About Me

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Minnesota, United States
As I walk along in life, my muses dance with reflection inspiring me to release the thoughts and emotions of my pondering mind through poetry.

Prompt Poetry & Promotion page for The River

*plus the archive of my older poetry

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Power of Song

Sing, let your voice
fly free and strong
joining together in
the power of song

Drum, heartbeats rise
echoing old ways
mothers listen
the spirits praise

Women and song
that is our way
drumming together
grandmothers say

They teach us the ways
to sing with our voice
drum with our hearts
love and rejoice

Women rise be strong
for girls listen
to the power of song.

©River Maria Urke 11/10

dedicated to Oshkii Giizhik and all women hand drummers Miigwech~ thank you

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Moments of Sunrise

A vessel of flowing warmth
swirls of vibrant hues
uncovering dark corners
with moments of quivers.
Delicate petals waltz
around the guarded grotto
as solid walls, tighten
breathlessly with every twirl.
The waltz quickens
as waters churn,
the mouth of the cave
wets from within.
                ©River 12/10

 posted for One Shot Wednesday week 26 at One Stop Poetry
check out other poets 

picture thanks to Google images

Monday, December 27, 2010

Paralysis Times Three

The first time, I woke all numb
 equally from my knees down
traveling up and stopping
 at the bottom of my ribs.

I found my own therapy
and in no time at all
I left the hospital walking
 all weak and tingly-legged.

We road tripped west and on the way
I built up my strength with Hackie Sacs,
 soaked my legs in Hot Springs,
then tingly I ran the Oregon coast.
The second time, my feet hurt real bad,
my left big toe was numb.
Later that day, it moved
equally from my knees down.

It rose up my body and stopped
at the bottom of my ribs but
this time it jumped to my hands.
 I was three months pregnant.
They said it was caused by my head.

I perfected my own therapy
walking once more.
I left the Hospital knowing
it would be awhile until the tingly left again.
The third and final time at last I knew why
I was numb and tingly, unable to stand.
I faced the battle more angry than afraid,
a relapse from MS different then the rest.

I felt tremendous pain
 to mind boggling extreme.
At times it could have flipped me out
however, I was stronger no doubt
with morphine on my side.

I pulled out my therapy like a pro ready to walk
even so, this time I changed, damage had been done.
I had a limp to the right and no feeling in the left.
That’s when I made up mind this was the final one.
An unexplainable pattern of age
has followed me for nearly twenty years.
Afflicting me every five,
leaving me temporarily paralyzed.

Until this last round of five
the pattern took a dive
and I flew right by
the pattern of five.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Snow Crystals~ Sedoka

     Snow Crystals

tiny cold crystals
mystery of innocence
a fragile dance by thousands

ivory key notes
reveal treasures of beauty
they dance into formations
                              River 12/10

Sedoka is two katauta poems put together. Each katauta is a 5 7 7 syllable count and can stand on its own. They can be any length and are considered mood poems-for feelings and songs.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


The Stone Nordic Theater
by moonlight is barren,
except for the latest Graffiti
and once in a while a
drifter borrows a night,
soothed by crashing waves
and the hum of the city.

By daylight, the stone
reveals its cold, empty stage,
a webbing of jagged cracks
crumbling from neglect.
The stonewalls hold memories
wrapped  in aged grape vines
flowing from crevice to crevice
near a woman dangling her legs
over the edge.

An edge of the mossy wall
overlooking the mighty waters
behind the Nordic theater.
She contemplates choice
with tear streaked cheeks
watching the brewing storm,
the swell of rolling waters
crashing against rocks
wails against stonewalls
echoes through the theater.


posted for One Shot Wednesday week 25 at One Stop Poetry ~ check out more poetry

rewrite~ between two realms~ video

This is a rewrite of between two realms presented in video. The original poem is in the archive.

posted for One Shot Wednesday for One Stop Poetry

Friday, December 17, 2010

between two realms

with every bend in the country road
the voice of a distant grace grows louder
guiding the woman forward as she nears
a field the voice becomes a whisper,
she stops in a cloud of dust and parks,
rising in the haze of an autumns dusk,
she ventures out into the field.

framed in pinks and hues of brown
a herd of deer graze on fallen corn
a gentle crisp wind sails
through grasses and layers pale
meandering footprints worn
a destiny laid out since she was born. 

darkening rays crawl across the sky
playing shadows with her eyes
she glides closer as they begin  
slowly moving, their pace quickening
she swiftly falls in behind, closing
her eyes, letting intuition guide
traveling towards the ravine.

winding down the hardened walls
passing through the door of realms
under the archway in between
they enter a timeless place of magic
where free verse rings true all classic.

gracing the powers of the unknown
she stands back watching, listening
a flutes sweet melody soars
waltzing notes of violins spinning
streams of conversations willing.

joining in thought and verse
one human among dozens of deer
contemplating life and walls of fear
around a table spread of a does delight.

dangling lanterns dim as beats quicken
to the pondering movements of the drum
pulsations of rhythmic echo’s
mingling trails of new beginnings
carry songs and dance with lots of cheer
an evening of festivities with the deer.

12/10 River Maria Urke

a rewrite can be found on video

Monday, December 13, 2010

Two Heartbeats

Two heartbeats steal innocent touches upon
cheek and thigh
undressing one another with their eyes.
He whispers sweet words between breaths
of everyday terms as she watches them form
on his lips, dreaming of their sweet kiss.

Two heartbeats borrow moments of time
snatching reasons of sharing presence,
knowing rings of wall stand in between
holding back thoughts clawing to be free.

Two heartbeats skip beats of forgetful rights
longing, he touches her flowing hair,
they pass quick glances of passionate desiring
sneaking kisses in shadows of yesterdays hiding.

Two heartbeats stand in the entrance of reality
stepping from the realms of fantasy,
they face their pasts of fear and choice
breathing free thoughts of wandering hands.

Two heartbeats trace the movements of the other
outlines of moist lips upon sweet nakedness
intertwined beauty of whispering wonders
two heartbeats are lost in the mists of the other.

posted for One Shot Wednesday at One Stop Poetry week 24
lots of poems to be read by awesome poets~ check it out 

Gaagaaiwa Enwed ~A Raven Calls

Ninoondawidiz gaagaaiwag inwe
I hear the Raven call

asaawe gichi miskwawakikaandag aka owabandanan
perched high in the great red pine, she waits

bizindaw. Nandotaw na’idaa azhigwa
listening. Listening for the right moment

googi niisayi’ii miniwa biidon nibwaakaa ikidowinan.
to swoop down and deliver a message.

Nibwaakaa ikidowinan ninoondawidizamin inwe,
A message for the ones that hear her call,

nindonjibaamin gichi miskwawakikaandag.
the ones that come to the great red pine.

Gaagaaiwag enwed
A Raven calls.

Ginoondaw ina?
Do you hear her?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I begin this post with a reading of the prose Grateful. I feel it is a piece that has to be heard not just read.

People ask me if it sucks to have MS. If life is really hard, especially; being a single mom too. What can you say to that? “No! It’s a snap!” or “I barely make it! I have no idea what to do any more.”

Neither of those answers works for me. I don’t want to be too revealing or a drama queen. I want to strive for balance and be more honest with fewer words. Is that possible?

I used to think MS was a burden upon my life. Always taking something away from me and leaving nothing in return. I felt my legs get weaker and my fingers loose feeling. I felt my pride lessen and my confidence dwindle.

Then one day, I realized I had it all wrong. My daughter and I were complaining about how much it sucked that MS interfered with our lives. I needed a relaxing quiet home day and my daughter wanted to spend the day at the beach. We were both disappointed in our own ways in our own corners. Then it dawned on me, it all mattered how you were looking at it. At another angle it could look quit different.
I began to reflect to the day my legs stopped running and I received the gift of a slow pace in all its entirety. I glanced down at my hands and thought of how they used to create works of beads and wood but clumsiness took root in them and now words bounce forth. I pivoted to be face to face with my daughter and remembered how lucky I am to walk with her throughout her day.

It took awhile for my eyes to open and for me to recognize the life teaching lessons that I am acquiring living with MS. It is so much easier to notice what is disappearing from ones life and a great deal harder to see what one is gaining from living with a disability.

I am grateful for receiving such treasures!


click on the link there is a lot of good poetry
by many great poets

Saturday, December 4, 2010

a chalice of faith~ duel poetry

This is the fourth poem Charlie/slpmartin and I have wrote together.  :)
Duel Poetry a prearranged poetry writing challenge  between two people to evolve a new poem where each writer must respond to the other writer’s lines  (4 -5 ) until both parties agree that the poem is complete.

 Charlie has an audio reading and 
below i have a video reading. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Soul Companion


                               The evening arrives
                               in a downcast moment,
                               jabbing spears at
                               anguished hours of longing,
                               cynical wounds
                               bash the soul
                               of a romantic.

                               Struggling to breath
                               consumed by the emptiness.

                               Alone so very long …
                               desiring a gentle caress,
                               an essential need
                               a touch that awakens
                               the body’s impulse
                               to the hands of another.

                               Not just any other...
                               a soul companion
                               a match of the mind
                               a connection that
                               knocks me silly
                               that drives me crazy
                               that I cannot walk
                               away from easily.

                               Cynical thoughts
                               creep in trying to
                               pollute and weaken
                               a romantic’s heart.
                               It wins some days
                               most other days
                               the optimist lives on.

posted for One Shot Wednesday 22 at One Stop Poetry

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Never had a Chance~prose/poetry

 The tale of a barefoot girl with stringy hair and filthy torn cloths. The only child of an almost grown young woman. 

A mother stands in a faded red bathrobe in the doorway of a rundown trailer looking ten years older then her measly sixteen.

 A man in a suit scurries to a black shiny car avoiding eye contact as he passes a girl sitting in a mud puddle. He never looks back.
The tale of a girl with loosely permed curls sitting properly in ironed clothes upon an ironed chair. Eyes of decaying steel.

A mother stands with plastic form and purpled face in a living room of false order. Invisible trembling hands confirm the loaded gun of fear.

A man ringed of jelly, stricken white abandons a black shiny car on the edge. Molded by others, lost of self, he dives beneath waters, never appearing again.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Theatrical Limbs

One night I learned the secret!
Why my body uncontrollably
stretches and twists,
outward one minute
springing back the next
like a tight rubber band.
My foot doesn’t lift.
My knee forgets to bend.
My muscles cringe
as my hand curls
to form a claw.

It was a night I was alert
open to the unknown
while my body hurt.

I felt the presence of what I could not see,
then..the shadows revealed strings
that led to me.

I watched the shadows for their source.
They all traced
to one that ran their course.

The shadow was a massive blur.
That resembled..
my words were one big slur.

I nearly fainted from the sight.
Am I dreaming?
Is this right?

A Giant held the strings connected to me
as if I was a puppet
for his glee.

At that moment he became aware
of me peering
opening his mouth with a scare.

I cowered as he spoke
that he ate folk!

His voice shook the room
by surprise
like a flower in bloom.

“You are my marionette for the theater,”
the Giant exclaimed.
“I picked you amongst the rest
because you were the best.”

The doctors call it Spasticity!

River © 2010
inspired by Shel Silverstein.

when the night winds blow... ~ duel poetry

This is the first poem Charles and I wrote together.  :)
Duel Poetry a prearranged poetry writing challenge  between two people to evolve a new poem where each writer must respond to the other writer’s lines  (4 -5 ) until both parties agree that the poem is complete.
posted September 9th on my old site

Friday, November 26, 2010

when spirits touch… - duel poetry

the call of a lone wolf
through the deepest corners
of the northern forest
a sound so primeval

from a forgotten soul
a wanderer of time
a time before men
walked the mossy path
alone, separated
and divided from all
now their relative calls
out their names

pleading for them
to return to the old ways
when men knew their brothers
and walked with their sisters
a time they lived side by side
no blades between or
tar soaked earth
only the warmth of love

for one another
a deep respect
for all who shared this place
and walked upon this path
a thousand miles far
the call of a lone wolf
resonates, passing through
earth, water, fire, and air
a girl lifts her ears
and speaks to the wind

brother I hear you
your voice is my voice
your sadness is mine
the lone wolf replies
young one, I carry
too heavy a burden
for your soft back
the girl smiles
and says to the old one
then let us do as before
and share the burden's
of this world

by Charles Martin & River Urke

Charlie and I did it again! A duel poetry challenge. We were finished in less then a day.  :)
Duel Poetry a prearranged poetry writing challenge  between two people to evolve a new poem where each writer must respond to the other writer’s lines  (4 -5 ) until both parties agree that the poem is complete.
posted September 14th on old site

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Their Eyes (Rictameter)

Their eyes
lock in longing
across the sun lit room.
He stands dazed, moving to her side,
an entrancing bright flash of two bare souls.
They speak of their love of old books
and deep woods, passions rise
captured within
their eyes.

Rictameter - the meter pattern (syllables per line) is 2-4-6-8-10-8-6-4-2.. First and last lines are identical.
posted for One Shot Wednesday 21 at One Stop Poetry 


Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Zoo in the Middle of a Jungle

6 am: I sit with my morning coffee looking around our living room,
breathing in the familiar, catching glimpses of memories among the
decor, absorbing the beauty of the Hibiscus opening its flower petals.
My mind begins drifting in my morning haze
 pondering people’s worlds, their realities
 our responses to their realities
the eyes of a stranger
peering into our
homes our

A full size piano in an apartment.
for my daughter’s musical skills

Books galore filling bookshelves
that almost touch the ceiling.
for my life addiction of reading
and smelling paper in my hands

A jungle of plants settled
in front of sliding glass doors.
for my love of life and flowers

A cat strolls into the room meowing insistently
we think he has an eating disorder
A girl is next stumbling in half-asleep
with messy hair, and dreamy eyes.
she still comes and sits on my lap in the morning
even though she’s as big as me- I love it
Right behind her, a dog follows with a look of, “I have to pee.”
he has never left her side
when she sleeps since we rescued him.
  I fondly smile at my growing daughter and our fury companions.
   Hearing the stranger’s eye perceive my full precious life and decide 

a crammed apartment
to many books
to many animals
to many plants
a zoo in the middle of a jungle

A contagious giggle escapes me infecting my daughter,
we both burst in laughter

I shake my head no.. It isn’t that crammed.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
One Happy Loving Family
Our zoo in the
middle of a

Friday, November 19, 2010

A White Tail Feather~ revised

The still of the lake calms my soul                    
as I wait beneath the willow.
A light breeze moves through her branches
lightly touching my face,
sweeping the hair from my eyes.
An Eagle calls in the distance.

My mind races with pictures and words,
adventures and quests of self and we.
Along the horizon lined with dark blue waters
bursts colors of red and orange.
I offer my asemaa.
An Eagle glides above calling my name.

Morning rises as I answer my old friend.
A gentle ripple forms on the lake
as the wind delivers our greetings to the other.
I hear his calls carried to my open arms,
his words pass through me.
I hear the call of an Eagle leaving with the wind.

He lands on the broken arm of an ash
on the sands of the shore near the willow.
Praising me for walking the path
many have guided me towards for years.
A choice of life destined to be.

My first tracks are laid down.

He lifts his wings and stretches
to a magnificent size of honor and respect,
wisdom and truth with humility.
He tells me to listen and be open
to what crosses my path
for this is just the beginning.

Rising with every flap of his powerful wings,
he lifts into the blue sky calling his goodbye.
I answer with gratitude and love
as I notice something lying on a rock.
He has left for me a piece of him,
a white tail feather.

  ©River Maria Urke 8/10

thanks to Google images

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Death to the Plain

An ancient time, a time of Pharaohs
leisurely wishing for aesthetically pleasing,
eye capturing, breath taking marvels of beauty.

No, peasant bore brown branding by glance
only glory  of color for birthrights by chance...

Death to the plain!   (said the Pharaohs

Rulers ride the line of place and time   
designing cultures of waxen mold
defining beauty as their own
courted talent for privileged eyes
captured musings of a phantoms guise.

Centuries pass, royalties fall      
freedoms of expression for all!

Beauty lies through the artist’s eyes 
sketching their nameless muse
feverishly absorbed in creation
lost within a bliss of elation
truly mastering their formation.

The willing observer deafened by years  
innately knows his growing tears...

Flow centuries long for all people
denied the beauty known now
taste the waters of the lands
walk through expressional sands
feel the magic of an artist’s hands.    

Beckoned by our silent cries
driven by their passions
clutching works of pure devotion
varying forms of aesthetically pleasing
pieces of deep meaning...

Writings of poetry, sculptures of design
paintings of landscape, photos of line
whispered melodies of modern day jazz…

Aesthetical dimensions
freedoms of expression

  Death to the plain!

                                         ©River Maria Urke 11/10

posted for week 20 - One Shoot Wednesday at One Stop Poetry
click on the name and be swept away to a doorway with many links to some great poetry.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Eccentric Mother

I remember as a girl going to Cybil’s house
So you could learn the old Astrology
After you brushed the old woman’s hair
I remember thinking her and her husband were ancient
Now I know they were wise

I remember you running with me and laughing
When everyone else’s mothers were sitting
Gabbing about each other
I remember thinking I was lucky

I remember you heading my Girl Scouts Troupe
Fighting for equality to enter the old school
Trying to give the gift of nature to the girls
I remember how proud I felt that you were my mother

I remember you cheering the loudest
At my basketball games
I remember you standing up for me
Telling that sexist Gym teacher off

I remember your face when I punked myself out
The twinkle in your eyes
Your daughter was her own unique self
The flash of fright across your face
Knowing it would mean hardships

I remember your disappointment
When I almost got in big trouble
You had me read Gibron
You understood I had to move on

I remember you trying to understand
Your adventurous daughter
Not ever relating but still giving me
The room to fly

I remember the fear in your eyes
The first time I was paralyzed
The second time when you
Told that doctor he was wrong

I remember when I realized
All you had ever done for me
The day I became a mother

You are the woman in this world
That means more to me than any other
You have always been at my side
You will always love me

I have always looked up to you
I have learned from you
How to be the eccentric woman
I am today

Mama you are my Best Friend
I Love You!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

To Dance in Heels

Here and there blogging women are writing poems about red shoes. I happen to have wrote a book about women and their love for shoes. It is my baby that I have been trying to get published. An anthology of nonfiction short stories. I included my shoe story which is below....

I joke I found my feminine side at the age of thirty. I began learning how to put on make-up, and get all dolled up for an evening. In no time at all, I came to realize I loved shoes, especially the feeling of dancing in heels. Some people might have thought I drank some funky drink or motherhood had put a spell on me transforming the woman they knew suddenly overnight. A woman they last remembered as a shoeless, nonchalant dresser strolling up to them outside the coffee house wearing Nine West pumps, a pretty dress, and a splash of lipstick. I believe it was simply my time to bloom.

I had three years of enjoying the feeling of walking down the street wearing heels before my life dramatically changed physically. I reached a point with my disease and I became disabled from the progression of Multiple Sclerosis. My balance and leg strength had worsened and I had to start walking with a cane. Wearing heels occasionally turned into a pleasure of my past and a goal to be reached with patience and hard work. Once, I told my physical therapist that wearing heels is one of my personal goals. She looked at me shaking her head not agreeing with my choice at all. I keep that goal to myself now and I tell her my other goal of dancing.

Over the years, my style of dress continues to integrate a feminine twist to its funky fusion of Trendy and Bohemian style. My love for shoes has continued growing with knowledge and new pairs even with my shoe limitations. I focus my captivation on low heels, non-risk boots, and cute flats depending on how I am physically any given day. I do test my limits with height from time to time as I strive to reach my goal to dance in heels again.   

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

~Gichigami ~

Gichigami ~

Oh powerful Nookomis!

You take my breath away
Every morning when my eyes set upon you.

One day you will be gentle and soothing
The next day you are raging with passion.

At times people fear you
At most they are in awe!

You are Nookomis to all!

Then why is respect lacking for you?
Why every day are you poisoned?
Why do people fight over what is left of you?

Oh powerful Nookomis!

Are you laughing or crying at us humans?
                                                                    ©River 1996

One of my favorite poems I wrote many years ago. I grew up on the very tip of Lake Superior in Duluth Minnesota. The lake is a big part of who I am along with my Anishinaabe/Ojibwe heritage. I use a couple of Ojibwe words in the poem. Gichigami means Lake Superior and Nookomis means grandmother. There was a battle over the big fresh water lake at the time I wrote the poem. Some Southwest States wanted the States around the lake and Canada to agree to pipe water down to them because they were running out of water. In my opinion and many others they choose to abuse their water so they could have green grass in desert conditions and other reasons. We did not go for it. I have no idea what they ended up doing with their water shortage.

~ ~
A friend asked me this question.  

I was wondering about the initial line “Oh powerful Nookomis!”… in my cultural view “grandmother” is wise and gentle….so I didn’t fully understand the line…but that is my weakness not the poems…which was well crafted. Would you mind expanding on your intent with that phrase?

I guess to start, I should explain water is female and animate in our cultural view. Nookomisag or grandmothers are wise, strong, and gentle. They are the teachers and traditionally were part of the council. “Oh Powerful Nookomis” Lake Superior is one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world. It is part of the St Lawrence Sea Way and the huge ocean liners carrying loads follow the water trail dropping off cargo on their way to Duluth. A bunch of those ships lie on the floor of the lake. The storms are intense. Once a friend and I were knocked down by a wave that crashed against the shore rocks walking on a boardwalk. My old dog that was 110 pounds got away in time but we were on the ground soaked. That is on shore. Anyways, Lake Superior is a Grandmother and very powerful. “Oh Powerful Nookomis” 
On other days, her beauty delights nourishing with peaceful bliss. I feel spiritually woken. I absorb her unconditional love and feel renewed by her waters. Miigwech!

One Stop Poetry- One Shot Wednesday
posted for week 19
Check it out- there's lots of good work to be read.  :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


When young we don’t care at all
at mid ego’s can fly
When old we don’t care again. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010



I land in the cradled arms of a river
touched by her grace
embraced in her love
I bathe in her waters
under a full moon
praying to my grandmothers
nibi minowa giizis
for strength and guidance
for their teachings of
releasing and healing
cleansing and cycling


lost strength

 Miigwech Nokomisag
                            River 10/10

posted for One Shoot Wednesday wk 17 on One Stop Poetry

* thanks to google image for the picture

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tea with Fuller and a Few More

Wouldn’t it be something
to be at a
Transcendentalism meeting
back in the day with
that would be amazing.

I would fit right in
challenging conventional thought,
challenging each other to
think outside the box
write even better.

I can see it now...
My arms flaring,
eyes glowing,
thoughts pouring,
passion uttered
with every word.

That is when I got a word in
with all those philosophical minds.

Protesting 19th Century
Culture and Society.
Resisting conformity from
Unitarian Doctrines,
Harvard Intellectuals.
Writing and debating for
Freedoms of thought,
Religion, and person.

I would be friends with
Margaret Fuller.
Two women
among a few more
in a group of men.
voicing their thoughts,
their opinions
for the centuries of women
that were hushed
and would be for
and still are.

All of them at the table
living way before their times.
The strength,
the perseverance
it took for them to continue
opening the doors for
You and I.
People were laughing at them,
others shunning them,
a few applauding.
While, we will never know
how many hid away
with their writings.

I would love to tell them
their writings are studied today,
praised for the thought and work.
I would love to tell them
they were a part of change,
Inspirational to many,
Revolutionary to thought.

I need to tell them
The truth about Indians.
Misunderstood and
unjustly Romanticized
their time through my time.

It would be something
to go back in time
and have tea with
All the members of the
Transcendental Club.

It would be something,
Even if I could only tell them
Thank You!

©River 6/2010

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