Niagara Mermaids by Priscila Uppal

Headshot of Priscila Uppal
Priscila Uppal

A colony of nudists sing through the waves
loose like sheer capes
at the border of here and south,
quivering unabashedly in orgasm.

It’s not the pirates or daredevils they want
or the hair of widows on balconies
stuck in their tracks with hearts spun like old records
under a mournful sun.

The honeymooners are who they desire
brimming with foam and white white sheets
trailing along the guardrail pungent with sex
even after a shower, still full of nerve.

Cascading down the cliff they signal,
follow the jump in their ears;
The mermaid voices sweeter, more difficult to cast
away than the lines of wedding bells.

Source: Priscila Uppal. Pretending to die. Exile Editions,   2001.

Priscila Uppal’s website

Too Near the Falls by Virginia Conn


Maid of the Mist Customers Boarding the Boat From the Docking Station. Image Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library.

We used to joke about honeymooning here, be home
in time for dinner at my mother’s every night.
But only if we could play movie stars, arriving
by train under a canopy of thick gray celluloid smoke.
I’d even marcel my hair.

We’re here now on a whim.  A drive without anticipation,
almost detouring into the mall at the last minute.
We forget to open the windows after customs, until
the sound thuds against the glass, that low, deep thunder
under the asphalt, the precise moment when the road joins
the adventure.  We follow the tourists; we need them
to help us fully appreciate this.  Besides, it is too loud
to discuss which way to go.  Whoever takes the lead must lead.

We’re handed slickers before the ride begins; I carry mine.
I didn’t come to be wrapped in plastic and float safely
through the mist.  I want to kick something into the rush
and track its furious ride down the cascade of water
drawn from deep in the earth and slammed back in its face.

I step back into you; you lift a damp lock of my hair
and it coils on your finger.  It is so loud.
Your heart, or mine, or both, responds with the same pulse,
or is it always there, the only beat the earth knows.

Source: The author, 2001.

Originally published in The Buffalo News.

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

Niagara Falls by Anonymous

(Song of the year, 1841)

Oh the lovers come a thousand miles,
They leave their home and mother;
Yet when they reach Niagara Falls
They only see each other.

See Niagara's waters rolling,
See the misty spray;
See the happy lovers strolling,
It's everybody's wedding day.

To see the Falls they took a ride
On the steamship "Maid O' the Mist";
She forgot the Falls she was so busy
Being hugged and kissed.

See the mighty river rushing
'Tween its rocky walls;
See the happy lovers strolling
By our Niagara Falls.

He said, "Is oo my darling?"
He said, "Whose darling is oo?"
He said, "Is oo my baby?"
And she always answered, "Goo-goo-goo."

Source: Dwight Whalen. Lover’s Guide to Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls: Horseshoe Press, 1990.

Wonders of the West; or, A Day at the Falls of Niagara in 1825: a poem by a Canadian by James Lynne Alexander


    Who has not had a wish t'inspect
Niagara's famed cataract ?
And all the wonders to explore
From Erie to Ontario's shore ?
The battles, lately fought between ;
Give lively interest to the scene ;
And lead the curious stranger round,
To scrutinize each battle ground.
But sentiments more noble far,
Than thoughts of that unnatural war,
The scenery around inspires,
And every feeling bosom fires.


    The Boat had stemm'd Ontario's tide,
And anchor'd on the southern side ;
A noble river with its waves,
Two rival nations' confines laves ;
That Giant stream, which through the lakes
Of Canada, its circuit makes,
And issuing from Ontario
About two hundred miles below,
(After so long a pilgrimage,
Less holy name were sacrilege)
Assumes St. Lawrence, name of awe
But here 'tis called Niagara.


    Upon this river's eastern side,
A Fortress stands in warlike pride ;
Ontario's surges lash its base,
And gradually its walls deface ;
And, from its topmost tower display'd,
A flag, with stripes and stars portray'd ;
Upon the west an ancient mound,
The Union Jack and - British ground :
Nor distant far another stands,
Which the whole river's mouth commands.
Between the two lay Newark village,
Which yet they let its neighbours pillage ;
Nor only so, but burn it down ;
And from its ashes now has grown,
Another, but more lovely far,
Since the conclusion of the war
Which they have nam'd Niagara. Continue reading "Wonders of the West; or, A Day at the Falls of Niagara in 1825: a poem by a Canadian by  James Lynne Alexander"