TR (ANNC): Up and down the Ohio they push their barges (LONG BOAT HORN) delivering wheat, coal, pig iron to the industrial east'but who are they really? Do we know? -- Join us for... Men on the River. (BOAT HORN)

TR: How's it going, Captain?

GK: Cincinnati straight ahead, two miles, 13 degrees off the port bow, and we should make Maysville by sun-up and Portsmouth by noon.

TR: Not so many little boats out on the river this year. One advantage of a bad economy. You don't have to worry so much about the weekenders.

GK: Yeah.

TR: Something wrong , Captain?

GK: Always something wrong, isn't there?

TR: Something's eating at you. Spit it out. You and me been pushing barges up and down the Ohio for twenty-five years now. Out with it.

GK: It's this new deckhand you signed on. I wish you'd asked me first.

TR: What's wrong with him?

GK: He doesn't talk like a boatman. And he holds his cigarette funny.

TR: Well, he seemed okay to me.


BC: Evening, Captain.

GK: Evening, mate.

BC: What you see out there?

GK: Cincinnati. A river bend. What do you see?

BC: Angelheaded hipsters.

GK: That all?

BC: Also a red wheelbarrow
glazed with rainwater
beside the white chickens.

GK: I see.

BC: And Suzanne.

GK: Who was she?

BC: She took me down to her place by the river and she fed me tea and oranges that came all the way from China And I touched her perfect body with my mind.

GK: She must've been crazy to take you down to her place.

BC: She was half-crazy.

GK: And oranges don't come from China.

BC: Hers did.

GK: You're making it up.

BC: She had a perfect body and her place was by the river. In the woods, which were lovely, dark, and deep.

GK: She was crazy, if you ask me. Anyway, we're on a boat. Don't care about woods. (STATIC)

FN (ON CB): Big Boy, this is 409. Come in, Big Boy.

GK: Four-oh-nine, this is Big Boy. I read you.

FN: I saw the best (GARBLED IN STATIC)

GK: I don't read you, 409. (STATIC)--Well-- Anyway, we're making good time. Coming up on Cincy. Not much traffic. Good night.

BC: Don't go gentle into that good night.

GK: Why not?

BC: Because old age should burn and rave at close of day.

GK: You talking about me?

BC: Yes, you should rage, rage against the dying of the light.

GK: Why?

BC: You get old, and Suzanne isn't going to take you to her place by the river.

GK: You sure know how to get on my nerves, mister.

TR: Better catch some more shuteye, mister. You're not on watch for three more hours.

BC: So you're saying I've got miles to go before I sleep?

GK: No, he's saying you've got miles to go when you can sleep.

BC: But what about the promises to keep?

GK: Well, if you promise to shut up, you can stand here and watch the river. Or the red wheelbarrow.

BC: How about the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
and the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox?

GK: You know, I don't think I want you steering this boat, mister? What's your name, by the way?

BC: Cory.

GK: Cory.

BC: Richard Cory.

GK: Oh boy. Al, why'd you hire this guy? Why?

TR: Well, I looked at him. He was a gentleman from sole to crown, clean favored--

BC: -- and imperially slim.

GK: Slimness is not a qualification for working on boats. Look around you.

BC: Imperially slim.

GK: That neither.

TR: And he glittered when he walked.

GK: He glittered when he walked.

TR: I thought we could put him out on deck in a fog and it'd be like running lights. (STATIC)

FN (ON CB): Big Boy, it's 409. Come in, Big Boy. (STATIC)

GK: Read you loud and clear, 409.

FN (ON CB): Big Boy, I'm seeing a red wheelbarrow glazed with rainwater and some white chickens.

GK: In the river? Over.

FN (ON CB): Sort of over the river. Over.

GK: You need to think about your drinking, 409.
FN (ON CB): And there's a hydrogen jukebox dead ahead.

GK: I'm not interested, 409. Over. Turn the radio off, Al.

TR: I did. There. It's off. (STATIC)--

GK: Where's the channel buoy, Al?

TR: Should be up ahead a quarter mile.

GK: I don't see it.

BC: It's up near the hydrogen jukebox.

GK: Put a lid on it, Mr. Cory. Better yet, go home and put a bullet through your head.

BC: Eventually. Not now. Right now I want to look at the jukebox and the birches.

GK: What birches?

BC: The birches that bend to left and right across the lines of straighter darker trees. Some kid's been swinging them.

GK: But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. You've seen them,
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain.

BC: I have --I've seen their trunks arching in the woods
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

GK: Nothing about girls at all. It's ice storms do that. Anybody knows that.

BC: I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter.

GK: Boys didn't do that to those birch trees. Ice storms did.

BC: Maybe angelheaded hipsters did it.

GK: Look, forget about birches. I'm trying to steer six barges heading up the Ohio river in the dark. I've got things on my mind.

BC: One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

TR: Captain, I saw something on your starboard side-- Look. (CHICKENS IN PASSING) A red wheelbarrow. (FN CHANTING WITH TABLA AND SITAR) And what looks to me like angel-headed hipsters.

GK: I've got miles to go, Al. Don't bother me with a lot of nonsense. (BARGE HORN, OFF) Whoops. Steer clear there. Hang on. (STRAINS AT SQUEAKY WHEEL). There we go.

BC: A close one.

GK: Plenty of room.

BC: You almost hit that casino riverboat.

GK: Wasn't even close.
FN (ON CB): Come in, Big Boy. Four-oh-nine here.

GK: Yeah, 409, come in.

FN (ON CB): There's a place up here by the river.

GK: What about it?

FN (ON CB): A lady named Suzanne.

GK: What about her?

FN (ON CB): She's got a nice body. (GARBLED IN STATIC)

GK: You know something? Everyone on this river is crazy except me.

BC: Suzanne wasn't crazy. Just about me. Boy o boy. She was lovely in her bones and when small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them, and when she moved, she moved more ways than one.

GK: Don't talk dirty, okay? I'm a captain, I've got to concentrate on steering these barges upriver. That's my job.

BC: Mind if I ask what sort of cargo we're hauling?

GK: Got poetry anthologies.

BC: A bargeload of poetry?

GK: A hundred eighty tons of poetry anthologies heading upriver.

BC: What anthology?

GK: It's called My Pants are Too Tight and Other Poems.

BC: Is it good poetry?

GK: Somebody thought so.

BC: Which poets?

GK: All the biggies. Frost, Stevens, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Hughes, Williams, Kumin, Sexton, Oliver, Keillor.

BC: Keillor?

GK: Yeah.

BC: Never heard of him.

GK: Very big now. But among younger people, so that's why you wouldn't be aware of him.

BC: What does he write?

GK: Poems. Sonnets.

BC: Huh. Never heard of him.

GK: Ask Suzanne about him.

BC: He knew Suzanne?

GK: He knew Suzanne when she was young and beautiful. He was way ahead of you in line.

TR: How about a poet named Billy Collins? Is he in there?

FN (ON CB): Big boy, there's a woman in a boat (STATIC GIBBERISH) ... .mile below the birches (STATIC GIBBERISH)

GK: Billy Collins'Who's he?

TR: Poet. New York.

GK: Poet named Billy? There's evangelists named Billy and ballplayers and nightclub singers. No poets.

TR: Very popular, from what I hear. And he was poet laureate.

GK: Poet laureate of what? Teaneck, New Jersey?

TR: Poet laureate of the United States.

GK: Must've just sat around on his laurels then. Never heard of him.

BC: There was Billy Collins the bantamweight champion in the late Thirties. He had very quick hands. They called him the Human Hummingbird of Death and Destruction.

GK: Before my time.

BC: Hey, look over there-- (CREAKING, WHOOPING) Boys swinging on birch trees. (FLIGHT OF BOY INTO RIVER) And chickens. (SFX)

GK: You'd better take that gun and go home, Mr. Cory.

BC: The name isn't Cory, it's Collins, Captain. (SPINS CYLINDER). And this right here is Mr. Samuel Colt. I am a pistol-packin poet, and I just want to say, --Captain! my Captain! your fearful trip is done.--

GK: What do you want, Collins?

BC: What don't I want-- I want it all. I want money and fame, I want beautiful women, I want jazz, I want angel-headed hipsters and I want to swing on birches.

SS: Hi. Somebody mention beautiful women? I'm Suzanne. Want to come to my place by the river?

BC: Sure do, babes.

SS: How do you like my body?

BC: It's perfect.

SS: You care for tea and oranges?

BC: Love some.

SS: And I've got plums. Cold and delicious. In my icebox. Want to touch my body with your mind?

BC: Love to. How about I push you around in a red wheelbarrow and play you some songs from a hydrogen jukebox?

SS: I'll be waiting. At my place.

BC: By the river.

SS: I'll be there.

BC: See you round, Captain.

FN (ON CB): Big Boy, Big Boy, this is 409, waiting here by the birch trees... (STATIC) Over. (GIBBERISH, STATIC)

GK: On our way, 409. On our way.

TR: You gonna let him get away with it, Captain? Walk away with the girl? And the tea and oranges?

GK: It's okay, Al. We've got a load of poetry to deliver (HISS).

TR: It's smoke coming out of the hydrogen jukebox, Captain.

GK: C'mon, let's push it overboard before it blows.



TR (ANNC): Up the mighty Ohio they go (SFX), carrying cargo to the little towns along the way and giving quarter to no man... Men on the River.