I reach for trusted pen and paper
and commit to writing like old days
When I’d feel the thump of winter boots
and remember youthful school snow days
I keep it tightly inside me like
a favorite song I used to know
I bring a little Niagara
with my top down in San Diego
The west will drive poorly, close their schools
in February droplets of rain
while Buffalo kids wear shorts when the
thermometer hits 30 again
When I eat my kale and quinoa I
ask for Buffalo sauce as I go
I take home some Niagara
eating my way through San Diego
The grocery clerk looks like my aunt
except she wears a golden sun tan
I introduced her to Mexican
when we got lunch from a taco stand
I’d trade this Ralph’s for Wegman’s, give up
eternal sun for a touch of snow
Share Niagara melancholy
with the models in San Diego
A robin in winter-spring backyard
versus a sea lion on the pier
From apple cider Octobers
to grand palm trees, how do you compare?
Somedays I miss a chill that needs a
grandmotherly knitted homemade throw
Somedays I want Niagara cold
to keep me warm in San Diego
‘America’s Finest City’ hopes
it could become a little bit lost
In potholes and in yesterdays
and storied scars that tell of the cost
It could be a crumbling beauty
where family memories could grow
My cataract Niagara world
would keep me glad in San Diego
I bring a little Niagara
to picture perfect San Diego
Author’s note: This is heavily inspired by a song. It’s also something I truly identify with, coming from Niagara Falls and living and loving East coast a lot, to moving, semi officially, to San Diego.
Lots to note from this: I wrote with with pen and paper to start and that’s how the poem begins. Ralph’s is a West coast grocery store, Wegman’s is in the Northeast. Niagara Falls are called cataracts and San Diego’s nickname is America’s Finest city. Buffalo is a neighboring city to Niagara Falls. And finally, my aunt came to visit me and had Mexican for the first time in this taco stand in a gas station (that was well regarded and she loved).
Nor similes nor metaphors avail!
All imagery vanishes, device
Dies in thy presence, wondrous dream of ice!
Ice-bound I stand, my face is pinched and pale,
Before such awful majesty I fail,
Sink low on this snow-lichened slab of gneiss,
Shut out the gleaming mass that can entice,
Enchain, enchant, but in whose light I quail.
While I from under frozen lashes peer,
My thoughts fly back to take a homeward course.
How dear to dwell in sweet placidity,
Instead of these colossal crystals, see
The slender icicles of some fairy “force,”
And break the film upon an English mere!
Source: Professor Gregory Betts, Brock University, Department of English. First published 1891.