The Wonderful Leaps of Sam Patch by Anonymous

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

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

The Undertow by Sasha Steensen

A mountain of snow and Ice almost reaching the crest of the American Falls at Niagara Falls
Undated photo by Gisela Scholz.
Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

I am shown
a generosity

so muddied
at the muddy bottom

of a question I forget to ask
until it’s fished out

but bloated but
in the manner of a net

a web of causal connections
attached to its corners

gently moving over
the surface of the water

how come the road
couldn’t have stayed followed

by way of hollowed out
logs & paddles

made of pawpaw wood
rather than by the crows

alone to the moment
when the Monongahela

the Allegheny
the Ohio meet

I hate the underside
of an idea

but I like the underside
of grass that grows

and I’ve seen it from there

as if the water had suddenly

and then surged forth

from there
I can see a shoal

of tadpoles
drowning themselves

I hate the idea
of the Ohio

as a magic carpet
into the heart

of the continent
a great gift

of geography
a gleaming highway

carrying a tide
of settlement

and expansion but
I despise

the idea of the three rivers
as my family tree

their canals
tributaries & branches

& later the Mississippi

by its side
for miles

until along comes my
baby floating

in a basket down
the Colorado

I despise all such

and the fact that I’ve never
heard steamwhistles

or boatmen’s bugles
I’ve never traveled

aboard The Messenger
The Telegraph

The Gladiator
The Ohio Belle

or The Great Republic
nor have I put my foot

in the Ohio
anymore than you

and the Niagara
I abhor the Niagara

in winter the
difficult beauty

of its frozen falls
and all they’ve

come to represent.

Source: Steensen, Sasha, 2010, “The Undertow,” Academy of American Poet’s Daily Poetry Series,     

Also published in: Steensen, Sasha, 2014, House of Deer, Fence Books, 93.

View Sasha Steensen’s website


The Path by Myles Calvert

Morningstar Mill and Decew Falls
Photo by M.J. Thomas, licenced by Wikimedia Commons

The path is worn.
A scar scorched through the forest by an untold number of travelers.

The sky is gray.
What leaves remain on the trees are at rest.



Looking down, a pair of legs are moving forward but no steps are heard.
How long have they been walking?

Looking up, the path, with long snow kissed grass skirting the sides stretches on without end.

To the left an unseen cliff, to the right a spacious field filled with unremarkable flora.

The pace quickens to combat an incessant chill.

How much longer to go?

His legs ache. A glance backwards reveals nothing as the path melts away into black. The further he walks the more darkness gathers behind.

With eyes now forward on the perennial view, he feels a weakening resolve and for the first time, a shortening stride.

Ahead, a soft bend is revealed.

A new breeze arouses the leaves while the mute footsteps become perceptible.

Rounding the bend.

The once impenetrable clouds disperse to reveal a warming sun, a distinct tune from a bird and a flower in bloom.

Entranced by the surprising change he carelessly slows to a saunter while the bend hardens in front of him.

Warm turns to hot turns to blazing.

The song turns to noise turns to a cry.

The grass thickens and encroaches on the path with sharpened blades.

A wince.

As he shields his eyes from the light he kicks towards the intruding growth and launches into a blind run.

The color flushes away and the noise fades to a hum, to a dead calm.

Defeated, he opens his eyes and fixes them back on the straightened path.



Myles Calvert

Source: Myles Calvert, 2023. Written in May, 2021. 

The location of “the path” is heavily influenced by a hiking trail at Decew Falls / Morningstar Mill. As you walk along away from the waterfall there is a cliff on your left and at times an open field to your right.

Those who have walked it before may know it well and recognize the descriptions (although the waterfall is not mentioned in The Path).

Myles Calvert is the owner of  Tenpine Web Development and of Walk Niagara Tours, and can also be found on Facebook.


Map of Morningstar Mill / Decew Falls area in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Untitled by Anonymous as Reported by X.Y.

Niagara Falls From Goat Island, 1857
Print by Currier & Ives. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Niagara Falls are a wonderful scene,
Regularly calculated to make the mind serene ;
With their mighty dash and tremendous spray,
They roll and they roll, repeatedly every day !”


These Falls have never been congealed completely,
In this, weak men are agreed, neatly!

Source: X. Y. “Poetry of Young America.” The Massachusetts Teacher and Journal of Home and School Education 10, no. 2 (1857): 89–90.

The identity of X.Y. is unknown.

Justyce’s “I Am From” Poem by Hardi Patel

Cover of “Dear Martin” by Nic Stone, the book that inspired this poem

I am from
a bad neighborhood with just me and my mom
From learning to go right rather than wrong
I am from learning to trust even if their skin is white
From learning to fight with words for my rights

I am from playing video games with my best friend Manny 
From debating with SJ and going to Blake’s terrible parties
I am from being on and off with Melo 
And from me and Jared sharing only a small “hello”

I am from almost always listening to my Mama
And from getting caught up with Jared and Blake’s drama. 
From trying to make it to the top, even when Trey always feels the need to tell me, “Mr. Smarty Pants”, to stop

I am from always knowing I can go up to Doc
And from realizing showing compassion is just one drop
From realizing no matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to let those cold metal handcuffs fly
I am from learning Castillo’s dead, but it never mattered
From the cold metal cuffs still being felt by me in the shower

I am from understanding, there will always be jerks
And from learning it doesn’t matter and not to assume the worst
From late-night conversations with SJ when there’s no need to pretend
And from making mistakes I can learn from in the end

I am from asking Martin for some guidance 
And from not letting my voice rest in the silence 
I am from learning to say my words and fight with peace
From understanding my life isn’t missing a puzzle piece

I am from figuring out, they aren’t trying to be insensitive; based on where they came from, it just comes out. 
I am from learning to forgive just like Martin would
From making it clear that, “it’s aight we good”
I am from believing no one should be alone 
From everyone should have somewhere to call home

I am from finding out that compassion will win again and again, opinions aside  
I am from learning, just like Martin said, we should all be kind and look for what’s on the inside
I am from trying always to look at people and understand 
From trying to answer the big question, “are all men really created equal in the end?”

Source: Hardi Patel, 2023. First submitted as a student project in English class, and then published in the African American Registry, Fall 2022.  Also published on the I Am From website in 2022

Visit Nic Stone’s website

Read the article Niagara Falls teen’s poem tackling racism and stereotypes reaches global audience, by Paul Forsyth about this poem by Hardi Patel.

From Hardi Patel:

Hello everyone.

My name is Hardi Patel and I am the author of the “I Am From – Justyce’s Perspective” poem.

This poem is based on Nic Stone’s Dear Martin novel. I am a first-generation Canadian from India. I am currently a student at AN Myer Secondary School in Niagara Falls, Ontario. I am heading into Grade 11 this September; however, this poem was written by me when I was in Grade 9.

This poem began as a portion of my culminating assignment given to me by my Grade 9 teacher, Tina Chivers. My English class studied many writing pieces throughout the semester. Our novel was Dear Martin by Nic Stone. Throughout the semester, we studied the question, “Are all men created equal?”

For my course culminating assignment, I was given many media options and had to choose one to represent my understanding of Dear Martin. I chose the poem option. However, I was faced with a barrier: I didn’t know how to write another poem other than the “I Am From” poem. So, after looking at different poetry forms, I decided to write an “I Am From” poem. However, I wrote it from the perspective of the main character in the book, Justyce McAllister. The “I Am From” poem was something my Grade 9 class did at the beginning of the semester ( When I asked Mrs. Chivers what she thought of my idea, she said, “Amazing” and continued with, “That’s an awesome idea! I’m excited to see it!”

Dear Martin was impactful to my class, largely because the main characters in the book were the same age as we were. We could visualize ourselves in their shoes but felt thankful for a safe and accepting community. I found it easy to see these characters as your friends. Ms. Stone’s writing made it easy for me to understand Justyce’s intentions. I also understood how he felt about everything that was transpiring in his life. Although this is a fictional story, all details are relevant to modern life.

Through my poem, I attempted to convey Justyce’s thirst to be an excellent person even with all of the challenges he faced. I attempted to write about how Justyce didn’t change because of the negatives, but rather, he kept trying because of the positives. I wanted my poem to be a summary of the novel, and reinforce the main ideas of the book for Dear Martin’s readers.

This poem was never meant to reach a large audience.

I sent my poem to Ms. Stone, and she showed me lots of love. Mrs. Chivers encouraged me to send it to the “I Am From” project; I got a lot of appreciation from them as well. I’m thankful for these people. Julie Landsman, one of the women who run the I Am From Project reached out to me about adding my poem to the 2022 Fall issue of the African American Registry which is an initiative that she is also a part of. This offer elated me! Additionally, Mrs. Chivers contacted a local library (The Niagara Falls Public Library) and helped put my poem in their local writer’s section! After that, Paul Forsythe published an article in the Niagara This Week newspaper about my poetry. He interviewed Mrs. Chivers and me about how it came to be. As well, the mayor of Niagara Falls, Mayor Jim Diodati, sent me a handwritten note congratulating me on my achievements!

This has certainly been a memorable experience for me. This simple poem with a message I wrote has had an extraordinary impact on my life. I am extremely grateful for the support I have received from so many individuals. When I sent it to Ms. Stone and Ms. Landsman, I simply took a chance, and I received a great deal of support from them. This is an example of how positive results can be achieved if you try or take something a step further.