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About Mike Lyons



The Boatman

On a drizzly ride 'cross the mountain side
having left the embrace of Lodore,
A first time runner, while talkin 'bout boatmen,
said, "I know what they do it for."

"Do what?" was my question, and swift his reply,
"They run for the spit in the eye
of the demon who made the place."

"They run cuzz it's there. They run to defeat it.
They run cuzz they have to, the victory's so sweet.
It makes rigging in darkness and sleeping too little
A small price to pay to be in the middle
of Hell's Half or Moonshine on raw spring mornings,
in spite of the peril that comes with no warnings."

"They run for the combat," was his final thought,
but one there among us agreed with him not.

He had been with the boatmen on rivers of white.
 Had seen the same places where boatmen delight.
"The reason they do it is not to defeat it.
It's simpler than that, they run 'cuzz they need it."

"It's communion not combat that lures them in.
The call of the canyons, caress of the wind."

"So next time you talk to a boatman remember,
he runs wild rivers from March to November,
to be who he is, and not who he ought.
For he knows that God knows it's all that he's got."

2007, Mike Lyons
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Mike told us: I was born in the upper peninsula of Michigan but to my everlasting gratitude, my mother made it clear to my father that the family would relocate to a place that actually had a summer, so we slipped under the wire and escaped to Arizona in the early 1950's where I was schooled in the ways of the West and exposed to the characters that occupy space out here.  I was reluctantly introduced into the fraternity of "White Water Boatman" by a friend of mine about 30 years ago.  I went where they went and did what they did, but in truth I was little more than an unworthy imposter accepted into the group only because I was a friend of Merlin.
Time on wild rivers will change changed me.  I came to understand that rivers, like life, are there to teach lessons.  Sometimes the river is flat and calm, powerful but restrained, almost boring.  When the white water comes the river is chaotic and wild, you do you can to avoid disaster but the outcome is at best uncertain.  Sometimes your only course of action is to hang on and pray for flat water...and then the cycle repeats itself.
My friend died early but lived well. I watched him wring every drop of fun out of his life by doing things that most people would consider damn near stupid. He taught me much and some of what he taught me is in the poem. The rest is still inside looking for expression


About Mike Lyons:


I am a sixty-year-old financial advisor with a major Wall Street firm.  I married the first girl who said "yes" to a second date forty years ago and we are the parents of a son and daughter...and soon to be grand parents for the first time.







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