finding the lost river

Michael Fallon

is a Senior Lecturer Emeritus in the English Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where he taught a huge variety of writing courses, Creative Writing, and Literature for thirty-five years.

His poems have appeared recently in Northeast Narrative, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, The Connecticut River Review, The Loch Raven Review, Illuminations, Southword, and other magazines.

He is the author of 4 collections of poetry, A History of the Color Black, Since You Have No Body (winner of the Plan B Press Poetry Chapbook Competition, 2011), The Great Before and After, and Empire of Leaves.

Essays have appeared recently in The New England Review, on lit hub-The Best of the Literary Internet, The Concho River Review, Broad Street Literary Review, The Razor, The Northern Virginia Review, and Blood and Thunder.

His innermost ear is turned always to what the Irish call “the music of what happens.”


Finding the Lost River

written by Micahel Fallon

First, cancer endangered Michael Fallon’s life, and then it threatened to take his voice from him. As a poet and teacher, how could he go on without a voice? In Finding the Lost River, Michael Fallon learns that to survive and recover from cancer, you must find that place in yourself which is the source of inspiration and strength, that deep river of being that — even now — flows through you.

This is the uplifting story of how he found “the lost river” and got his voice back — with the help of memory, imagination, and a sip of Garnacha wine.


© 2019 Michael Fallon | Recording © 2020 Rivercliff Books & Media. All rights reserved.

“Though I was declared free of cancer in November, I still writhe in its shadow, and I will not be beyond it until I recover completely. What is the right word for my experience of this disease? Affliction? Ordeal? Trial? Adventure? Transformation?”

“What does it mean to recover from an illness? What does it mean if you don’t recover? If you do recover, does it mean that you get your life back as it was before? Or do you reckon your losses and learn to live with them?”

We go upstream on the narrow trail above the river. Twenty feet below, it is shallow, as it flows clear over the rusted gold of a million rounded pebbles. Finally, we come to a little beach where the water deepens around smooth dolphin-colored boulders a few yards out in mid-stream”

“It is the same flow but not the same water, not the same mountains, hills, stones, sand. Oh, you know, it is not the river that is moving, but your mind… your mind flowing and glistening in the one long thought that is gliding forever by…”

“Somehow, there must always be a sense of freedom and possibility in our lives — in spite of, because of — the fact that health and life must come to an end. We must touch some deep place, the bottom of sorrow, and make at least a temporary peace with death so that being alive becomes a blessing and a wonder again.”

Q&A with Michael

Tell us about your story...

My sotry attempts to answer these questions: Where do you go within yourself  when you need the courage to endure suffering? What is happiness—does it just  happen? How do we find it when it is gone? How do we rediscover the lost  beauty and meaning in our lives and find the will and the strength to endure?

What was the inspiration for this story?

That deep down river that is always there if you know how and where to look.

What have you recently read that you loved?

I really enjoyed Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles. It is beautifully written. On every page, her sentences and metaphors are a joy to read, and it is a well-told story.

What fact about you would most surprise people?

How much I love puns and corny jokes.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

A medium bacon-cheeseburger on a toasted roll with slice of onion, beef-steak tomato, and a touch of mayo, soy sauce, and Trader Joe’s hot sauce.

Do you have any hidden talents?

You can’t see it when you look at me, but I like to cook. I love to make something good to eat for my wife, my family, and my friends to enjoy.

What is the best sound in the world?

I love to hear laughter, especially when it’s beautiful, happy laughter.

Who / What makes you laugh?

Laurel and Hardy. Jim Carey—especially as The Mask and the Grinch.

What's the best thing that's happened to you in the last few months?

 Facetime with my not quite 2-year-old grandson, watching his antics and hearing the new letters and words he has learned.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I’ve just begun writing a new book of poems, and it’s always exciting to begin a new book when I don’t know exactly where it will go and what it will be.

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