MAJESTIC river, full of awe and wonder,
Roll onward in thy might, and roar like thunder ;
Bring from the upper lakes where the waters nap,
Thy burthens to this brink, and let ‘ em drap.
Roll onward in thy wrath, and foam and spatter ;
My bark is on dry land—that’s what’s the matter.
To pay for all this splurge, there’s a Lincoln cent,
I’ve dropped it in thy surge—so let it went !
If more thou still demand, there’s a Canada copper,
Large as a full-blown moon-put that in your hopper !
Methinks I feel a bug, and hear him hum ;
‘Tis only the “Maid of the Mist,” for passengers come.
I’ve climbed the weary stairs, the steps I’ve counted,
But wish now by the cars and ropes I’d mounted.
My coat is wet with spray, but my throat is dry ;
This scene is grand, they say, but it’s all in their eye.
I’ve heard of thee, Niagara, and now I’ve found thee ;
But sorry thou dost keep such robbers round thee.
The Yankees stole my purse, John Bull my hat,
And my last disputed stamp I paid to Pat.
So now I’ve nothing left, as I’m a sinner,
To recompense “mine host” for his dollar dinner.
But hold ! I have it now—there goes the bell !
I’ll sell my ode, I vow ! Old stream, farewell !
Should e’er we meet again, with case inverted,
I, tumbling toward the main, thou, dry and deserted,
I’ll wet thy husky throat till thou feelest staggery,
And I’ll sprinkle well thy coat. Farewell, Niagara !
Should e’er we meet again this side the ocean,
I’ll sing in loftier strain my deep devotion ;
I’ll praise thy gorgeous bow till my voice shall quiver.
But the steam is up—we go. Good-by, old river !
Good-by ! the echoes die with the cataract thunder,
While away like the wind we fly to a western wonder,
Where objects meet the sight too marvelous to tell,
Where cities grow up in a night. Fogies, farewell !
For the golden land I’m bound, where the trees reach heaven,
With trunks four miles around—diameter seven ;
Where grapes like pumpkins grow in every dell,
Where corn needs plow nor hoe. Reader, farewell !
And when I’ve reached the shore by the “Great Pacific,”
I’ll carve on the depot door this hieroglyphic ;
A sleeping car, marked “through,” ‘neath a huge balloon,
Myself among the crew, labeled, “the moon.”
Source: L.V. Hall. Voices of Nature. New York: John A. Gray & Green, Printers, 1868.
In his Anthology and Bibliography of Niagara Falls, Charles Mason Dow writes “The author of this poem was blind. The “Ode” is evidently intended to be humorous, but the humor consists largely in slang and bad grammar.
My nayburz and I lived a block from Clifton Hill you know that street that employs us in the summer but throws us to the curb in the winter unless you fall to your knees in the fall In front of your boss when no one else is looking
You don’t get a break if you want to earn a living… In the city of repurposed broken guitar strings, that held up our forgotten dreams
Across the street from Mom and I Was a house That made labatt blue a little more well off When the Street lights came on You couldn’t tell the difference between Them yelling at the hockey game or Their mouthy sugar stained children… that coated the streets with unwanted frequencies Two older brothers main concerns were to get laid They modeled themselves after the noise in the living room Kraft dinner was for royalty and so was kool-aid
Apparently, pillow fights were for pussies… So it was five minutes of roughing every drunken period but no roll-call model parents to call a real penalty. No name food products dominated the space, there was no room for anything natural or healthy
Headphones were too expensive So I learned how to enjoy the fireworks without seeing them Stuck between two broken homes across from each other Both Mothers are Newfoundlanders, don’t talk to each other much And our doors are locked at night if that shatters any stereotypes!
It’s hard out here for us Honeymoon Capital survivors Trying to live in the Unemployment Wonder of the World Vacancy for welfare checks in the off season Doctors are not accepting any new patients We carry our laundry to the mat, say hello to the owners parrot and we welcome the tourists who try to run over our cats (Meows gather at the 7-11’s)
There is a fine line that separates yelling from screaming when you’re close to that Clifton Hill Because you’re either just a haunted house employee practicing their creepshow Or just another tourist looking for their attraction coupons in a overpriced parking lot
The house across the street Had a friend of the family Who delivered my favorite thing in the world… PIZZA! Plain and simple, hands down, unlike the life I live
If I ordered and asked for him to deliver it I would get a decent discount every time It was great for a while Then i thought about delivering pizza myself… Since I got my beginners licence recently He was more than happy to offer me an opportunity to make some money And said my tips were twice as good as his. So since he never lost anything sharing his deliveries, I was welcome anytime to his orders, and help him out
I was in high school Grade 11, 16 years old Taking university level courses to be eligible for potential golf scholarships I hadn’t won any tournaments yet but my handicap was just a handful It would get better if I didn’t have to work next summer and had my own set of wheels (Ford Topaz foreshadow)
Getting back home from school a little late was normal Golf and Graphic Design was my usual excuse Mom was often passed out on the couch, Budweiser in hand
It was the billboard I memorized To keep a promise.. That I wouldn’t take the same courses as my mother “I may be a bad example, but you must not ever give up”, she said.
But there was this one time I broke our promise…
Out of the similar fear my mom had when she lost her house keys, and sat on some church steps to regain her strength, to sober up It evolved into a vulnerable coffee date with a stranger offering friendship Which turned into a late sunday drive behind a warehouse for some rape All she wanted was a real ear in a city of lights, but there was none, just lights that shined so bright you couldn’t see danger coming or hear it…from the fake house of fun. The idea to be crying for help behind a candle factory, was just a wax mold and a trigger for thoughts of a single grandson kept the fear instilled to not fight back, pretending it was a good time like the floors she swept. It was the people she worked for, just not this one.
The difference between Broom Hilda’s House of Horrors and mine, Was that I hadn’t lost anything but my father and a chance to know him better than old union meeting minutes at this point.
I just wanted to earn a living delivering pizza So I could buy myself groceries and Mother a decent christmas present.
My Moms rapist was just like mine in some ways…
When they pulled out Onto the road After they got what they wanted… They did it nice and slow Because they didn’t want to be suspicious
They asked us if we wanted anything from the store Because they were so thoughtful of our hunger and thirst
They both decided to drive the speed limit Because they didn’t want to break the law
They asked us to hang out again sometime Maybe eat some pizza or go for a drink at their place Because they wanted us to feel normal
They gave us stories about who they were Who they knew Because they didn’t want anyone else to know Just how special we are to have met them
They tried to get away!!!
But my mom was killer at memorizing licence plates and fake names And I am killer at remembering that my reflective words are better than my experience I choose not to live in fear Of you hearing this comeback someday Because I will come back someday Maybe even just go in myself for a walk-in special Slam this poem to your bosses face The customers can judge your sorry ass Right before the video gets submitted Into film festivals worldwide You may or may not have recorded my friends like you said you did, and offered for me to listen about how they bragged about fucking you without a condom. I don’t really care to know anymore, especially those scary people you said you knew in case I got any ideas… Because I just fucked you without a condom And I didn’t even have to touch you.
Have fun, you’re so fucked now Your dick is a just a lonely pepperoni flick after a game is lost in this Italian click-fest of a town. Sitting against the boards of corporate sponsors and beer my mother and most Uncles drink. Ready to be eaten by the zamboni that hates your limited edition discarded kind. In between periods of rage, I hit white balls over 300 yards into the wind of my justice system, and sometimes I just leave them there for juniors that haven’t met you yet.
Fucked up how things work out, you see there is this old testament bible that my stepfather used to carry around with him. Once he passed away, I found the court docket that spells my mother’s rapists name on it. I got this information after my step-dad had passed while going through his things, in preparation for his funeral. It was hidden from me, this information, because it’s the name of the person that stripped my mom of all her self worth. She gave up, broke her promise, then died from it. Her brain aneurysm was the reason I won 7 golf tournaments the following year, but also the reason every christmas will never be the same, and neither will you when you see your name, printed inside the chapbooks that scream my name.