrong place, wrong time, a tree like that could kill quite possibly
They've sipped the flowing flavour of the University

All paddlers move in step this time ferry in synchrony
Ominously quiet now they breath less easily
Rapid after rapids rush in class both two and three
And never once a place to stop, they flush continuously

With every league the route exceeds each run that came before
requiring faith and skill they must boat scout them more and more
Eddy hopping side to side slide down stream nervously
They'll find no other way to run the University

Across the sky the sun has set and light draws from the trees
with darkness closing fast they port to find a moment's peace
To gather strength and rest their heads they lay their weary bones
camped out along the river's edge among its rocks and stones

and while they sleep per chance to dream the rapid's roar is clear
They're crashing through the waves and surf, the ones they lie so near
So muscles twitch and flex all night and cramp reflexively
A paddler has but little rest on University

Another day now deep within mad Dog's sanctity
The flow has changed to waterfalls that drop precipitously
Narrowed by a canyon's walls the route is never clean
just as soon as one is run another falls is seen

until at last they reach the peak at heights of Dennison
Which cascades down three hundred feet a kayak's never run
Its here the birches are immense, five men go round a tree
Their isolation grew them thus on University

Shouldered boats must somehow pass
along this rocky shore to reach the base of Dennison
and paddle on once more
along the cliffs a rope is slung left hanging years ago
Each one is left to weigh its risks, the strength of it's unknown

halfway down that desperate slope with choice a luxury
To right the falls, to left a cliff around them's all they see
The steepest drop they'd ever climb, on shores so slippery
There is no quick and easy route on University

Each step is measured one by one until they reached the end
where rushing rapids surge once more and circle round a bend
swept along they're looking back and hope to rediscover the beauty of the place they'd been - its rugged restless wonder

The mind is seized upon the sight of water flowing free
No turbines whirring underground to make electricity
but deep within the stomach's pit, the temptation's there to see
one day they'll want to stop the flow of university

Superior lies a mile ahead, along the banks they wander
just paddle strokes to keep them straight as river flow meanders
The Lake's great depth that never warms has chilled the flow beneath them
the air that held the scent of moss and trees no longer greets them

Twenty one kilometers by Gitchee Gummee Sea
Northeaster's blowing off the shore, wave motion constantly
Pebble strewn and sandy beach grace Great Lake majesty
Reward enough for those who've come to University


Back to the top

Sunset Paddle

A solemn end to worldly frames concludes another day
Upon a river moment as the light begins to fade
Sitting on the water, kayak paddle in his hand
Watching for the sun's retreat with shadows crossing land

A waxing moon and solo star had joined the evening sky
with reflections of the city streets that pulsed and hummed nearby
Catching gulls that swooped and climbed with light upon their wings
In magical perfection which the river's sunset brings

Darkness hadn't fallen, but it was getting hard to see
held there by the moment and the stillness he believed
Were mystic paddlers watching as the sun began to set
echoing encouragement for feats undone as yet

Echoes from inside his soul that cried out desperately
Don't sun go down before its time, don't leave him mournfully
while restless river rolled along he could not wait for dawn
His life was overflowing though around him all was calm

Another day, perhaps his last had come and gone again
There was no way to keep the past, no way to stop the pain
Of separation from the thing that had always been the way
Along the edge of water where he passed so many days

Years had passed him in his boat, now change was in the air
A sunset like no other was to make him more aware
Of the restless river rolling, and the traffic on the street
of time enough for living and for paddling while he breathed


Back to the top

The Shining Silver Sea

I cupped my hands and reached towards the silent silver sea
which shimmered in the distance with a crystal clarity
And pureness flowed and sparkled there for a moment in my soul
Temiscamingue transformed itself while shining in its shoals

The Spirit of the Lake had spoke and told me so much more
Than words alone could capture or that I had seen before
familiarity had bred contempt or was it nonchalance?
But Temiscamingue had caught my eye and broken long silence

"You who pass this way must take this world but not for granted!
A precious gift imparts to you - upon this earthly canvas
As painted by the ONE's great hand its breadth you now receive"
Temiscamingue cupped dazzling transformed by sunlit dreams

But one could never really see this work until that moment
Capturing not this sparkling truth, or imagining its spirit
No fractels spinning off in space in great beyond contain it
or forces that had led them there in time enough to claim it


Back to the top

1999 a strange Odessy

The more things change, the way we see them stays the same
But things aren't happening normally in amusementville
Somewhere battle supervisors plan a recap
Officials of Bubbleh confer under the gull and cross paddles resources have been diverted from the great Boat Hysteria
Fists slam mightily on tables, somebody ought to be whacked with a paddle
The Rec resistence has assembled and there's no lack of amiability
At the height of the dam are lined Kamakazis Bonzai, bonzai - divebombing one after the other
In this crazy world they live better and tell the tale
Further on down, troops muster swinging to their right flank
Hitting the beach for their first look at the action amateurs and empressarios are, one by one, crashing and burning
Water does not douse their flames Beside clutters of stones lay gaunt washed out arborial skeletons Big white storm troopers march down stream, with white eyes, and white helmets
There's the roar of Cromanian Zealots ringing in the ears
Overhead a squint eyed assault by solar blistex defying gravity, tank units are geting sucked counter current
Two piece phasors are locked and loaded, ready to stab the foaming beast
To no effect - it laughs them off
One personnel carrier overturns amidst all of this
With one finger on the eject, one hand on a prayer book The thing rights itself to the cheers of fanatics on the shore
War correspondents cross notes unable to believe their own eyes
All the while lovely senioritas line the rocks in their finest bikinis
Someone will be lucky tonight


Back to the top

Brotherhood of the River

The river bred a family with the passing of the hours
Time we've spent together testing mental strength and powers
Since finding meaning in the days when paddling was unknown
The sky now paints fresh colours - ones I'd have never seen alone
We are brothers of the river and we hear the river's call
The roaring of the rapids on the rivers great and small
traveled roads to find them, scanned from bridges rocks and trees
Uncommon lust for life and love and curiousity
All from different places found the river made us free
swept us to the future where together we will be
Paddling joined us brothers since we've shared the waters force
Now the waves will take us higher than we've ever been before
I've seen your spirits soaring and I've joined you on that plane
Skirted danger by a hair then laughed like we're insane
times when one was shaken - missed a roll or eddy turn
popping up between the waves saw confidence and nerve
clinging to a grab loop like a hand reached out from far
could not help but love you,
river brother that you are
You knew me on the water told me not to fear or hide
but challenge limits that I'd set which kept me on the side
"You can't let fear defeat you when its in you to succeed
Just do the things you know you can and on the waves you'll be
" I've seen your wide eyed wonder when the others seemed so calm
and triumphed on the water needing naught from anyone
I saw you making clutch rolls with a smile that warmed my heart
It made me think of times back when I had my water start
So we are brothers on the river fate has brought us to the flow
we never question what we do and words could never show
The miles we traveled shuttle, butts were square when cash was low
The bars we closed, and quiet times when friendships could still grow
Uncommon ties that bind us at the cost of liquid gold
paddling in the brotherhood , whitewater tales we've told
Seen the heron swoop and dive, the loons have tricked us too
along the shores of Kipawa and Gaulley River Cruise
Surfing on the glassy waves our boats have crossed and danced
Moving with the river's pulse, Stroked water with our hands
Do you recall Big Sandy when we shot the waterfall?
Thrilled at running Pillow Rock, as paddlers loved them all
Now days are getting longer and the sunlight's warmth is felt
I'll be waiting for you brothers as the ice begins to melt
The feelings shared have been intense, they bubble from the core
The sport that means so much to us, will takes us out once more
the river's calling brother can you hear it call your name
come and join me paddlers we'll be paddling it again
When the river's tide is running high and current's flow is wild
we'll be crashing through the surf as one with joy and peace inside


Back to the top

At First Light

A gaunt grey moon is swimming in a humid summer sky
The river rushes wildly as we listen to it rise
The night is young, the scene is full, enchanting to our eyes
As warmed by crackling sauna heat - into the lake I dive

Nylon zippers zipping on the curious tented flies
We're giddy running from the dock and naked as we try
to skip across the sumptuous grasssy carpet where we'll lie
a night of dreams and soulful peace at that instant realize
into this verdant garden of the spirit we've arrived

Where tips of waves leap, froth and crash intimidatingly
come shafts of light that pour across cascading imagery
The misty river's calling as the sun begins to creep
Above the pines that kept us through the sunrise - so we'd sleep
Through sun lit dew which washes every morning ankle deep
To Christmas children waking - pushing bedrolls from their feet
Who catch first glimpse of heaven that we'd come so far to see
Stirring deep emotions and whitewater energy

Wonder at the river god that made a place so fine
who brings us here to breath it in then return again in time
Happy faces smiling back are nodding knowingly
Hoping that its power will be as kind while paddling
They'll reach the source and contemplate a run of everything
Connecting souls to water, down the river of their dreams


Back to the top

The Drop (ode to Tae)

On rocky steps, beside the flow while overlooking drops
below one deep in contemplation may attempt its rapids any way

An age old question crosses mind when concentration's left to find
the crashing waves and rocks untold
You're safer here, but should you go?

It's never wise to back away from risk or fear that's overlaid
ones skills and talents any day or let them wrestle choices made

But crazy whirls of thoughts and doubts and visions one could do without
bar victory over countless holes or hazaards there as yet unknown

A simpler choice could not be found except the answer's so profound
because it lies beneath the skin and cockels of the heart within

It matters not what others say
You'd live to try another day
And would you ever live it down
when others did but didn't drown

Or if lesser fate was in the cards
Just broken bones or paddle shards
The choice remains a choice that's marred
To paddle now or swallow hard.


Back to the top

River Moments

Oh I have paddled In the stillness of morning
When the only sounds that mattered were ones I alone had made
Those of water dripping lightly on the mirrored flow beneath me
or the distant rush of rapids rising slowly up to greet me
One auspicious break of day

In the clean air of that dawning saw the tree lined shores reflecting
with each gentle paddle prodding and my kayak bow there nodding
calmly on its metronomic way
Followed changing multi-coloured paths that beckoned
while inviting me to the edge of restless water where I had come to play
one misty morning moment on a river far away

And I have paddled In the full great glare of daylight
With crashing waves splashing and dancing too loud to think or speak
Once my fateful choice was made
submerged with the turbulent flow with no hope of calm
beyond its frantic frothing chaos which vyed to overcome me
Upside wrong while struggling to the air
faced another drop hammered and pegged by unfriendly rocks
then summarily spat out at the bottom of that troubled sea of white
contemptuously ejected from the mele
some worse for wear and tear
not welcomed to return no matter what day
one nasty God forsaken moment on a rapid best left far away

Still I want to paddle
how long I've felt that way
through the fullness of time From alpha to omega
on a river run its course
Bingo through its eddies and spiral down its canyons
Rise up upon the waves to hear their lusty roar
down and over each glassy face
feeling the river stream through my hands
the pulse of earth, wind and fire together
and though only for an instant
absorb its pure aquarian energy
at that most glorious river moment
and endless summer day


Back to the top

The Surf

Look ahead squint eyed at the whiteness
at the sureal surf
Beautiful but unkind
It will embroil you
unconcerned by your need for oxygen
no regard for the way your limbs work
while attached
Its beautiful, white and growing
Surging and exploding
On the street
throught the gates
up the walk
on the doorstep
suddenly in the living room
with its feet on the sofa
Kicking you around
in a warm and swirling etheral womb
from which you are constantly reborn


Back to the top

Just Another NOLAC Rally

Down the trail a jeep goes by,
descending where we used to try
to carry up our heavy loads, 'cause that was the only way

And everywhere a tent was pitched,
where people drink and talked a bit
They flatten grass lying over it, and wonder at it all

Does the day grow near when we won't see,
the mightly Kipawa?
Whose waters running free and strong
sing us a restless song.
So gather round your boats and gear,
and join your arms, fight back your fears
That's the reason we are here, now is the time
to save the Kipawa.

Another time, another place,
where others failed to stop the pace of change
across the countryside 'cause Hydro needed power.
Were other rivers not so fine?
Did others simply fail to find
the mystic values in the wild
and let the dams be built

Would you tell your children you stood by
and let them steal this place?
True nothing ever stays the same -
but she'll just be gone, without a trace!
So gather round your boats and gear
and lock your arms cause we are here
What we do now will last for years,
this is the time, to save the Kipawa.


Back to the top

Just instinct

I packed my gear, pretrip last night
Or was it in my sleep
Items churning in my mind
from checklists that I keep
Memories made when boats were long
and wetsuits were still blue
when all the paddling in the world
was paddling that I knew

My shoreworn boots and rock scuffed lid
Bore scars of yesterday
River damaged through the years
then proudly left that way
Sourvenirs of river trips
Each storied rip and tear
Transport me back in time and place
as if I was still there

Then something distant beckons me
An elemental force
Encircles me and draws my soul
to water as it pours
where paddle felt so good in hand
light water rushes by
Just slipping through a tranquil swift,
the current tells me why

I must go out to boat again
I feel it in my bones
My north is calling south again
and fish are swimming home
I need to hear the surf again
then sleep under its spell
Where dreaming of the days long past
will once again be well


Back to the top

Unhappy Hollow

Slide off the wave into a hole still upright on one side
Surging water in and down trapped by an upstream tide
Unhappy hollow water grave or buoyant parking lot
For hapless those who may check in, and later check out not

Flipping round around they go, with whiteness in their eyes
Gasping, bracing, paddles low and seized there realized
Another time, another place away they'd rather be
Not in this unhappy hollow, or ice river after freeze

How long the restless villain will toss them once again
Then back up where they started just more tired from the strain
While down below the water flows as fleeing from the hole
its secret exit’s hidden, one deep and green and gold


Back to the top


The sky is vast, my blood runs cold, so who will speak for me?
with skin like rock my soul is old, and ancient as the sea
From whence I came the age knows not and source is lost in time
And where I go no end is clear except as ocean's brine
Memories lost pour ever more a wish - a breath exspired
Clock ticks rumbling with the stones within my depths inspired
Measured for a concrete suit and kilojoules of light
overlooked by countless those who'd rather see than fight
Sold for wages and of sin by disembodied drones
Nameless those triumphant boffs of steel and glass -atone!
Could ride my back, explore my ways consume what I have sown
But take not blood away from me from which their life has grown


Back to the top

Kipawa Rally

with apologies to gordon...
The Kipawa River Rally
There was a time in west quebec when the Rally did not run
When the main and river cabins stood alone against the sun
And long before the road came and long before the wheels
Were the white pine forests, then some mormons ...and a deal
NOLAC had its beginnings, when no rapids could be found
They searched the province over with the best back on their ground
They yaked upon the Kipawa and they climbed that killer hill
then built the rally, the trail and websites to this day are running still
And when the paddlers fancy was turning in the spring
The boaters that grew restless for to hear the rapids sing
When banks are overflowing with the runoff of the day
Decided to share the gold with others and as a bonus ...make 'em pay...
For they Looked in the future and what did they see
They saw first class river pouring down to the sea
Paddling was good there on Sorenson's land
All up from US and into their hands
Look away said they go north to this mighty land
Leave the Ottawa and the rafting jams
Bring in the boaters and fix up the trails
We've gotta send down their boats and then tell the tale
Open 'er dam let the lifeblood flow
Gotta get off the lakes cause they''re moving too slow
Bring in the boaters and upgrade the trails
We've got to send down the boats and then drink some ale
Open 'er dam let the lifeblood flow
Gotta get off the lake cause its moving too slow
Get off the lake cause its movin' too slow...
Behind the old sauna the sun is declinin'
The beer cans are poppin at the close of the day
Somewhere in Laniel the town folk are sleeping
But not at the ralley ... or river cabin anyway
We are the NOLACies who work upon the rally
Floggin our t-shirts in the bright mornin' sun
Runnin' on love and sending bad emails
Bustin' our butts till the rally is done
We are the NOLACies who work upon the rally
Floggin our shirts til the boxes are done
Some wake up late and some fail to paddle
but doing it all so the river will run
So take off from work late although its a pain
Break down a few times while driving insane
Up from the cities all the way to Mont Laurier
burn out the rubber and spending our pay
Drivin' 'em in and carrying down
Away to the cabins then back into the town
Fifteen dollars per day for a place for your head
A drink to the river then sleep like the dead

The Kipawa rally is still fun, though the work is never done
On the river bank we stand, against Hydros back room plans
Those are plans we want to spoil, with our teardrops...and our toil...

For there There was a time in west quebec when the Rally did not run
When the lodge and river cabin stood alone against the sun
And long before the road came and long before the wheels
Were the white pine forests, then some mormons and a deal


Back to the top

Spin City (from surf city jan and dean)

I bought a second hand kayak and they call it a Honcho – (Spin city here I come)
Though its not very cherry its still got me feeling macho –(Spin city here I come)
It don’t have much leg room, or a place to stow
But that boat still gets me where I wanna go…

Cause I’m going to spin city gonna pull some blunts
Yes I’m going to spin city gonna spin some stunts
Well I’m going to spin city though theres lack of funds
I’ll still go to spin city then go drink some suds

Two boats for every guy (gal)!

Now when I’m sitting in the eddy and I’m waiting in the line up (Spin city here I come)
And its hot and its hazy and the boaters’ getting’ fed up (Spin city here I come)
I’m not gonna blow my cool - I’m ready to go
And if it gets too damned sticky then just go for a roll!

Cause I’m going to spin city gonna have some fun
Yes I’m going to spin city gonna get some sun
Well I’m going to spin city - not the only one
I’ll still go to spin city ‘least if my car still runs

Two boats for every guy (gal)!

Now that boat seems to vibrate when I’m crossing the eddy line - (Spin city here I come)
Then my Honcho just starts spinning like its freestyle time -(Spin city here I come)
I don’t do a thing cause it just finds me the groove
Like a hotrodding engine that’s a revving to move

Cause I’m going to spin city just like every one
Yes I’m going to spin city though I’m out of funds
Well I’m going to spin city - cause its lots of fun
I’ll still go to spin city til my days are done

Two boats for every guy (gal)! Oh yeah!


Back to the top

Seven sisters

Seven sisters settling scores some seven days a week
Six-packed paddlers pushing limits finding what they seek

An intrepid plunge instead of fun to tumble in the maw
Would wish their yaks had made it back to safety on the sod

Washed and rinsed then blow dried too
exchanging end for end
flotsam washed from empty hulls ejected swimmers spent

Miss the sisters miss the thrill but paddle yet again
don't chase a boat that's missing floats like saner paddlers choose


Back to the top

My Hollywood

Sift through chaos in the run seek order in the waves
wrapped in safety on the ground where best laid plans are made

Yes boats will float and paddles stick
old rubber skirts will hold so clutching to the cedar boughs
one's spirit grows more bold

The lusty roar makes words fall dull
Encouraged - slip away
Yet one more cheer to stoke the fire
Off rocks into the fray

Thus forewarned the path was clear
ahead you saw the white
all in seconds possible on course now set you fight

As clear the route was once above
From womb to current strong
like obstacles that once were plain
like eddy now long gone

For pondering paddling in the troughs,
those downs are deep and grave
as committed now to meet that rush
once uttered words are prayed

Keep left, keep left, keep left, you say
through each successive train
Away from Davey Jones grasp
where likely you would stay

Til bracing on them one by one
Fulfilled a blissful day
The spirits rose on every crest
and slipped down every wave

Until at last my Hollywood
in rapture blue and white
The route 'twas not as planned it seems
Though once ended, felt so right


Back to the top

Les Amis D'Hydro

Pressure points - niggling little pressure points Like grains of sand, barbed seeds, or slivered wood painful shards of metal and glass laid under skin tiny, invisible to the eye but painful nonetheless, sharp and thin blister underfoot, sliver under nails, between toes, popcorn kernels caught in the craw or gourd they can't go by unnoticed stopping the trek, ending the summit climb diverting courses laid, breaking the machine banishing rest like disturbing dreams catch dozy inattention with insolence and impertinence Serving reminders between the eyes or shoulder blades with cricks, or pokes though hard one may try they cling resiliently until excoriation, and excision like David's stone released they fly

Just words, and random flow of thought, settling like dust on the credenza A thin layer everywhere, bugs the tranquility of a place or state of mind Like a gaggling collection of insignificance Just one man, with ideas, or objections settling in for a long seige with a bowl of rice and a plan obstinently clinging to life and the face of the earth like The Butterfly in a tree or a rash that won't go away Like life itself will find a way Until we give up or they


Back to the top

The Unthinkable on the Rouge River

Adapted from an Editorial by Fred Ryan that appeared in the West Quebec Post on April 27, 2001 called "The unthinkable along highway 148"

The highways we've traveled, the rivers we've paddled
Rewarding or dull as they move us and flow
Take us to places , unique hidden spaces
we've shared on these rivers where ever we go

Weekends of getaways, rain or sunshine
The run of the river's the river we've tried
When simply the paddling makes running them fine
no matter direction, no matter how high

But paddling one weekend, the river gave signs
with wind in the trees and the sun in the sky
By unsettled clouds much too deep for the spring
like unnerving news - discouraging

News of the changes, some well underway
Then tossed by the current or social malaise
Shortage of power, and sell offs and strife
Forces at work with no control in our lives
Resources exploited, bulk water exported
too much for one paddler, too much to decide

Drifting on down and burdened by thoughts
If no one could solve this, then maybe so what?
And thought the unthinkable; "so what if is"
That rivers are dammed up and trees cease to live

Like hearing the bell toll and knowing its true
The future was certain for the bell tolled for you
The river lamented the future I'd seen
was dim as the light clouded day that had been

This path that was paddled an unpleasant sort
The week was too long and the weekend too short
Met those, all in passing, who were working or not,
Who dreamed both of nightmares or visions they sought
Except for those feelings - like the ones I had thought.

Then flying like crazy passed over a flock,
dark geese flew near water gusting winds could not stop
And driven by wildness, their wildness intact
locked in their small hearts long forged in the past
Fiercly determined, to follow the wind
Caused a welling of tears in the man - though within

Whose spirit had fallen as the sun had just set
shamed by those flyers, head on hands had just wept
The highways he'd traveled, the rivers he'd paddled
Rewarding or dull as they move on and flow
Take us to places , unique hidden spaces
Days upon weekends, in directions we know


Back to the top

Adapted from an Editorial by Fred Ryan that appeared in the West Quebec Post on April 27, 2001

The white and the light

From the deep and the dark
A space where sound does not exist
Where the heart is felt but never heard
We are called to witness the coming of the light
The light of day, the light of God and the light of life
a gift and wish inspired
Reached out in infinite rays
from a beginning so impossible
to conclude beyond thought and belief
An event borne of inspiration
both magical and implausible
revealed in prophesy
then realized one moment in time
with the promise of a future
where life and death converge
The moment of light is a moment of white
of such fright yet with the hope of life
The moment of truth
wrested from emptiness
on wings of design
not once in that instant
but three at a time
near grey rocks and water
and sun kissed besides
Yet arms raised high in victory
knew brief reward
they emptied quickly
with the flight of life from fright
leaving flickering knowlege
of the white and the light



Back to the top

This Old Boat

This old boat, just like my shoes,
one hates to let them go
I've worn it now so long my friends
it seats the ass it knows
As if the rubber padding there
had burst forth from the womb
And found a final resting place
midst plastic foam and glue
But floating down to horseshoe
in the eddy yesterday
The playboats that encircled
seemed like river rats that way
Or tugboats circling round the queen,
in harbour paralyzed
by length and height and bouyancy
enscounced there by her size
Even I who loved her
so consigned it to the heap,
along the cedared backyard fence
and camoflaged by trees
The yellow sheen was mottled
by the scourge of UVlight
Rocks had scuffed the bottom
and the nose was scraped preflight
Long ago the jam cleat saved
both paddles, boats and lives
Grab loops lifted soggy souls
from rapids many times
Until one day, the need arose
to raise a C note - prayed
that others seeing value there
would succumb to a trade
That mighty craft that paddled down
the Gauley, Cheat and Rouge
Would find its final resting place
with children on the loose
Tarped in summer hideaways
emerging with the sun
with daisy stroked amusement
and some children's weekend fun



Back to the top

Paddle Haiku

The Rapid is long
but waves and holes encountered
may make it longer

Upstream and Downstream
Water flowing to and fro
Yet it still makes sense

Plunge over the falls true -
you may die yet live on
somewhat famously

Sealed in rubber suits
The water is cold, no doubt
but we are still warm

The deep hydraulic
holds us fast, for evermore
There is no escape

The kayak is small
The big waves crash terribly
Somehow its still fun

Square butts, and low cash
The river rolls on and on
with paddlers or not

A clean and green tongue
comfort amidst whitewater
its still no eddy

We hold the paddle
a powerful shield protects
from the raging beast

Blue and whitewater
Join in a dance of sunlight
praise be to rivers

Borne of ice and snow
Flowing free through the ages
Long live Kipawa



Back to the top

The birth of a River

The snow capped peaks
rising above the horizon
reflect the early morning sun
telling a story of birth if one cares to listen
They speak of the great cycle of life
and the source of life which is water.
Once it gave rise to life itself
in the murky depths
somewhere a complicated life giving cocktail
of protein elements,
chains of molecules formed.
Simple peptides at first,
mindless and driven by simple attraction
and an uncanny symmetry.
The frozen ice of those mountains
had existed for who knows how long.
Not as ice,
perhaps once as the elixir of life
borne of the desert
some where in a balmy oasis.
As the precious drops of rain
feed a farmer's field
or the lurid sweat borne
of an uncontrollable heat
under the fullest of moons.
The sun, and overseer was to start a new dance
one snow flake and ice crystal at a time.
Warmed and liquified those begin
on a path of least resistance.
Drawn down by the invisible forces
that power the very universe that is the mother of all.
The path of the many
through the history of time.
Sliding down sleepy brethren, still in deep freeze,
off icycle tips and off into the abyss,
or soaked into a stone for another 1000 years
Some would perish immediately, sublimated into the ether.
Vanishing with barely a lifespan.
Many more, however, would live to brighter days,
faster days, heady and powerful days
upon a tortuous journey to the sea,
to once again join with their brethren.



Back to the top

The presence of Mind

Its not easy being calm when the world turns upside down
And a whirlpool tries to swallow boat and all
Far from pleasant when you're blind, sucked asunder there besides
and you're certain that you're heading for the falls

One is sure to have their doubts as they're getting knocked about
and the paddle's getting ripped from either side
Times like these you must decide if every trick that you've just tried
only leads you where you bloody started from

If they give it one more try - to roll up in do or die
Could it be they'd end up swimming in that tide still
when running out of time - let alone their air supply
its so hard to find the presence of one's mind

somewhere flushed along the way, memories of another day
maybe something once they'd said or seen or did
Never thought much of it then - still when it comes to mind again
Tricks remembered come in handy, and one's bound to use them gladly
when they stop to use the presence of their mind



Back to the top

Angel's Kiss

A feast for the eyes on the fifth of July
when the Ottawa's big, fat and new
where the yakers and rafts cascade cataracts
one by one to the white from the blue

Hot days of summmer they're lining the rocks
Slurping on something that's green
Or out on the water, and ripping off spins submersed then dispatched but more clean

And down in the spray where they're shredding waves
Decked out in their colours so mean
The time just flies by like tossed paddles on high
when the hotdogs are trying to be seen

There's something transcending a day without ending
Spent close to the cool water's edge
Where spirits are rising while kayaks are diving
And squirting or blunting instead

So give me the Ottawa, on days just like these
To share with the world who have missed
They'll no doubt believe once they've finally have seen
What's been placed on the earth Angel Kissed.



Crash and Burn

Rescues by the numbers Who could argue with that

But the river served us up for far too long and now that well’s gone dry
Out of the nowhere rose excitement and change of scene
out of control at last when things aren't happening normally and things are not going well

Up and down - the river ran its smooth lines the day long
With no one to notice them , so we were not concerned

While he sniffed flowers like Ferdinand
Air borne paddles touched the sky at button hook,
he woke up next while upside down just far enough from land
The time had come - his time to swim
-the only way he learned this was just his time it seems - his time to crash and burn

First we need more time to think, but those thoughts would never come
you took the right most fork back then ,when last we took this run things seemed so casual -
I took the left for fun who ever notices when all is well –
another rockin’ good time But that's when the holes upset you -
and you have a serious swim
No rope to save us or net to catch you
It was just your time to crash and burn

First his thoughts were to paddle by
then maybe he could surf something side ways had pushed him off the line
Time past quickly in the white which was the state he was in
No one there to blame, - no promises broken.
It just wasn't his day He just had to crash and burn

That's when the waves upset him - and he had a serious swim
No throw ropes to save him no net to string and catch you
Time to face the music Time to crash and burn



Back to the top

Share the Wealth

Around the world, on flowing waters  
as mountain streams or lazy floaters
paddlers crave their common markers
from vantage points of wishful gawkers

Many heads have turned on bridges
snapped around for fleeting glimpses
as cockiness within them winces
with waterfalls and killer sieves

Lucky is the one that knows
the entrances where magic goes
round corners or in distance flows
their hidden waves or undertows
their rocks and eddies and their holes

Around the world with corners vast
with sweeping vistas'd - mountain glass
where what is known may never pass
the urge to go and paddle lasts
if they could know - but who to ask?

A resevoir of paddling lore,
can empty waters evermore
with bouyant craft or floating corps
and treasure them where content pours
a sacred trust they can't ignore


Back to the top

Friends in Rough Water

The day was tough, his lines were bad
and confidence was shaken
He had to wince and close his eyes
at all the risks he'd taken
so thoughts can come, impure to some
that he would never make it
And getting back into his boat?
was more likely just to say 'quit'
Eying up another stroll along the rocky shoreline
boat water logged with soggy shoes
bruised ego by the bad times
But at his side with steely eyes found friends were always helping
rafting down the Norman's run
On either side, they're laughing
And halfway through the biggest waves
He found himself relaxing
Theres nothing quite like friends like that
Rough water, friends, he basked in
Who reassured his water start
and did without his asking


Back to the top

River Eyes

Feel the wind, 'whyned', canyon bound and leave without a trace
like mystic fingers tantalize so awestruck in this place

Saturated senses seep from tree lined verdant lands
as swirling rapid waters touch the paddles in our hands

From hours along the water's edge when skies can look so blue
where cloudiness accentuates the colours and their hue

Even as the gapping maw can frighten yet excite
the surge that comes from being there can change the blue to white

My voice calls out, and falls away the spray has muted cries
but not the pounding of your heart whose joy is not disguised

I call your name and realize your hearts not with the sky
or purple haze and mistiness the river's in your eyes


Back to the top

Big Joe

Theres a little surfing spot down by the bird sanctuary
The waves are big and they're fat and its a little bit hairy
You've got to line up your boat with some trees - then say go ...
and hope the line you just took doesn't treat you unfairly

Well there's boils in the eddies, and current is pushin'
You've got to hustle to the middle or its surf you'be missin'
Cause the mighty St. Lawrence won't be giving much thought
To your little kayak or any fresh air that you've got.

Surf across that wave and spin away all summer day its the latest craze

Yeah the riots are there cause they're all Montrealese
They make those stinkin play boaters seem so hot so balsey
There's another one surfing the wave on the left while
They go out two at a time to the pit and the pile ...

When you're all done surfin you can blow off the wave train
hit the river sized eddy and start all over again
Theres a platform on the river and they're getting some sun
cause after playing all day they're plain tuckered from fun

Surf across that wave and spin and play all summer day its the latest craze

Gone surfin' at Big Joe- Just Spinnin' in Joe's hole
No cares for tomorrow -Gone surfin' at Big Joe


Back to the top