Niagara by Mrs. Phebe A. Hanaford


Mrs. Phebe A Hanaford, Universalist Minister, women’s rights activist, lesbian, and author

Awe-struck I stand
Beside this avalanche of waves, and hear
The voice of God from out these watery depths.
Emotion-full, my soul in vain essays
To speak the thoughts that by this scene have birth.
Hark! to the voice of many waters here:
Like that great voice in Patmos heard by John,
It speaks of power, resistless energy,
And mighty purpose unconfined by man.
To me it speaks of God’s almighty love,
Forever surging round the human soul:
The rocks of sin, the shoals of ignorance,
But bid those waves of love in tumult rise,
In rapids like old ocean’s storm-waves, or, as here,
In one vast water-sheet, the cataract’s plunge.
Thus shall it flow till time shall be no more,
And every soul is borne upon its waves,
All cleansed by its pure waters, to the land
Where, joyful, they shall all be moored at last.


Source: Charles Mason Dow. Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls. Albany: State of New York, 1921. p. 756-757

Originally published in Mrs. Phebe A. Hanaford.  From Shore to Shore and Other Poems. Boston: D. B. Russell; San Francisco: A. L. Bancroft & Co., 1871.

Somewhere Between Detroit and Syracuse by Jessica Lyne Jefferson

for: S.D.

We walked barefoot downtown,
Took off our raincoats under the falls,
With our pant legs rolled up,
We swam in Niagara’s fountain.

We met each other there.

We danced in a three foot pond,
Playing with someone else’s children.
Side-stepping forgotten wishes,
We filled the lines of our poem.

You asked me to marry you there.

There, when I told you of my
Dysfunctional family and lovers,
A girl’s need for stability; her strife
Of seeking greatness and purpose.

You said we would live life humble.

You went back to New York;
Taught your son to say my name.
Wrote me into your lectures;
Read my poems to your class.

You asked me to marry you there.

I, lost a tear for my ignorance,
Stepped away from myself,
Trying to recreate my vulnerability-
An insulting offer to you.

So I put those words away.

You were the first mirror to see my back eyes.
The first man to curse a shooting star,
For the raging flame it was.
The first poem I wrote,
As a woman.


Source: The author, 2001. Written in 1997.

En Route to Niagara Falls by Bill Cattey

I’ve been to Niagara Falls
For a Gay Science Fiction Convention.
While I was there,
I kissed a guy I’m hot for
In front of the tourists.

Beautiful guy.
Beautiful falls.

On the way there,
Something even better happened.

After making my convention plans,
I got a call.
A friend I had a crush on
Wanted some help
Moving back to town for the summer.

I gladly made the detour
With its promise
Of time together with him
And my hope for a something more.

I drove several hours solo
To the strains of “Court and Spark”
By Joni Mitchell.

The evening of my arrival
The weather was chilly and drizzly.
Please God, warm it up and dry it out.
I want to go to the beautiful gorges
And play with my beautiful friend
Before I leave this place.

The next morning
It was just barely
Warm enough, and dry enough.
We trekked down the trail
Into the beautiful gorge.

No others were there.
So we stripped down
Had our fun
And then drove off.

In retrospect,
We didn’t do all that much.
And I’m not Alan Ginsberg
So I won’t go into details.

After that, whenever I hear
Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark”,
I remember fondly:
My trip to The Falls,
The detour,
The beautiful gorges,
My friend,
And our mischief.


Source: Poems of Bill Cattey webpage

Biography of Bill Cattey

25 December 2001