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

Niagara by Father James B. Dollard

Niagara by Frederic Edwin Church
Incessantly thy waters thus have rolled
    Through the dim aeons of unmeasured Time,
    While God was fashioning His work sublime,
Or ere His sulphurous forges could grow cold!
When Egypt loved Osiris and retold
    His charmed birth from out Nilotic slime,
    When Chaldea read the stars, and Homer's rhyme
Was yet undreamt -- Niagara thundered bold.

So night and day throughout coverging years
    Hoarse voices rose above the hissing spray
        Scaring the lonely Indian on the shore!
These bellowing chasms harbored nameless fears --
    Demons and dragons in contorted play
        Lashing the frightened waters evermore!

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

About Father Dollard

Loretto Convent, Niagara Falls by Father James B. Dollard

Loretto Convent, c1910

I look below;  Niagara’s torrent white
    Is eager hurrying to the dread abyss;
    I hear its thunder as the waters hiss
Over the awful brink, to plunge from sight
In seething spray!   Confusion at its height
    Is pictured there; but even on convent walls
    The radiant glow of even gently falls
And all is harmony and holy quiet!

Like some blest soul on Heaven that ever dreams,
    Bending its chastened look beyond the skies,
        Regardless of the tumults of the world;
So, crowned with peace this cloistered abbey seems,
    And on its peerless heights serene doth rise,
        While deep below the raging floods are hurled!

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

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.

The Brittle Branch by Philip J. Curtis

She walks alone this night,
No longer fearing nocturnal birds.
Superficial days and existential nights,
Too many Form 4s for her flights.

The sun rising,
The moon just right,
The tourist season
Not over quite,
The way she
Might have planned it.
Finally, a bath of mind,
Her turn in line,
PCBs and feces too,
This time.

Didn’t complain,
They said there wasn’t
Another way.
Desiring one
With the icy art,
Best she could do,
Was an unfelt lark,
Trapped in the immensity
Of the existential trinity:
Cold flowing steel,
Bold turbine wheel,
No-essence meal.

But she’ll be content
With the stability
Of her new-found therapy,
The last Valhalla,
Where strange attractors
Lose bifurcations
And computers crash,
Drowned by an unknown fist
Of greatest mist,
Returning to the place
Of phase space none,
Not surviving her space
Of haze, race, nun.

It was cold,
And the icy creatures
Mocked a fractal joy,
The roar and poise
Of the secular trinity
Seemed a little hungry.

Many more like her
Have visited
The brittle branch,
Cat-like in Winter
Star and sun,
Alive and dead
In Schrödinger fun.

Broken frozen figurines,
Fallen from their shelves,
Drowned in the mist
Of a melancholy twist,
Bouncing cry-eyed
Into the rocky tub,
Bouncing wide-eyed
To the bottom’s hub.
So cold a tumbling,
To the sea.

Like her, the bloody bobs
Counting tourists’ ticks,
‘round and ‘round
The rocky tub,
Click, click,
Are not on the screen;
For the Trinkers
And Shrinkers,
Pulp Pushers and Rhinos
Have made their deal for steel,
No one to know
Lost dot bobs for real;
Measuring success
By the number of
Polymorphs of nymphs and dwarfs
Still on the screen.

Those who knew her
Have lost her,
And have poured
Their own eternal mist.
The rest will be leaving soon,
For the latest seller,
Or the signs of the moon.
Please get ready,
We’ll all need a room soon.

Until the parameters are tweaked,
And the densities just right,
Multicoloured and bright,
We won’t hear the Humanist drummer tonight.
Until the old texts
Have seen the young forced players’
Superficial smile
For existential layers,
Thousands more birds
May fall a long mile.

Good-bye our friend,
Thank you for singing
So bittersweet;
You may have saved
Someone on the street.
But for now and for you,
The Trinkers and Shrinkers,
Pulp Pushers and Rhinos,
Have lost a friend too.

With humility and hope,
Perhaps ten score hence,
The Witch may catch the bypass,
And the cash may catch the pitch;
Flooding virgin tears
Into all our ears.
But waiting for the song
To sign cast-laden legs,
We weep weed-laden heads.

Philip J. Curtis, Ó August, 2001

Source: The author, August 2001.