Ed Madden’s post-flood poem

gervais street bridge

It was reported that Ed Madden, poet laureate of Columbia, read a poem at Mayor Steve Benjamin’s State of the City speech last night.

I asked Ed to share, and here it is:

At the Gervais Street Bridge Dinner

18 October 2015

And here we all are, this golden hour
on the river; on a bridge between

two cities, a bowl of blue sky
and gold light above us, the brown water

below us, behind us, beyond,
the current beneath all our conversations,

and later the lanterns all coming on


J. says there was this woman, Rachel,
not really affected, but needed to do

something, needed to help–there, in his
neighborhood, clipboard in hand, she made

sure that everyone got what they needed
as the floods receded down the streets,

and people assessed what was left


Someone makes a toast–to the first
responders walking by, a downed policeman,

to people making their way together, finding
their feet, together. A mayor says the rivers

don’t divide us, they bring us together,
and with each toast we make–all of us

gathered at the long tables, the river
threading our conversations–with each toast

a gust of wings above us, a flyover of geese
following the river home, and in the dark,

the rough voices still singing

4 thoughts on “Ed Madden’s post-flood poem

  1. Doug Ross

    Apparently a poem now just
    requires breaking sentences into

    random length fragments and then
    throwing in an adjective or



    I’ll stick with the old school:

    The Drought Of 2015
    Rain, rain, go away!
    Little Dougie wants to play!

    [drops mic]

  2. Ed

    Unrhymed pentameter, mostly iambic, not random. Free verse has been a dominant mode for almost century now. Even Shakespeare wrote in unrhymed pentameter. Though I’m no Shakespeare. :)


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