“Words are moving water, muddy, clear, or both” – Jim Harrison


When I spent a summer guiding

young teens into the wilderness

I was given the option of hiking

or paddling a group of novices

down a river, through a chain

of lakes for ten days in canoes.

Hikers, I knew, came back

to camp stuccoed waist high

in mud and spent the next day

searching for leeches, dealing

with mosquito bites.


Say clear what you mean

for leeches and mud are lies

I seek water clear



This is part of “28 Days of Unreason”

based on prompts taken from poems

by Jim Harrison.


2 thoughts on “Lies

  1. Charley, I have read the closing stanza several times to allow the meaning to really get a hold of me. Your poem does what good writing should do – it makes me stop and think and ponder and question. You have this wonderful, casual narrative about leading kids on a summer expedition and then you hit your reader with a truth through the metaphor. That search for speaking and writing with clarity is likened to the clear water that you see while paddling the lakes. Muddied words, like hiking through the slog leaves us with lies. The choice of leeches in the poem is quite effective! I’ll stop now, lest my words become muddied 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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