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Selected poems from Canoeing a River with No Name

By Ronnie Hess

Ronnie Hess

Ronnie Hess

Ronnie Hess is a poet and non-fiction writer, the author of four poetry chapbooks (Whole Cloth; Ribbon of Sand; A Woman in Vegetable; O Is for Owl) and two culinary travel guides (Eat Smart in France and Eat Smart in Portugal, both from Ginkgo Press). She grew up in New York City, attended the Lycée Français de New York and Julia Richman High School, and graduated from Hunter College, the City University of New York. She earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a Knight Fellow (then Professional Journalism Fellow) at Stanford University and has received other journalism awards. She lives in Madison, WI. See the author's website at

Postcard Never Sent

How quickly stillness comes.
Breathing is even, loose.

The night holds no terrors,
days, only regular sounds:

the paddle dip in water,
a bird’s wings overhead.

So far, no rain and
the bugs are bearable.

Last night, a full moon,
a dream of dancing fish. 


How to stop from crying

the wonder is without you
there is sound. Not your voice 

but the wrens, 
children in the playground,

their raucousness across the treetops,
and sirens, the muffled whirr of cars.

I took in the trash cans,
swept away catkins and spider webs,

filled time with air, sun, a coffee cup.
Who is counting? 

Only four hours
since you went away.



I spend my days trying to make decisions,
left bank or right. 

Yet, dear, you always seem to know
the way to read a river while I am dreaming,

think nothing of getting out to pull me
when the canoe runs aground.

I say such a dry summer, 
such low water levels.

You say so many sandbars
to bed us down.