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

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.



Niagara Falls: A Poem by Jim Daniels


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

Epiphanies on the First Cold Day by Robert Billings

The cover of Before the Heart Went Down by Robert Billings

I thought there was nothing in the fields of light
that was not there in darkness

After breakfast in a quiet house
surrounded by pastures of new frost
my heart crouches believing
the next sound will be
something it can sing

This is my persistent nightmare

I jump into a shallow river
Hy feet sink in mud
to mid-calf, the top
of my head
just breaks the surface

It’s November:
too soon for ice
to preserve me

At noon I warm my hands at the apples
ripening on a window sill

The smell of cold through an open window

On the corner of my desk
is a print of a mother-goddess
in a black plastic frame:

Third century B.C.

The guide-book defines
means living together

Sometimes a glancing blow
is the back of my wife’s hand
slowly down my thigh

And so it comes back to this

In Munich 1974
a man in a bar
said a cormorant
dropping from a cliff
is the soul of
whatever flung this
earth on the sea

Midnight on the highway through Perth County
wearing sunglasses against the headlights
I bite through the cold skin of an apple

Source: Waves vol 11, no 2 & 3, Winter 1983

Robert Billings, born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and raised Fort Erie, became well known in Canadian literary circles as a poet, critic, teacher,  and editor of Poetry Canada Review and Poetry Toronto.  In 1983 he penned the poem “Epiphanies of the First Cold Day.” Epiphany 2 foreshadowed his eventual fate. In 1986 after his marriage broke down and bouts of depression hit him, he threw himself into the Niagara River. His body was not recovered until six months later.

Fellow poet and editor Herb Barrett paid tribute to Billings in his poem For Robert Billings

Watch the video At the Brink: A Personal Look at Suicides Over Niagara Falls by Michael Clarkson. Clarkson was a long-time friend of Robert Billings, who is one of the people discussed in the video.

For Robert Billings by Herb Barrett

The Niagara Gorge, c1900.
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress


whose body was recovered
from the Niagara Gorge

Some things leave us speechless
‡‡‡‡‡fear of the unknown
‡‡‡‡‡confronting death
‡‡‡‡‡falling in & out of love
‡‡‡‡‡trouble so acute
‡‡‡‡‡we feel strapped
‡‡‡‡‡in a strait jacket
‡‡‡‡‡with no road back
‡‡‡‡‡no forward
‡‡‡‡‡mute as a sacrifice
‡‡‡‡‡waiting to be rendered

‡‡‡‡‡was beauty created
‡‡‡‡‡poems spun
‡‡‡‡‡like tapestries
‡‡‡‡‡to enhance
‡‡‡‡‡the bleak corners
‡‡‡‡‡of existence

‡‡‡‡‡some dark corrosive
‡‡‡‡‡ate at the spirit
‡‡‡‡‡the eclectic rocket
‡‡‡‡‡somewhere misfired

‡‡‡‡‡who can judge
‡‡‡‡‡the why
‡‡‡‡‡the day
‡‡‡‡‡desolate as famine
‡‡‡‡‡that drove you
‡‡‡‡‡to the brink
‡‡‡‡‡lonely as a last moment
‡‡‡‡‡your body engulfed
‡‡‡‡‡by roaring mist…

‡‡‡‡‡the cruel rocks
‡‡‡‡‡keep their secret
‡‡‡‡‡where a cry ends
‡‡‡‡‡and silence begins

Source:  Canadian Author & Bookman, Vol. 63, no.3, Spring 1988

Robert Billings, a Niagara Falls, Ontario, native, became well known in Canadian literary circles as a poet, critic, teacher,  and editor of Poetry Canada Review and Poetry Toronto.  In 1983 he penned the poem “Epiphanies of the First Cold Day.”  Epiphany 2 reads in part:

This is my persistent nightmare:
I jump into a shallow river
My feet sink in mud to mid-calf, the top of my head just breaks the surface
It’s November
Too soon for the ice to preserve me.

In Waves, vol. 11, issue 2/3, winter 1983

In 1986 after his marriage broke down and bouts of depression hit him, he threw himself into the Niagara River. His body was not recovered until six months later.

Read “Epiphanies of the First Cold Day” here

Herb Barrett (c1912-1995) was a poet who first published in the Hamilton Spectator in the 1930s, helped found the Canadian Poetry Association, and was a long-time poetry magazine editor.  The Haiku Foundation named The Herb Barrett Award after him.

The Buildings of the Dream by Cole McInerney

Electric Power Transmission Corridor. Photo by Cole McInerney

The Riall Heights Plaza was a refuge in all weather 

You come
through the door,
yelling about the Republican Party
and the pandemic response,
high on speed.
Magnifying the voices
of breathless men
who score the TV.
Winning in the poll,
losing as I leave.

Racing the sparkling,
champagne SUVs
which pour down the street.
Asking for a truce
once they take the lead.
Passing a string of houses
with front yard pesticides
and driveway gates.
The kid sleeping inside,
born with a royal name.

Settling at the commercial plaza
which shelters a bar,
campaign office,
and other businesses;
which end and begin to end again.
Beneath the desperate cover
of a patio umbrella,
I find a childhood friend.
just as the rain collapses
on the peeling parking lot.

We talk about holidays,
the pitcher pricing,
and attempting to forget
every lie we’ve told,
as we create the next.
The rain moves on
in a moment of disbelief.
Likely toward downtown.
Standing to walk home, he says
you better not fucking die.

Source: The author, 2021

Cole McInerney is a poet from Niagara Falls, Ontario. He studied English at Toronto Metropolitan University. Currently, he is a MFA student at the University of South Carolina, studying poetry. His poems have been published in several print and online publications, including Feral Poetry, White Wall Review, The Bookends Review, and Echolocation Magazine

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See all of Cole McInerney’s poems on the Niagara Falls Poetry Project website:

•     The Buildings of the Dream
•     Convenient Corner
•     Lake Erie
•     Russell Street