1. Annie Edson Taylor (1901)
Don’t hate me because I sent the cat first.
Darling, desperate times require—
well, they require.
I told the little girl who owned the cat
I’d buy her a new one.
Days of waiting for a coin
of mention in the newspaper.
Days of waiting for wind—
for a sign, a purple swallow
circling the falls in a figure eight.
Draw me a line of three corks
and three holes so I can breathe in the barrel.
I thought I’d have all the floppy feathered hats
a gal could hope for.
No one seems to realize I am a star,
the original Queen of the Mist.
Tell me: What does a soul
look like after you dash
a plump cat to smithereens?
All I have are beat-down tap shoes
(someone even stole my barrel!),
a feather, a snip of string.
But look at the elegant line
of the arch of my foot, my boot,
how each hoop in my skirt
sings when I walk.
Isn’t that a picture?
Surely that’s worth a picture.
2. Charles G. Stevens, the Demon Barber of Bedminster (1920)
The right arm:
to be found.
It even waved
3. Steve Trotter (1985, 1995)
At age twenty-two, the youngest person to go over the falls successfully, and twice
In Tallahassee, you learn to make the drinks
real sweet. Sweet drinks equals sweet skirts
to wait for you long after the bar closes. At the base,
there are boulders— smoothed by years of drumming
water. And somehow, you missed every single one.
You’ve got a charmed life, a deer-bone amulet,
and star-spangled shorts to cheer you on both trips.
But even you know your boundaries. There’s a limit to
how much you are able to ridicule her. Venus flytraps
snap shut when the trigger hairs are touched not once, but
are tapped exactly twice. Look at your life: It can count.
Two is good, just enough, for you.