Niagara Falls, I Do Not by Scott Manley Hadley

hadley
Still from Hadley’s Video Niagara Falls, I Do Not


Staring at the water
Beside the top of Niagara Falls
Thinking about throwing myself in.

My sister is visiting and I am exhausted by
Pretending I don’t want to die
Which makes me want death more.

I imagine my body smashing against the rocks
Or
Being pummelled under by the water.

I see my
Fat
Bald
Sad
Body
Floating down the river
On its back
Disgusting the other
Fat
Bald
Sad
Bodies that stand looking at geography
In this trash town
As if it means redemption.  

I stop myself
By thinking
What if I become a ghost.

What if
In this horrible world
Of horrible horrors
The punishment for suicide
Is an eternity on Earth?

I step away from the edge
And tell no one
How close I was
To jumping.


Source: Scott Manley Hadley, 2003

First recorded for Moonchild Magazine, 2019

Visit the website of Scott Manley Hadley

Death of an Immigrant by Bobbie Kalman

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The author with her Mother and Father, Imre Kalman
Photo courtesy of Bobbie Kalman

My father cheated death a number of times.
People called him a hero.
In Hungary, he was my hero.
But our Revolution failed,
and our dreams were denied.

On Dad’s 35th birthday,
we fled our country
in the middle of the night.
“You’re so lucky you got out,”
those left behind cried.
But my father was never the same.
Although his body was safe,
his spirit had died.

We became immigrants in a country far away.
For my father, that was the saddest day.
Although his life was still ahead,
he fled backwards in his mind
to happier times in the place we left behind.
His life became conversations with the past.
Mythical, magical stories filled his head
Stories that took place long before we were born
Stories we learned to dread.
Being kids, we preferred the present instead.

Our new home was a shrine to what used to be,
but it was a place we never felt free.
The rest of us forged ahead with our new lives,
but we felt too guilty to look in his eyes.
Eyes that were empty—showing no spirit inside.
Dad thought he cheated death,
but he just didn’t die.

The doctors called him a “medical miracle.”
They took out organs, cut off his leg,
and started his stalled heart three or four times.
Then, one day, his heart just broke.
His body finally died.
If only he could have realized…

People die for the myths they create.
And then, suddenly, they find out—too late
that love exists only in the present.

I hope you’re in the place of your dreams, Dad.
I hope there is nothing there that
makes you feel sad.
If only you could have read my book!
I went back to the past to have a good look,
at our lives in Hungary,
where you were my hero.


Source: Bobbie Kalman, 2023

Read about Bobbie Kalman

Resignation to the Approaching Period of Decline and Decay by James Melloy

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The page from The Album of Bradt Family Hair with this poem pasted on it 
Courtesy of Brock University Archives & Special Collections

Days of my youth, ye have glided away ;
Hairs of my youth, ye are frosted and gray ;
Eyes of my youth, your keen sight is no more ;
Cheeks of my youth, ye are furrowed all o’er ;
Strength of my youth, all your vigor is gone ;
Thoughts of my youth, your gay visions are flown.

Days of my youth, I wish not your recall ;
Hairs of my youth, I’m content ye should fall ;
Eyes of my youth, ye much evil have seen ;
Cheeks of my youth, bathed in tears have ye been ;
Thoughts of my youth, ye have led me astray ;
Strength of my youth, why lament your decay ?

Days of my age, ye will shortly be past ;
Pains of my age, yet a while can ye last ;
Joys of my age, in true wisdom delight ;
Eyes of my age, be religion your light ;
Thoughts of my age, dread ye not the cold sod ;
Hopes of my age, be ye fixed on your God.


This poem is from a newspaper clipping dated December 8, 1893, pasted into The Bradt Family Hair Album in the Brock University Archives. The Bradt family were United Empire Loyalists who settled in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the St. Catharines area. 

Above the poem is written:

“A Relic of 1812

The following beautiful lines were among the relics left by Mrs. Susan Dunn, (wife of William Dunn, J.P., late of the township of Wainfleet, and county of Welland, Ont.) and second eldest daughter of the late David Price, who for many years held the position of secretary of the government stores at Fort George, Niagara.”

Beneath the poem is written:

“James Melloy,
Conductor of King’s Stores, &c., &c., &c.

This is for the amiable the Misses Price to learn by heart, which will give great pleasure and joy to their devoted and very humble servant,

James Melloy,
Fort George, at Head Quarters, Oct. 29th, 1812” 

Another poem that might be of interest is Lines Written for a Lady’s Hair Album, at Niagara by M.F. Bigney. Bigney’s poem is not in the Bradt album.

Read the article Hairy Memories: Hair albums used braided hair to create memories by James Rada, Jr.

 

 

Under the Falls by James Penha

under
James Penha and His Husband, Ferdy, Shortly After Their Wedding Ceremony, on the Maid of the Mist Boat in Front of the American Falls
Image courtesy of James Penha

 

My memories begin with the cascade
of tears at Niagara Falls as I screamed
NO when my father led us to board
the boat he said would be sailing
“under the Falls.” Under the Falls,
he said. Distinctly Under the Falls.
Not near, not close to, but under.
What three-year-old would not weep
uncontrollably, unstoppingly, until 
assured there would be no boat ride
that day or the next. Seventy years 
later, right after marrying his husband
at Niagara Falls City Hall, the old boy
kissed his mate on The Maid of the Mist 
as it carried them crying and laughing
quite safely not quite under the Falls.


Source: The author, 2022

Expat New Yorker James Penha (he/him🌈) has lived for the past three decades in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his work is widely published in journals and anthologies. His newest chapbook of poems, American Daguerreotypes, is available for Kindle. His essays have appeared in The New York Daily News and The New York Times. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Twitter: @JamesPenha

Niagara Falls: A Poem by Jim Daniels

 

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Clifton Hill, 1977
Photo by Ron Mottola
Ripley’s Museum on the left
Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library


Niagara Falls
is a long poem of 700 lines where three stories, growing up Catholic in the industrial North, a honeymoon to Niagara Falls and a pilgrimage to Assissi, Italy, are interwoven in a master work of fractured narration. The language is relaxed and upbeat where metaphysical concerns meet, head on.

 

Excerpt from Niagara Falls (p. 8-9):

25 years ago, here,
on a rainy camping trip
my father splurged on
Ripley’s Believe It
Or Not Museum where I stared
at the shrunken head.
I bought a postcard:
The Hair continues to grow.
I still have it: long beaded threads
hang from the nose like a rosary.


Source: Jim Daniels. Niagara Falls. Easthampton, MA: Adastra Press, 1994

Read about Jim Daniels