Archives for posts with tag: New York City

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Service
by Judy Kronenfeld

In the shoemaker’s shop
the chairs are empty.
It’s calm as a verandah
in summer, breathing out
into a corner of quiet air
near the high-rise mall
a concentrated perfume
of oil and dark polish.
From the recesses of the back
he comes, bringing my doctored shoes.
I am breathing the scent of stores
like gift packages, remembering nickels to spend,
remembering striped straws
from which I sucked violet
or pale green powders,
sugar daddies I worked
to a sharp point, wax bottles
filled with bright syrups
we shook into our throats.
The shoemaker smiles in apology,
sends me for change to the barber,
whose head lifts
at the tinkle of the bell,
and I am thinking steamed towels
waiting to soften beards,
the loose slap-slap
of lotioned hands
on slack jowls, even
the dreaminess of those long lulls,
the barber tipped back in his chair,
newspaper over his face
rising gently, and falling,
the shoemaker, legs propped,
examining his blackened fingers,
the rain stopped,
the air damp and balmy,
my father, arms slack on his aproned belly
what did I know? how could I know?
starting to smile as I approached.

Originally published in MSS 6, No. 3 (1989)

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo shows my dad inside the luncheonette. In his face, I see his intrinsic kindness, and also a little bit of melancholy.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: After years working as a cutter (of cloth) in a doll factory, and then, as the foreman of another doll factory, my father managed to buy a tiny “luncheonette,” also called a “candy store,” on Broadway and 27th Street in Manhattan, which he ran for some years. But my parents’ style of life still seemed working class. Usually, but not always with my mom, he rose at four a.m., six days a week, got ready, and drove from our three-room apartment in the Bronx to lower Manhattan, in order to stock the store and open it for the breakfast crowd (other petit bourgeois shopkeepers, factory workers, students at the Fashion Institute of Technology, etc.) wanting coffee and danish. Mom and Dad did all the arduous cleaning by themselves before closing or opening. Although I loved them very much, as a college student on half scholarship far away, half supported by their labor, I wasn’t necessarily appreciative enough of how hard their lives were, even though they were indeed working “for themselves,” and how few their luxuries. In the immigrant culture of my childhood, most parents worked hard so their children could do better. But the realities were in my heart, and my understanding deepened with my greater maturity, leaving me with a special sympathy for the lives of “owners” of such small, often “mom and pop” shops that provide some of the commodities or services we consider necessities, yet who work such long, hard hours, make no great profits, and have to worry whether they will be driven under.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Judy Kronenfeld is the author of four books of poetry and two chapbooks. Her most recent full-length collections are Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2017) and Shimmer (WordTech, 2012). Her fifth full-length collection, Groaning and Singing, will be published by FutureCycle Press in early 2022. Her poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, Connotation Press, New Ohio Review, Natural Bridge, One (Jacar Press), Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and other journals, and in over two dozen anthologies. She is Lecturer Emerita, Creative Writing Department, University of California, Riverside, and an Associate Editor of Poemeleon. Visit her at judykronenfeld.com.

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The Volunteer
by Suzanne O’Connell

I’m just fine except for the falling paper.
A curtain of scraps falls before my eyes.
An animated river,
A looping waterfall.

I didn’t mention the falling paper
to the nice lady
during my exit interview.
Nor the dark edges around my vision.
I didn’t mention the weight I’ve lost.
Or the sleeping issue,
waking every hour or so,
tangled and sweating.

But I’m fine.
The paper bits I see are small.
They’re not the full sheets
that covered the cars and the streets
of lower Manhattan
like tainted snow,
lifting with each breeze,
pulsing,
before settling back down.

One piece of paper said:
82nd floor, please help me.
I think it was addressed to me.
I found it on a parked Toyota
covered with white powder,
but I was too late to help.
I also couldn’t help the man who
tried to wash the dust out of his hair
when it turned to concrete.
Or the child who asked if there
is Jazzercize in heaven.
I couldn’t help the firefighter, who,
well I can’t go into it.
Or my coworker who was asked to leave
because she began to think she was
with the FBI.

Compared to them,
I’m fine.
Really,
if I can get the falling paper to stop,
I’ll be okay.

Originally published in Willow Review.

PHOTO: New York City skyline and  “Tribute in Light,” a public art installation by the Municipal Art Society of New York projected into the sky on September 11th each year, starting in 2002. Photo by Dibrova, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem because there were thousands of volunteers who worked after 9/11. Their hard work, often very traumatic, was frequently overlooked in press accounts. I had the great honor to be one of the mental health volunteers who worked at ground zero. When I worked on site, it was still considered a crime scene and we were instructed that anyone taking a photograph for any reason would be arrested.  Therefore, no photo of me included.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Suzanne O’Connell’s recently published work can be found in North American Review, Poet Lore, Paterson Literary Review, The Summerset Review, Good Works Review, and Pudding Magazine. She was awarded second place in the Poetry Super Highway poetry contest, 2019, and has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. She received Honorable Mention in the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize, 2019.  Her two poetry collections, A Prayer For Torn Stockings and What Luck, were published by Garden Oak Press. Visit her at suzanneoconnell-poet.net.

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Ground Zero Trauma
by Robert Hieger

I was there when the landmark was reduced to dust,
Flames shooting upward and outward from one tower,
Licking the darkened sky as I looked outside my window,
Witnessed twin flames erupting from its sibling.
The flutter of the heart, the bang of explosions—
All melded into one hyper-real flash of awakening.
A chorus of sirens growing in number, reaching crescendo,
Shot down southbound avenues, wailing mournfully.
Separated from my sister by a matter of 4-5 blocks,
I worried about her well-being, knowing not what to expect.
My cell phone rang (before they became useless that day).
My sister, suggesting we meet at a neighborhood coffee shop.
A short time later, we sat in disbelief, having breakfast,
Coping with knotted stomachs trying to take in food,
Watching the Twin Towers on television crumpling to the
Ground, over and over again, like fallen giants.
All those people…all those people tumbling down,
The growing smell of fire mingled with death,
Breathing in the dust of people…who knew how many?
The creeping sensation of fear, uncertainty, dread.
The Towers never really roused admiration in me.
Above and beyond the engineering genius, they were
Two dumb buckteeth at the foot of the island
Biting the sky with self-congratulatory contentment.
As the morning wore on, a caravan of fleeing survivors,
Clothed in dust and toxins from what was then Ground Zero,
Running north up southbound Second Avenue,
Washing the grime from their faces with bottled water.
Venturing outside the isolated shelter of my apartment,
I felt myself living an unsought and unwelcome adventure.
Poor air quality forced me to wear a face mask.
All this did was amplify the sensation of breathing in toxins.
In the days and weeks to come, realities of a war zone set in.
I lived a few blocks north of my sister, but these became miles.
I was above Houston, she below a couple of blocks. Police barricades
Barred the passage, and she was required to identify me.
On Wall Street tanks guarded all entry points.
National Guard patrolled the palaces of money day and night.
The Stock Market ground to a halt and contemplated oblivion,
Investors banned for a time from their domain.
I aimlessly wandered the streets of my neighborhood, trying to get a
Grip on reality, running into friends doing the same, also encountering
People who I did not know at all, asking kindly how I was and
Offering me bottled water from an ice chest under their tables.

For many weeks, sleep was an estranged companion to me.
Even coping with fear did not eliminate the feeling of isolation.
Inconsolable malaise became my nightly companion,
The one saving grace my beloved cat, Lazuli, who consoled me.

Gradually Lower Manhattan, a shadow of its former self,
Hoisted itself painfully to its feet and began to walk again.
I followed suit, even venturing to survey Ground Zero, watching
Countless trucks carting away tremendous mounds of debris.

I could never get closer than two or three blocks away,
But even this distance revealed the nightmare in full color.
Still some of the smell of fire lingered in the rubble.
Gradually (nine months) Ground Zero became a construction site.
First came a temporary train station for the PATH trains into New Jersey,
After many months of haggling, the slowly forming foundation of WTC 1, then
The new Calatrava WTC Transportation Hub, finally the Memorial Museum,
A contentious reimagining of the site viewed by many as a burial ground.
More than 13 years passed before the mainstays of the complex became a new
Landmark, sprouting fledgling structures, some of which are still not complete.
The new WTC 1 is more compelling than its fallen predecessors, more imaginative,
Yet I still feel a stubborn pride, perhaps hubris that drove the new tower into the sky.
I visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum some months after it officially opened.
Though the steep ticket price angered me, I was pleasantly surprised
With a multifaceted and balanced representation of all views and feelings
About the events of that tragic broken landmark become burial ground.
We have a new and growing landmark nearing completion, yet riddled
With conflicting opinion of how the site should be completed.
Functioning, yet functioning, this site mirrors my inner unrest, is my
Analog of cognitive dissonance with which I wrestle daily.
I still often have trouble sleeping at night. I don’t fear terrorists. I fear
Malignant and one-sided vengeful thought that started September 12, 2001,
And hasn’t yet subsided. I fear hate we turn inward against ourselves. And I fear
That the hidden threat lies dormant on our own shores, among our own people.

PHOTO: 911 Memorial Fountain in the World Trade Center site, New York City, by Brett Critchley, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The World Trade Center in New York City has always been a major landmark. In the wake of these massive buildings, and all for which they stood, a myriad of personal stories arise. Families of survivors whose grief can never be quelled, and whose questions might never be answered, have a compelling personal narrative. Almost anyone living in New York City at the time knew someone or had a friend who knew someone who perished in the original Twin Towers. My own narrative was and still is profoundly influenced by both the original landmark and the current-day World Trade Center complex. The arc of the story between the destruction of the old and the near completion of the new World Trade Center site mirrored an evolving narrative for me—one originating in shell shock and evolving to one of introspection.

PHOTO: 9/11 Memorial Museum, New York City., showing a support beam from the World Trade Center signed by first responders and others. Photo by Wisconsin Art, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Hieger has been involved in the performing arts since childhood. He continues to perform in New York theatrical venues with DADAnewyork and the Wycherly Systers. He has toured with The Living Theatre, though not so much during these masked days. In 2011, he graduated Summa cum Laude from the CUNY BA program as a Thomas W. Smith Fellow, with a concentration in Integrated Web Applications and Design. In 2017, he earned an MS in Integrated Digital Media from NYU Tandon School of Engineering. He maintains a blog of his poetry at logosdifferentia.com. A contributor to Maintenant, a Journal of Contemporary DADA Writing and Art, he posts frequently on quora.com. Selected academic writings including his Masters Thesis, IntuCogita: Creating an Online Alternative to Deeply Entrenched Competitive Learning Models, which may be found at roberthieger.academia.edu/research#papers.

Author photo by Lori Styler. 

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Stonewall Inn, June 27, 1999
by Andrew Jeter

It took me a long path
to get there—
sitting on a bar stool
clouded with the mildewy
haze of spilled opportunities
and lost drinks,
pulling at a watery beer
as midday’s sun hunkered
over revelers on the street,
cauterizing all the dark
that once protected us
from the greedy eyes
of men in blue
who pushed until
we said,
“Enough.”

Although I rarely feel it
anymore, that day with
the bad beer and
daytime pilgrimage
to the nighttime place
nerved my skin like the first time
I told someone,
“I’m me.”

PHOTO: Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher Street, New York City by Diana Davies (courtesy of the New York Public Library).

EDITOR’S NOTE:
The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGBT community in response to a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Patrons of the Stonewall Inn, as well as other lesbian and gay bars, along with neighborhood street people, fought back when the raid turned violent. The riots are considered a critical event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States. Pride Month takes place in June to commemorate Stonewall. (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Being stuck at home means I’ve spent a lot of time traveling in my memories. This Pride Month reminded me of another June when I was made mindful that Pride isn’t just about parades and flags, but about our journeys and destinations.

PHOTO: The author during his travels.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrew Jeter has taught high school writing and film for 17 years and holds a BA in English and Creative Writing, a Masters in English Education, and a PhD in English Composition & Applied Linguistics. He has lived on four continents with five dogs and one husband and currently splits his time between Chicago, Illinois, and Saugatuck, Michigan. Visit him at andrewjeter.org.

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American Landmark
by Howard Richard Debs

In 1995, celebrating 30 years together
we went, my wife and I, to New York
New York to visit the Big Apple.
It was a splurge. We stayed
at the posh Peninsula Hotel,
once called The Gotham built in 1905;
upgraded to a deluxe suite
on high, I can’t remember why
we looked out a window
then impressed by much,
we saw Trump Tower right nearby.
We took in the sights, the Met,
a carriage ride in Central Park,
the Carnegie Deli a now closed classic,
serving insults and mile-high corned beef
since 1937. We hit The Great White Way:
Smokey Joe’s Café music by Leiber
and Stoller; the Tony winner too, Crazy
for You, based On Gershwin tunes from
Girl Crazy, their show of 1930,
American songbook all.
Then to the Lower East Side, the
Tenement Museum, where walls
reverberate with immigrant
voices yearning. We took the
ferry from Castle Clinton at
Battery Park where Grandpa Ben
in 1886 arrived, Ellis Island not till 1892
a point from which to disembark.
Once there, we walked back
in history—12 million passed through
before us in search of their dream.
They first were sent to the baggage
room then down a staircase, watchful
eyes upon them, into the Great Hall
for inspection and examination
to be cleared or detained; the gateway
to the golden door shut and abandoned
in 1954, a developer bid to make it a resort
rescued in August of 1965 by President
Lyndon Johnson’s pen I’ll not forget,
that good thing happened when
my wife and I were wed.

PHOTO: Aerial view of Ellis Island with the Statue of Liberty in the background, New York City, by Ron Chapple, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My paternal grandfather, Benjamin Debs was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1884 to Charles and Yetta (nee Markuza) Dobrowitz. Arriving in America at the tender age of two after a brief stay in New York his family moved to Chicago. Among a number of successful enterprises through the years, he established a millinery manufacturing business in the Maxwell Street area, Chicago’s equivalent to the Lower East Side. He is a shining example of the immigrants to America who raised themselves up from poverty through perseverance and hard work. It was a privilege to have his name added to the Ellis Island American Immigrant Wall of Honor.

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AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My wife, Sheila (foreground, right), pictured in the Great Hall at Ellis Island during our visit to New York City in 1995. To me in this picture she seems to be pondering what it must have been like.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard Richard Debs is a recipient of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. His essays, fiction, and poetry appear internationally in numerous publications. His photography is featured in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. His book Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words (Scarlet Leaf Publishing), is the recipient of a 2017 Best Book Award and 2018 Book Excellence Award. He is co-editor of New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, forthcoming later in 2020 from Vallentine Mitchell of London, publisher of the first English language edition of the diary of Anne Frank. He is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory.

Yankee Stadium in New York
Yankee Stadium
by Patrick T. Reardon

Look! There, at first base, that’s
me, leaping right full-length to nab
a flaming, screeching liner from the
brawn bat of Willie McCovey — in
my dreams — following Saint Lou
Gehrig, still ox strong until, at 37,
martyred to robber disease, luckiest
man at foreign microphone, here
near first base bag but far distant,
baseball tragedy, wasted away,
weak who had been so powered,
smiling and glee-ed behind his thick
New York accent, high voice, broad
continent of back, naked to the
heat in the slo-mo newsreel shot
of a sun-bake batting practice, a
.340 hitter, MVP, good guy, goofy
in the cowboy one-reeler, playing
himself and stopping the bad-guy
bar-fight by throwing pool balls at
them, giggling, knocking sense into
them, as America was going to have
to knock sense into the Nazis — too
late for millions, world of tragedies —
in the war that started after he was
gone, hugged by the Babe who lived
a decade longer, gaunt at the end,
who had been so beefy over dainty
feet, leaning on a bat here, pained
in painful loose uniform, who had
been Falstaff to Lou’s straight man,
hot-dog-eater to Lou’s rare steak
and mashed potatoes, hot dog to
Lou’s altar boy, as I was, amid the
church gold and echo chants, alien
incense and soaring arches, heaven
-like, who hit .111 in Little League,
talentless on the diamond except
for Major League yearning to follow
Lou with my first baseman’s glove
which, still, I take to the Stadium
(original and new) every time I go,
who will never play first base for
the Yankees, will never nab a
ballistic liner off anyone’s bat
but, wherever here, will wear
Lou’s gleam-white pinstriped home
jersey, 4. Look! There I am.

PHOTO:  Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York City, NY, October 2019 by Gabriel Murad, used by permission. Opened in 2009, the stadium replaced the original Yankee Stadium, which operated from 1923-2008.

GehrigLou NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have many stories about how I — a Chicagoan who loves Chicago and has lived here all my life — fell in love with the Yankees and remain in love.  The deepest reason is Lou Gehrig.

PHOTO: Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) was a first baseman with the New York Yankees for 17 seasons, from 1923-1939.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Baseball great Lou Gehrig was renowned for his prowess as a hitter and for his durability, which earned him the nickname “The Iron Horse.” In 1939, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and was the first MLB player to have his uniform number (4) retired by a team. In mid-1939 be was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable neuromuscular illness now commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” The disease forced him to retire at age 36, and was the cause of his death two years later. The pathos of his farewell from baseball was capped off by his iconic 1939 “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech at Yankee Stadium. (Source: Wikipedia)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Patrick T. Reardon is the author of eight books, including the poetry collection Requiem for David and Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious analysis of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence. His poetry has appeared inSilver Birch Press, San Antonio Review, Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Ground Fresh Thursday, Literary Orphans, Rhino, Spank the Carp, Main Street Rag, The Write Launch, Meat for Tea, Tipton Poetry Journal, UCity Review, Under a Warm Green Linden, andThe Write City. Reardon, who worked as a Chicago Tribune reporter for 32 years, has published essays and book reviews widely in such publications as the Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, National Catholic Reporter, and U.S. Catholic. His novella Babe was short-listed by Stewart O’Nan for the annual Faulkner-Wisdom Contest. His latest book, The Loop: The “L” Tracks that Shaped and Saved Chicago, will be released on November 26, 2020, and is available for preorder. His Pump Don’t Work blog can be found at patricktreardon.com.

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Liberty Quarantined
–virtual tour, May 2020
by Marjorie Maddox

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PHOTO: “Statue of Liberty,” Liberty Island, New York Harbor, New York City, NY by Jeff Burak on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Because I’ve only seen the Statue of Liberty from the outside, this story at CBS News inspired “Liberty Quarantined.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Winner of the 2019 Foley Poetry Prize and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist)Local News from Someplace ElsePerpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); four children’s and YA books—including  Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises and A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in PoetryI’m Feeling Blue, Too!Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor); and 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Her book Begin with a Question is forthcoming from Paraclete Press in Spring 2021. For more about her work, visit marjoriemaddox.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde), a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and its metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886. (Source: Wikipedia.)

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9 ways of viewing the Brooklyn Bridge
by Joan McNerney

1
from far away as if
a child drew 2 bright
triangles in the sky

2
empty newspaper truck
rattling over violet bridge

3
rain sweeps through giant
silver spider web

4
obscured by N train
its metal doors reflect freight
boats and painted containers

5
tipping from side to side
listening to loose tracks

6
passengers huddled in tight circles
woolen gloves around steel pole

7
1 square of sunset
in the sticky window

8
orange ball bounces beside
bridge…slides into blue water
white waves

9
black sky black sea
yellow moon climbs
over buildings
3 foghorns

PHOTO: “The Brooklyn Bridge” found at Pixabay, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am originally from Brooklyn, and always loved the Brooklyn Bridge. I could glimpse it riding the subway to work each day.  It was the first bridge to span its way to Manhattan and has a remarkable history. When it was finished, the entire city celebrated, because we know how New Yorkers love to party. Lastly, kudos to Wallace Stevens and his wonderful inspiration for this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines, such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days, as well as in four Bright Hills Press anthologies, several editions of the  Poppy Road Review, and numerous Spectrum Publications.  Her latest title, The Muse In Miniature, is available on Amazon.com and Cyberwit.net.  She has four Best of the Net nominations.

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Thresholds
by Kerfe Roig

I have known
so many doorways–
ideas
of home–so
many entrances always
followed by exits,
portals to
moving on. They say
each door is
renewal,
a fresh start, but I long for
extended middles,
openings
that tell me to stay.
Here I am,
sequestered
still behind one of hundreds
of plain white metal
rectangles
along corridors
guarded by
multiple
locks. The world comes in through my
window—subways, sea
gulls calling
and Venus and the
moon fading
into dawn.
The playground below listens:
abandoned, forlorn.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Having just moved (again), the familiarity of my world has been entirely upended.  I feel lucky that I am able to turn to creating words and images to ease the unknowns of my enforced solitude.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kerfe Roig currently lives behind the door of her thirteenth residence since arriving in New York City at age 19.  She hopes to move one final time, a goal currently derailed by the uncertainty of the times.  She likes to play with words and images and sends them out to the world at kblog.blog.

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We asked the 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) to send photos featuring the book in their home environments. Author Anne Borne provided this portrait of herself and the collection from the ever-wonderful New York City. Anne contributed the story “It’s Not the Books, It’s the Library” (featured below)  to the 212-page anthology.

It’s Not the Books, It’s the Library
by Anne Born

It’s easy to identify the Nancy Drew and Dana Girls mysteries as my favorite children’s adventure stories. When I read those little books, I wanted to be the one with the answer, the one to solve the crime, the one to show the grownups that this teen could do it. These girls were resourceful and clever. What’s interesting to me now is that, for the life of me, I cannot recall a single episode, and I couldn’t name more than one title. I do not remember just exactly what these plucky heroines accomplished. What I do remember is my cousin Diane.

Diane was much older than me. She was a child of the 1940s whose father served in WWII. She spent countless hours with my grandparents and her aunt and uncle, laying a foundation of trust and love for all of the cousins to follow. We all knew that we were important, and we knew that our family had something special—and a good bit of that came from the first cousin on the scene: Diane.

I came to know Nancy Drew because Diane collected the books. As far as I can remember, it was a complete set. I could borrow them, read them one at a time or a couple at a go, and return them to her collection. But it was never about the plot of the books, it was that Diane could read and when she did, she did it up in style. I could take books out of the town public library certainly, and I did that nearly every week I was in school. But Diane had a library and that was exciting to me.

Because my family did not have a budget line for book buying or the means to get to bookstores very often, and because I spent so much time at the library, I have only a dozen or so books from my childhood. I do not have all the great pirate books that I loved. I don’t have the stories of Pompeii that I remember so clearly. And I don’t have the Nancy Drew books. I vowed that when I had my own children, I would buy them books instead of just taking them to the library. I wanted them to know what Diane must have known, that there is tremendous comfort in being in a library, but there is something so much more powerful in owning a library.

Diane left us a few years ago. She had a heart ailment that would take her from us way too soon. In writing this, I am sad she doesn’t know the lifelong impact her choice in teen fiction had on me. I want her to know that her collecting Nancy Drew and Dana Girl mysteries, and sharing them the way she did, instilled in me a love of libraries as well as a love of a great mystery story. My library has books about everything!

I’m reading my own copy of The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey now with my book club and even though it does not feature a boyfriend with a slick convertible or helpful aunts and uncles, it does remind me of the debt I owe to my cousin Diane. It’s great to have a library card, but it’s even better to have a library.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Born is the author of A Marshmallow on the Bus (2014), Prayer Beads on the Train (2015), and Waiting on a Platform (2016). She is the editor of the award-winning anthology of stories from The Late Orphan Project —  These Winter Months.  (2016). Anne is a regular contributor on The Broad Side, and her essay on Hillary Clinton’s religious faith was included in Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox  (2015), edited by Joanne Bamberger. Her work has been published in the Newtown Literary Journal and in “Me, as a Child,” “All About My Name,” and “My Prized Possession,” Poetry & Prose Series published by Silver Birch Press. Anne’s essay on her cousin’s collection of Nancy Drew novels was published in the Silver Birch Press Nancy Drew Anthology (2016). Her poetry has been featured in New York at Boundless Tales, Word Up Community Bookstore, and the Queens Council on the Arts. She has been a featured performer in several venues with Inspired Word NYC, at the New York Transit Museum, on Queens Public TV in “The World of Arts,” and with the International Women’s Salon on Salon Radio. Anne divides her time between New York and Michigan, and the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Follow Anne Born and The Late Orphan Project at The Backpack Press, and on TwitterRedbubbleWattpad, andInstagram @nilesite. Listen to her in the Bronx podcasts on Our Salon Radio.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is me at the subway station in my neighborhood, the beautiful South Bronx. Snapped by a girl walking by who saw me balancing my cell phone and the book. She says, “Wow! I love Nancy Drew!” So I gave her the book.