To the World’s Worst River

I’m on the shore of the world’s worst river.
It’s brown as sheep turd,
slows when it should speed up,
rages where it ought to slacken.
No fish in it. Just bald tires.
A friend swallowed a mouthful of it once.
Said it tastes like acid.
Three kids drowned here.
One woman even slid on the overhead bridge,
crashed through the railing,
sank down into that surly, swirling water.
Used to be factories upstream
but they’re long shuttered.
Can’t blame them for how it is now.
It’s just that color out of sheer spite, I reckon.

The river speaks in a low gurgle of a voice
as it saunters by the old hanging tree,
Want to see what’s on the bottom
then bring out your dredgers
or the bravest of your divers.
Take a boat to me sonny boy
and I’ll stall you over my deepest place
or I’ll crush you on my rocks.
Have to wonder why I’m here and
not at the lake with the other kids.
But sometimes a guy just gets the urge
to be standing on the shore of the world’s worst river.
I can scrutinize my life for the good in it.
I can convince myself I’m better than this.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Dissident Voice, New World Writing, Santa Fe Literary Review, and Lost Pilots. Latest books, ”Between Two Fires”, “Covert” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the Seventh Quarry, La Presa and California Quarterly.. Read other articles by John.