Monday, May 18, 2015


People like me stand along the Ohio River bank, watching boats go by and wondering how things look from out there, especially as time wears on and the novelty wears off. How many times do you see downtown Louisville from the river at night before you mouth stays closed and your shoulders shrug, "Been here. Will be here again. No big deal."

We take pictures of towboats and the people who work on them. We attend open houses to look at what to us are the incredibly large engines that move them. A boat is someone's home for three or four weeks at a time. Boats have names. Some people even write songs to them.

But towboats would be nothing without something to push, name barges. Those big boxes that haul coal or limestone or whatever are the reasons the boats exist, yet they have receive none of the attention the boats do.

An Ohio River barge is about 400-and-some tons of steel that take a lot of pounding and scraping. It's what they're meant to do.

(Disclaimer: Coal barges are about 195 feet long and 35 feet wide. Dimensions may vary by a few feet. Barges hauling chemicals or built for other uses may have different dimensions.)

If I could write a Shakespearean sonnet in iambic pentameter the way poets do, I would write Ode to a Barge, just for the challenge. I need something with meter and structure. Free verse is something I just don't get.