“The Genesee”

“The Genesee”

I took a walk along the Genesee River at lunch today and came upon the Swinburne Rock. It is named for Thomas Thackeray Swinburne who attended the University of Rochester and was a member of the class of 1892. Although Swinburne took classes up until his senior year he did not complete his degree. Yet he was voted Class Poet by his cohort and made many literary contributions, including poems, articles, and editorial work in the student newspaper. Later, Swinburne was named City Poet during the city’s 1912 centennial celebration. At one gala that year he read a 30-stanza poem that featured a chat between the Genesee and the statue of Mercury that was atop a downtown building.

Swinburne, Thomas Thackeray
Rochester poet T.T. Swinburne (1862 – 1926)

Swinburne owned a printing company and published many books including some that featured his own poems. One book was called Rochester Rhymes. Published in 1907 the book was dedicated to his sister Rose. Sadly, Rose passed away in 1926 and Swinburne, distraught by this loss, took his own life by jumping into the river’s icy waters in December of that year.

The Swinburne rock is a memorial to this poet. It features a large plaque with his poem The Genesee.  The poem serves as the alma mater of the University of Rochester. It was later set to music by Herve Dwight Wilkins. The memorial plaque is affixed to a large glacial boulder. The plaque is made of bronze, now tinged green, with the words of The Genesee boldly inscribed. Overlooking the river next to the University’s Interfaith Chapel, the memorial has a timeless feeling. It is nice to take a moment, breathe the air, and read the words.genesee 2


“Inching Down”

“Inching Down”

An exclamation mark weaves a curve through Darkness.
It challenges a silent chasm best measured by clocks rather than kilometers.
But that Void offers no roar or blast
Beyond the cold harbingers of Time and Fate and Chance.

When the long silence ends
It is to the vibration of thrusters.
Then point-precise thunder
Channels the chaos of explosive bolts.
Thin air keens its frictional wail beyond the burning aeroshell.

Gravity one-third Earth’s grabs a thin frame
While metal heart knows when the Plummet begins.
A red landscape stretches before unblinking electronic eyes
To glimpse the temptations Ray warned us about.

Those visions are old as Dust
And still so very new
Yet no canals or alabaster cities today
But just as many mysteries.
The Voice that greets us is the whispered harmonic fugue
Between drogue and wind.

And all the while the clocks are running
To mark the moment where we hover, Aflame!
And like a mad mechanical butterfly
On plasma wings Inching Down
Below a ludicrous pink sky where
Only dreamers are allowed to dare.

Wheels touch Mars
But motors do not yet turn.
New to this World we must look
With a plan for each move and meter.
The cameras show sights Unknown
And we plot our trek.
Rock and wind and secrets
All soon Revealed.
To our Curiosity.


curiosity landing site
The Mars Curiosity Rover landed at Gale Crater on 6 August 2012 05:17:57 UTC at 4° 35′ 22.2″ S, 137° 26′ 30.12″ E. The above image was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It shows the rover landing site as well as various hardware the rover used during its descent.

Icebergs on Asphalt

Icebergs on Asphalt

May 17th…a few days ago I went to the supermarket. I usually go to the local Mom & Pop grocers. A few remain where I live. Scrappy little shops with well-stocked shelves, tight aisles, and friendly owners. This gives me hope although I might liken these tiny shops to the primeval mammals that scurried around the feet of dinosaurs. Nothing new perhaps, but maybe the harbingers of a coming resurgence.

This supermarket is in a large mega-plaza and as always I park as far from the doors as possible. I like the exercise and even a short walk is better than none. Needless to say my auto was fairly isolated. I had walked about thirty feet when I suddenly felt as if I was crossing a gravel beach. There was a lot of sand, grit, pebbles, and debris all around. This rather noticeable patch of aggregate stone also included some litter: crushed cigarette packs, broken glass, flattened plastic bottles, a faded Happy Meal toy, and weather-worn scraps of thick curved papyrus that had once proudly held beverages at Starbucks.

Then I started to laugh! I suddenly realized that the pan I was crossing was where the snowplows had likely piled snow and ice just a few short months ago. It reminded me of a poem I had written:

“Icebergs on Asphalt”

When January arrives

The icebergs appear

Across our winter-hardened landscape

Tall and unyielding

Vast piles of snow

Scraped up by yellow dinosaurs

Unseeing in the midnight glare

Sitting white upon black asphalt seas

We cautiously navigate our way to a parking space

Ever mindful of the Titanic

And wonder what those icebergs will reveal

Come the springtime melt


…well, now I guess I know!

please note that the photo above was taken by photographer Lynn Davis and is called Iceberg #23, Disko Bay, Greenland, 2000. 

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Thoughts of the Summer Ahead…

Thoughts of the Summer Ahead…

May 13th. It was a warm day today. Spring is here. They’ve been putting down plenty of mulch before Commencement Sunday. The mulch smells warm and earthy and rests there in the back of your nose as if the scent wants you to follow it home to some primeval woodland. It makes me start to think of the Adirondacks and summer.

Silver Lake, 1986 – 2009

When we unlock the new old cabin’s door

Spring is a sudden hammer-fall

And the chopping of wood

Sends birds aloft

Startled from reverie

We are newlyweds again

And living large in a future just barely glimpsed.


Summer arrives to

Settle with a veil of unstoppable light

The season lands quietly in the birch forest at dawn

And comes forward like a lover’s embrace

The repeating days are always new

Through sepia windows we peer outward

Almost familiar faces captured startled in old photographs.


Timepieces on wing write their new history across the crisp sky

The birds tell us the world is changing

The woods offer a brief final shout of color and life

A party at the end of days when remembered light gave warmth

But we wallflowers sit in the corner holding hands

Outside on the wind the parchment tells of words and deeds and time.


The clouds are so heavy it is hard to tell the transition

Between storm and sky

Roads leading away are closed but less so by snow than perhaps by silence

It is a day shared by thoughts

And memories

A wrestling against Time

And only we shall know the outcome.