Sad Story by Win Valiquette

There was a young lady named Carol
Who found herself in a big barrel.
It went over the Falls
Amid many loud calls....
There ONCE was a lady named Carol


Source: Laroque, Corey. Here’s What the Poets are Saying. Niagara Falls, Ont.: Niagara Falls Review, November 21, 2009

This limerick was entered into the So You Think You Can Rhyme (2009) Limerick Contest to find Niagara Falls’ Poet Laureate

Go to the Limericks page

Brave Men by Doug Harris

Brave men – know the type – who have balls?
Drive stunt cars so fast and through walls…
Normally wear apparel
To protect, but a barrel?!
Are there any survived from these falls?


Source: Laroque, Corey. Here’s What the Poets are Saying. Niagara Falls, Ont.: Niagara Falls Review, November 21, 2009

This limerick was entered into the So You Think You Can Rhyme (2009) Limerick Contest to find Niagara Falls’ Poet Laureate

Go to the Limericks page


The Wonderful Leaps of Sam Patch by Anonymous

[n.b. This is the Niagara section only]

sam
Sam Patch Jumping at Niagara Falls
From The Wonderful Leaps of Sam Patch, c1870

Next, to Niagara thousands flock,
To see him jump from Table Rock,
Into these waters, thunder-hurled,
The seventh wonder of the world.
Folks swarmed on bank and giddy ledge,
On dangerous precipice’s edge,
Nay, really, it has been said,
They stood one on the other’s head,
To get a view when gallant Sam,
Came cool (and modest as a clam),
Pausing upon the trembling verge
To list to what might prove his dirge!

The sun was red, the cliffs aglow,
And foaming white the gulf below,
As Sammy turned his fearless eye
From crowded earth to brilliant sky,
And boldly took the fearful leap
Down, down, into the seething deep!

Each breath was held, each eye was strained—
Huzzah! at last the bank he’s gained!
A shake, a gasp, his breath to catch—
“Now! who will laugh at Samuel Patch?”

‘T was there Sam made his greatest dive—
Feet—full one hundred and sixty-five!


Source: The Wonderful Leaps of Sam Patch. Rochester, NY: Len Rosenberg, Rochester Collection. Reproduction of a book originally published by Len Rosenberg in the 1870s.

Platform built at the base of Goat Island for Sam Patch’s Jump in 1829.
From Official Guide Niagara Falls, River. Electric, Historic, Geologic, Hydraulic by Peter A. Porter with illustrations by Charles D Arnold published 1901. Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Sam Patch did not jump from Table Rock as mentioned in the poem and as shown in the illustration. in 1829 he constructed a 120 foot high platform at the base of Goat Island and jumped from there, as depicted in the illustration.

Read more about Sam Patch

Chernobyl by John Wall Barger

barger
Annie Edson Taylor, Queen of the Mist, After Her Trip Over the Horseshoe Falls
Photo by M.H. Zahner
Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Annie Edson Taylor
first to survive Niagara Falls in a barrel
she is our heroine.
The Zone glitters like a mirage
an abandoned city
à la Tarkovsky’s Stalker
fizzing with radiation.
Taylor—praise her—sleepwalks
on the lawn of the soporific
hospital.  She blinks,
eyes yellow, shadowed
by the central chimney.
Is it a lighthouse in the desert?
The Zone wears her dream
like a gown.  The hospital
wears the rubble like a gown.
Taylor wears a long black dress
& a fruit hat.  Front stairs
of the hyperacute hospital,
Taylor coughs, on her knees.
How, you wonder,
did she get here?  Don’t ask me.
I wanted to write a poem
to exalt a nice thing.
Yet here she is, spasming,
spitting a dark thread.
“Stop!”  you say, “Don’t go in!”
Yet in she goes.
Her black dress slips off
& her fruit hat.  She is naked
walking the hallway
past rooms of box-spring beds.
Here is a room heaped
with clothes: firefighter boots,
gas masks. Sooty tables,
murky slime.  An arthritic tree
curls in a shattered window.
A box-spring so tiny
It could be a doll’s bed.
Taylor stops, bows low,
palms together, mumbling words
I can’t even hear.
I’m tempted to remind her
she died sixty-five years 
before Chernobyl.
But now she’s alert,
back straight, listening
with her whole body
for what? I beg her
to put on the fruit hat,
just for the end of the poem.
It’s not too late!
But she keeps tossing it
onto a pile
of melted toys.


Source: John Wall Barger.  The Mean Game. Windsor, Ont.: Palimpsest Press, 2019.

Visit the website of John Wall Barger 

Follow Barger on social media @johnwallbarger

Read about Annie Edson Taylor

 

Niagara Daredevil, 37, Buried Near the Falls by Gwendolyn MacEwen

My apologies to Gwendolyn MacEwen’s family for initially publishing this poem on the Niagara Falls Poetry Project website without waiting for proper copyright permission.  It has been removed at the family’s request.


The poem, about daredevil Karel Soucek, was published  in Poetry Canada Review, vol. 8, no. 4,  1987

Read about Gwendolyn MacEwen