In the yellow and blue dawn of winter
I will come for her
My misty apparition
who fogs my eyes and senses
and comforts me with her chilled
She knows my secret sins
She’s lived my life
“Come in,” says Niagara
“The water’s fine”
I know it’s not true, it’s freezing in December
Look up from the Horseshoe Falls
see the Rainbow Bridge, Goat Island, the gaudy signage
Look down upon the frigid rapids
My misty apparition
who fogs my eyes and senses
and I wonder how it will be
to know the caress
of my sometime true lover
as I lapse gently inside her
and ponder my new address
Slipping into her grasp
suicide and marriage are one
no cold, no fear
Source: The author, 2022. Of Sometime True Lovers was first published on All Poetry, 6/9/21, Written 10/31/98
Author’s note: While this appears to be about suicide in Niagara Falls, it’s really about what I owe to the city itself, the city that I grew up in and made me.
Brock University conferred on me the degree of Master of Arts in Popular Culture at the virtual convocation ceremony held in mid-October, 2020. Part of the requirements was to complete a major research project (MRP). My MRP was the development of a poetry walking tour of Niagara Falls using mobile app technology. The tour is available for android users (iOS will be coming) – click here for the instructions for using it.
In addition to developing the walking tour itself, an academic paper had to be written about the project. This paper is now in the Brock University Digital Repository and can be accessed using this link. I have included the abstract below.
Please feel free to send feedback if you use the walking tour app or read the paper.
The Niagara Falls Poetry Project (NFPP) has been an ongoing research-creation project for many years. In addition to being a site of poetry of place it is also a site of recovery and discovery of Niagara poetry. This MRP used social construction of technology and of literature theories as a framework to develop the Poetry Walking Tour of Niagara Falls (PWT) to extend the NFPP. Twenty-four points of interest were selected following a route along the Niagara River, passing Niagara Falls. Content analyses and close readings of the poetry on the NFPP website were conducted to preselect suitable poems to present to a panel of poets, academics, and end users at a Poetry Selection Event. Using the participatory design techniques of crowdsourcing and a modified Delphi method, the “best” poem for each of the points of interest was selected. The poem, explanatory historical and literary material, images, and multimedia were added to the Interpretours platform website, which was then used to populate the GuideTags mobile app for smartphones and tablets. The end result is a fully functional mobile app GPS guided walking tour of Niagara Falls that alerts users to points of interest that highlight the poetry and history of Niagara Falls. The role of the PWT in the local economy as a tourist attraction, particularly for the heritage and literary tourism sectors are contributions of the project
In the town where I was born, we’d walk up Lundy’s Lane And talk about the dreams we had. Life was a glass of ginger ale and a juke box serenade, And we never thought of growing old. Yes, I know those days have come and gone Still I think about my old home town.
At a place called the Rendezvous, we’d congregate at eight And talk about the baseball game. Lights flashing on the window pane, watching cars go up the lane, We’d wait for friends and lovers. Yes, I know those days have come and gone Still I think about my old home town.
Lavender mist makes a foggy night haze While the falls come crashing ahead. And I lean on the rail feel the damp cooling spray Watching the foam turn a luminous maze.
And as I drive towards the town, the neon signs flash on And thoughts begin to fill my head. Oh the happiness I found, in my family’s old home town Where nothing seemed to ever change. Life was very simple, way back then And we thought that it would never end.
When my dreams of long ago were scattered on the way And those magic times forgotten. Life went on but not the same, we grew up, we’re not to blame, And those magic times forgotten. Life was very simple, way back then And we thought that it would never end.
Source: Niagara Falls (Ontario). Coronation Centre Newsletter, 1974
Apple, a memoir in verse and pictures by Eric Gansworth is an important addition to the literature of Niagara. Gansworth, who was raised on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in Niagara County, New York, just outside Niagara Falls, still resides in the area and teaches in Buffalo, NY. The book has been longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award and is a Junior Library Guild selection.
Publisher supplied book information:
How about a book that makes you barge into your boss’s office to read a page of poetry from? That you dream of? That every movie, song, book, moment that follows continues to evoke in some way?
The term “Apple” is a slur in Native communities across the country. It’s for someone supposedly “red on the outside, white on the inside.”
Eric Gansworth is telling his story in Apple: Skin to the Core. The story of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds.
Eric shatters that slur and reclaims it in verse and prose and imagery that truly lives up to the word heartbreaking.
Run to your nearest library or book store to read this remarkable collection by Eric Gansworth.