Niagara on the Lake by Frank McNie

See Fort George, hear cannon roar

imagine all that’s gone before,
then stroll through time and back again
just to be there both now and then.

Sip some wine enjoy a tour
or perhaps a spa to take a cure,
A short drive to see The Falls..
while all around you nature calls,
At the casino take a chance
Perhaps ‘Lady Luck’ will ask to dance.

World class hotels, great B & B’s,
Country Inns all geared to please,
fine restaurants and Queen street shopping
still you’re poised for border hopping
Golf, cycling, sailing for those who care
or a shaded porch, a good book, an easy chair.

Quaint little houses made of ginger bread,
museums, grande estates
show how life was led.
Antiques and butterflies galore,
fairy sightings by the shore.
How wonderful all this might seem,
enough for any mortal dream.

Then …” The Shaw Theatre…”

 

Source: ElectricScotland.com, 2004.

The River None Believe by John B. Lee

 

John B Lee
John B. Lee / theOntariopoetrysociety.ca

I think of the Niagara
and if I say
“the river it seems remembers nothing”
and you might say
“What?” you might say “are you crazy?”
and if I say
“well, the War of 1812 was fought here
from mouth to source
and it was
the worst conflict, the most violent
ever fought by Europeans
right here on Canadian soil…
not as ‘remember the Alamo’
but as ‘remember Lundy’s Lane'”
the heat of battle
to the death–the worst in North America
until the Civil War
yet if you travel now
to the sight
it’s like hardening of the arteries
of history
it’s carnival traffic, tarmac
and the roar of a frothy falls
full of whisky barrel values
like empty thread spools
dangling from a mad tailor
and all you see
is Blondin on his tight rope
over the rapids
not the red wind
of a single crimson night
how many summers ago
and gone
and if I say
“go to the heights above Burlington Bay
and listen for those headless ghosts
of eight men hanged
go to Queenston
and watch the far banks
for the bad boats
go to Newark/Niagara
and look for the conflagration
listen for the hiss of torches
and the crash of blackened rafters
go to little St. David’s
ride there on a dead horse
trample the vineyards
watch for the wine stain
in the blight of fire and ink
and if by
the echo of a wet rock
if by the strangled cry
of some turning eddy
foaming round in eternal rubble
wearing the shape of the flow
perilous enough
to the jarred heel
to spin a man’s craft
and crack his memory loose
as quick as a war club will
and if I look
to this land
and see
how a man is missed
as if he were never there
how his shape might drop away
like a walker in the fog
some phantom colour fading in the mist
with a ragged twin
of someone watching from the other way
what of this
this earth that holds us
this deeper gravity
this float of stones
these stories
dead tongues tell?

 

Source: The Author, 2001.

John B. Lee. From In the Terrible Weather of Guns  [manuscript]

William Kirby by Fisher Davidson

In old Niagara town, long aisles of ancient trees
Stand sentinel along the storied ways,
Tall, sturdy patriarchs of other days,
Whose busy leaves are ever whispering memories.
And one there was who walked beneath their arching shade:
True, gallant type of Christian gentleman,
He, faithful, passed the full, allotted span
Within this hoary town whose cause his own he made;
And always at his side there moved a shadowy throng:
Simcoe and Brock and noble Addison,
All who with axe and plough and sword and gun,
Laid firm its deep foundations that have lasted long,
All who, sojourning in this place, did love it well.
He was like to the Roman Livy, he
Who loved his town and ever strove to be
Worthy its great traditions and its annals tell.
So let his country keep his memory one pure sheen,
And bring him, there beside the ivied wall,
Beneath still other forest-veterans tall,
French whites and English roses, ‘twined with Maple green.

Source: E.J. Pratt, (ed). Canadian Poetry Magazine. vol. 6, no. 1, December 1941.