Devil’s Hole (Niagara Falls) by Margarita Feliciano

     The withered grass emerged from its coccoon,
     its muted green faintly aglow amid the stones.
A wintry howl still echoed in the wind,
            in the churning of waters down below.
Their cast-off plunder eddied round and round
      as chilly mists ascended    
to the hanging oblivion of the funicular,
     in an increasing throbbing of cables all aquiver.

                And yet in this vacation spot
    there will be daffodils and other flowers
             alien to the beginning of my life,
      when the unspeakable river flowed so gently
        within its honey shores.
       
    I know I will return again year after year,
                I will return again
    wearing a little smile of wonderment
perched on my lips like a question mark.

Original version published in Canadian Literature, no. 142/143, (Fall/Winter 1994). Vancouver: British Columbia University Press. p. 10. This version courtesy of the author, 2001.

Niagara by Willis Gaylord Clark

Here speaks the voice of God  let man be dumb,
Nor with his vain aspirings hither come.
That voice impels the hollow-sounding floods,
And like a presence fills the distant woods.
These groaning rocks the Almighty’s finger piled;
For ages here his painted bow has smiled,
Mocking the changes and the chance of time —
Eternal, beautiful, serene, sublime!

Source: Table Rock Album and Sketches of the Falls and Scenery Adjacent. Buffalo: Steam Press of Thomas and Lathrops, copyright by Jewett, Thomas & Co.,1856c.1848

Also published in: Myron T. Pritchard, comp.  Poetry of Niagara. Boston: Lothrop Publishing Co., 1901.

The Niagara Gorge (as seen from the Whirlpool Cable Car) by Father James B. Dollard

Spanish Aero-Car (photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library)
Had Dante ever seen this prodigy,
This monstrous monument of Nature's wrath,
Then had he found new terrors to surround
The entrance to Inferno.  At the gate
A power invisible becomes our guide,
And our smooth car swings into the Abime.

The evening shades have fallen and a cloud,
Huge, threatening, and amorphous settles down,
Bridging the gulf. Lo! now assails our ears,
The hissing tumult of the floods that dash,
Writhing in agony, 'twixt iron walls,
O'er rude and tortuous beds!

        The uproar grows,
And the pent waters churning into foam,
Round adamantine boulders, scream aloud,
Till maddened past all bound, they end the note
In maniac glee!

        Above and all about,
Colossal cliffs their lithic brows uplift,
To the grim skies, and horror reigns supreme!
"Release!" "Release!" the torn waves howl beneath --
"Give us release!" -- and the harsh cliffs reply,
With mocking echoes -- their eroded breasts,
Gargantuan laughter shakes.

        And now our car
Leaves the dread scene, and up the wall's sheer side,
Climbs, groaning with vast effort, till we view,
From perilous height the black gulf far below,
And quake to ponder plunging down so steep,
To dire destruction!

        All at once there opes
A rocky portal, and we breathe relief,
For, lo! the streets, the windows, and the lights!
The newsboys' cries, the clatter of the town!

Source: Rev. James B. Dollard. Poems. Toronto: The Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada, 1910.

About Father Dollard

Sons of Adam by Patricia Borneman Dagle

Sons of Adam, watch!

Thundering clouds
over the roar of a thousand nights
smashing water
spilling mist on ancient rocks.

Tremors beget the moving form
created to carry men in God’s direction
yet,

Sons of Adam, Listen!

Building the Tower of Babel
dumb in spirit
yet brilliant in designing
a god to themselves

In the midst of futile human endeavor
stands a mighty warrior,
an ancient ghost
“Onguirahra! Noss oossima!”
tall, courageous
believing in a power
greater than that
which was created

Sons of Adam, look!

On mighty rushing wings
He raises his spear
and with one fell swoop
brings down
the concrete rocks.

and the river rises up
to greet Him
moving faithfully forward
with the thundering power of the falls.

Peace is restored
and a tree planted by the river
reaches its roots out
and grows among men’s ashes.

while the warrior
rests beneath its shade.
And is refreshed
in the cool depths
of Onguirahra!

 

Source: The author, July 8, 2001.

Looking for Niagara by E. R. Baxter III

It’s Niagara lost
in the 20th century, disappeared
from the cereal box, up in mist,
a canvas backdrop in one hundred thousand
dead photographs, fading from postcards,
gone to Bermuda, Disney World, flown
to Aruba, splish took a bath at Niagara
splash went to Vegas for the weekend—
but had room at the motel
for Joseph and Marilyn
and were they impressed?
There’s no record of it.

But the first human record at Niagara
before it had name–the first human at ?
who left a flint spear point, water
falling at the whirlpool then,
at old gorge, and the spear point:
dropped in fear, in awe,
in wonder at new water,
ice falling who thought of it as !

Wandering hunter, archaeologists say, who
if he were there at all, didn’t stay long,
as if he had, for months let’s say, they’d
have known—would have found the tree
against which he relieved himself,
charcoal trace on stone, where he
cooked fish—as if no Niagara rock
has been left unturned.

The most recent evidence indicates he
did stay but a brief time—only minutes—
that dizzy from spoiled fish innards
he stumbled out of the woods
toward thunder, saw falling water, stared
slack-jawed into mists and steam rising
against south gorge wall, had visions:

The wall exploding, water rushing forth
gnawing south, divers fearful things—
dropped his spear, fled empty-handed
and throwing up back among the trees
and who wouldn’t have?

What he saw: the sun rising and setting
3 million 647 thousand 445 times, ten
thousand winters and springs, trees
leafing out, hot suns, leaves coloring,
withering, dropping, snows whirling,
grass greening, fogs gathering, rains,
trees dying, toppling, new trees as slim
as spears growing thicker than his body,
salamanders mating between his gnarled toes,
mice nibbling algae from his ankles, a wolf
marking territory on his left shin

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