‘The River Wye’ and Other Poetry by Mike Ruskovich The Society March 22, 2015 Beauty, Culture, Poetry, Popular Poetry Archives 21 Comments The River Wye Your stroll beside the stream has stayed with me, Has left me in my loneliness with strength Enough to face the world, to somehow see Within its depth and width and wandering length The Truth that Keats and Coleridge saw with eyes Romantic yet as real as river stones That roll the water, washing clean the lies That cling like greed to human flesh and bones. Your words, worth all the days and nights I spend In contemplation seeking my own worth, Are currents catching me each time I bend My back to labor, sifting through the Earth You sorted for me walking by the Wye, In lines admiring how instead of why. The Greatest Wall of China When commerce comes before the human soul, And speech is caged and liberty’s confined, While privacy’s imprisoned by a goal That values money more than any mind Where freedom is the currency of choice, Then more is ruined than the land and air— Pollution stains the hopeful heart and voice That speaks against oppression everywhere; It stains the fabric stitched by brotherhood And builds the kind of thick restrictive wall That harbors hate, restraining all the good We’d have to share if only walls could fall. When politics make bricks of helping hands, The worst and highest wall of all still stands. Nuclear Thinking Explain this lie if you can To Ukraine and to Japan How “safe” and “cheap” are terms that fit Between the gap when atoms split, The long-term wasteland left behind By the plans of a short-term mind, The daft irradiated leap That’s in fact neither safe nor cheap. Interpretation One night I and a thinking friend Walked out to the beach’s end. The moonlit shore on which we walked Inspired us as we talked, Expressing our philosophies About mountains, moons, and seas. We were not so different in our views, But it’s human nature to refuse To accept an object that we see As being what another claims it to be. So the mountain remained a mountain still, Though he insisted it was a hill. And still the waves were constant in motion As I argued sea and he argued ocean. So we walked back resolved to naught, Still thinking but with no change of thought. He never listened but his verse flowed fine, And while he spoke his, I heard mine. Mike Ruskovich lives in Grangeville, Idaho. He taught high school English for thirty-six years. He and his wife have four children. Featured Image: “The River Wye at Tintern Abbey,” 1805, by Philip James de Loutherbourg. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) 21 Responses Jerilyn Nash March 22, 2015 “Interpretation” really hit home with me! Eloquently put! Thank you for posting the poems you did – but especially that one! 🙂 Reply Mike Ruskovich March 27, 2015 Thank you. I enjoyed writing the poem and I am glad you enjoyed reading it. –Mike Reply Daniel March 22, 2015 Great work on “The River Wye” — this one really resonated with me. Nice use of rhyme and diction. Reply Mike Ruskovich March 27, 2015 Thank you! Reply Elizabeth Greywolf March 22, 2015 Beautifully done — lovely, thoughtfully executed. I hope your students appreciated you! Reply Mike Ruskovich March 27, 2015 Thanks. I hope they appreciated me too. Kind of you to say. Reply William Ruskovich March 24, 2015 Out on the Rathdrum Prairie. from Bill-Pat. Reply Mike Ruskovich March 27, 2015 You are my brother–and still a wise guy. Note: there is a big difference between a wise man and a wise guy.–Mike Reply Lily Mitchell March 26, 2015 Some of the most beautiful poetry I have read in a long time. I love those words as “river stones” rolling on the water. A perfect tribute to the great poets. You must have been a fantastic teacher. Reply Mike Ruskovich March 27, 2015 Thank you so much. Teaching “Tintern Abbey” was one of the great joys of my career, as was teaching students how to write English sonnets. So this sonnet came quite naturally to me. I appreciate your response. –Mike Reply Sam McPhee March 27, 2015 I can’t get enough of The River Wye. I’ve read it maybe ten times now. Thinking of another person’s stroll as a possession of yours is at once intriguing and deeply moving. Different than taking another’s story and making it yours simply by loving it. I like that the object of love and fascination here is simply a stroll. I think I do this too–I hold onto the actions of others (esp. those of my parents) as if they were possessions; or it’s as if by holding onto certain actions, by simply thinking of them, I somehow turn them into possessions. But I didn’t know this was a thing I did until I read your poem. Reply Mike Ruskovich March 27, 2015 Thank you. As you may recall, Wordsworth not only directed his poem to the river but also to his sister. He, like you, had made a stroll his own, had held on to a journey made five years earlier and wanted to share the experience with Dorothy. He could see in her eyes and face that she was embracing the tour, even as he was making her experience his own in the poem. I am glad you felt that way about mine. –Mike Reply Mardell Williams March 28, 2015 You have such a wonderful gift of being able to communicate so effectively with beautiful poetry! I’m glad you entered this contest so more people could appreciate your work. Reply Mike Ruskovich March 29, 2015 Thanks so much, Mardell! Reply Cat Seaton March 28, 2015 The last two lines of the final poem were the most impactful for me, I think. Great to read your poetry. 🙂 P.S. If you are the Mike Ruskovich who was my former IB senior English teacher, I have been trying to get in contact with you. The phone number my dad has is wrong. If not–your poetry is still lovely, and I’m glad I was able to read it while reminiscing about an old, favorite teacher. Thank you. Reply Mike Ruskovich March 29, 2015 Cat–I am indeed that teacher. So good to hear from you, and thanks for reading and liking my poems. I do not wish to put my email address or phone number here, but I know where to contact your mother and will give it to her. Thanks again. Reply Emily Ruskovich March 29, 2015 I have learned so much about writing from you, and am deeply grateful that I was lucky enough to spend my childhood reading the poems you wrote, poems like these which “sorted the Earth” for me, and made it a place I could write about too. Thank you so much. I’m excited to see more. Reply Diane Sheridan November 25, 2016 Was thinking about my “old” English teacher today and decided to search your name. Came upon this site. “Interpretation” speaks to me!! So glad to “see” you again, Mr. Ruskovich!! Reply John Michael Ruskovich November 26, 2016 Thanks Diane. I am living on the wide open Camas Prairie now, as far from the four walls of a classroom as I can get. I stay busy writing, but not as busy as my daughter Emily, whose novel “Idaho” is due to come out on January 3rd from Random House. As you can tell, I am a proud dad. Hope all is well in your life. So good to know one of my “old” students was thinking of me. Take care. Reply Kristofer Young, DC May 30, 2017 Mike, You are no less beautiful nor thoughtful than when you were 16! Kris Reply Mike Ruskovich March 8, 2018 Thank You, Kris. I will try to figure out a way to contact you, but I am not very adept at the Internet, and I am not wanting to put my private information in this space. I have a book your mother Kay loaned me almost fifty years ago, and I suppose it’s time to return it. If you get this, let me know; perhaps you are better at reaching me than I am at reaching you. If not, hello from the past that doesn’t know how to reach the present.–Mike Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.