November Song

The river still sang its endless loop
of November song as it rolled past
the old steel bridge, even though
January had almost run its course.
On the hillside above, the latest
excuse-me snow had whitewashed
the abandoned shopping carts,
empty bottles of someone’s
hope turned to hopelessness —
perhaps the other way around —
and a notebook, its pages fat
with ice, its back broken,
its heart now devoid of words.

Where once ran the lyrics to
the music below, the sun had
bleached each line, exsanguinated
warm memory of their watching
the river flow, dreams to follow it
someday out of the valley,
to where the wind carried
the perfume of nature and not
the cough of the mines.

The coal train strikes up a new
strain, overpowering the waterway
that drew its path before factory
and farm knew this frozen soil.
In the roar and wind as it passes,
ringing its way out of this valley,
the pages flutter and reveal
seconds of secrets a girl never
told a boy, only to disappear
back to the winter white and
the sound the river makes as
it chases tomorrow and runs
from yesterday in its wordless
November song.

The photo above inspired this piece and is by my friend and fellow river wanderer, the brilliant photographer and writer Diana Matisz (

4 thoughts on “November Song

  1. Ah Joe, this is just wonderful. Growing up in a small mill town on the Connecticut River, where the B & M tracks run along the banks, and later where Amtrak’s Washinton/Montrealer would run, I can so picture this scene. I feel the chill of the wind as it whips across the choppy water and up the embankment, see the cart tipped on the side, the trashed bottles someone’s “hope” and “dreams.” Love the photo too. This one took me home. Thank you, my friend!

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