Archives for posts with tag: New York

licensed Mahmoud Masad
Tales of the Mohawk Valley
by Eleanor Lerman

The old are cities coming back to life again: Oneida, Utica,
            Syracuse, Ilion
Their motto of service and industry has replaced even the
extremes of upstate weather as the topic of conversation on
            everyone’s lips
Brickface has been repointed, geraniums snapped into
            new window boxes
and the papers have added food columns and sections on the arts
The spirit is municipal, the worship, Presbyterian, and everyone
is busy, busy—even prayer is jobbed out for a purpose
Keep the frost off the asparagus, the trout eager for
            the sportsman’s hook
In the summer, contented people fall asleep in Adirondack chairs
and their dreams are scented by valley crops and hilltop flowers

But in your mother’s house on Eller Street, with Canada
            in the window,
the wind sweeps in, already thinking about winter. This is
the Leatherstocking wind that closed the old factories, that
brings the headless horseman and blows the witches into the yard
            to steal our housecoats from the line
And in your mother’s house, progress has not reached us:
I sleep too much and you have managed to remain unemployed

Every afternoon, the pots and pans bang out their grief: who will
            make our stew?
Who will pour out the batter for our flapjacks? Every night
the house weeps and refuses to be sold. Every morning,
I try to make it to the store, and every street is like a bridge
            across a mill basin
and the mill wheel is turning and we are the labor of its years,
            the poor grist

So come. If the house will not join with the community, just
            lock the door and walk away
We can cross the Mohawk Valley while the seasons are
            still turning,
walk beneath the waterfalls, across great table of broken schist
to where the earth has cleaved open and peer into its iron heart,
            its silver veins
At the end of the valley there is a lake with a monster who lives
            in a deep, cold pool
That can be our destination: we can buy a guidebook and
            some chocolate
and picnic on the shore. Thus will we partake of the bounty
            of the state,
participate in its rejuvenation. We will blend in with the
tourists, be indistinguishable from people with money and
            plans and things to do

We will ride a boat that glides above the monster’s house and
speculate with strangers: How do you think he makes his living?
How has he survived so long, unknown, unseen, and free?

Originally published in Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds (Sarabande Books, 2005)

PHOTO: Aerial shot of the city of Utica, New York, by Mahmoud Masad, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I work in the early mornings. For the past 20 years, my office has been a purple couch and there is always a little dog sleeping next to me as I work. This poem is a remembrance of time I spent living in the Mohawk Valley in Upstate New York.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eleanor Lerman is the author of numerous award-winning collections of poetry, short stories, and novels. She is a National Book Award finalist, a recipient of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts for poetry and the New York Foundation for the Arts for fiction. In 2016, her novel, Radiomen (The Permanent Press), was awarded the John W. Campbell Prize for the Best Book of Science Fiction. In 2018, her novel, The Stargazer’s Embassy (Mayapple Press), received an American Fiction Award. Her most recent novel, Satellite Street (The Permanent Press, 2019) has been named a finalist for both the Montaigne Medal and the Eric Hoffer Award. Visit her at eleanorlerman.com.

PHOTO: The author sitting on the steps of The Limelight cafe in Chelsea, New York City.

licensed vitaly edush
A Memory Palace
by J.P. Slote

The impression is of a huge stone pile, a palace of white marble blocks stacked by a giant child from a race of giants. There are bigger buildings, taller atriums in this city, but inside the entrance hall of the New York Public Library’s Manhattan Main Branch on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, one is awed by the massiveness of the entire endeavor.

The eye is deceived—distance is skewed. Tiny little faces of people peer down from behind the stone railings of the stone balcony above; the ant-like proportions of people climbing up and down the massive stone stairs at the two ends of the stone chamber; the massive stone arches through which tiny modern people enter and exit. Escher’s impossible logic—simultaneously ascending and descending, coming and going—materializes for a surreal instant.

Other senses are affected. Sounds are both muffled and amplified—whirr of two archaic fans posted like tall sentinels on either side of the open entrance door (so mid-20th century). The ripeness of bright summer heat blowing in, unfiltered, from the city smells archaic in the vast, hushed, and darkened interior. The ear loses its bearings: echoes echo off stone—through the arches, around the pillars, down the staircases, along corridors seen and unseen.

The enormous hall puts one into an odd associative or dissociative state of mind. Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul. A line of poetry (“The Chambered Nautilus,” Oliver Wendell Holmes) floats to the surface of the mind, from a children’s book (The Diamond in the Window, Jane Langton) read long ago about a brother and sister trapped in a dream, in a seashell, by the ocean’s shore, who discover the doors to their many-chambered prison open as they recite lines of poetry. Ever-grander sentiments release them into ever-grander chambers—until they tumble out onto the sand just in time to escape the rising tide.

A mausoleum, a memory palace, built to hold, encompass interiority (thought, dream, memory, desire). The space is real, finite, concrete—but the dream is illusive and infinite.

PHOTO: New York Public Library, Main Branch, by Vitaly Edush, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A few years ago, I did a summer seminar at The Cullman Center Institute for Teachers, an enrichment program for New York city public school teachers of humanities. My cohort met every morning in The Cullman Center’s offices inside the New York Public Library’s Main Branch on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street to work with a Cullman Writing Fellow, reading and discussing a wide variety of creative nonfiction, and in turn writing pieces of our own. Our first assignment was to choose a location in the building and describe it fully. “A Memory Palace” is the result.

PHOTO: The author inside the New York Public Library, Main Branch.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J.P. Slote is a poet, actor, and educator. Co-founder of Loretta Auditorium, a collaboration of theatre artists, she is the author of Loretta Auditorium Presents The Body of Loretta, three plays on the pornography of power, free will on the free market, and arousal in the public realm, published by Fly by Night Press and soon to be available at www.tribes.org. A native New Yorker, She lives and works on the Lower East Side, the neighborhood of her immigrant grandparents, where she teaches literature and writing to a new generation of young adult immigrants.

Ron Chapple licensed
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.

chakraborty licensed

Framed by a Rainbow
by Ken Gierke

A thundering roar overwhelms the senses, and a refreshing mist on my face and arms brings relief from the heat of an August day. Niagara Falls is a wonder to behold, from the rapids leading to the edge, each crashing wave a character holding the briefest of poses for my camera, to the American Falls, that edge that tempts so many to know its height in their final moments, to the grand Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, best experienced from the Maid of the Mist as it pauses mid-river, drenching its passengers in a deluge of exhilaration that has no equal.

An afternoon could easily be spent here. The Observation Tower, like a bridge that seems to extend partway across the river, offers a view that includes the American Falls at its side and the Horseshoe Falls a half-mile upstream, taking its shape from a ninety-degree bend in the river. A walk across a bridge over the rapids takes me to Goat Island, which separates those two great falls, to the delight of Bridal Veil Falls at its near edge, separated from the American Falls by Luna Island, and then to a view of the horseshoe from Terrapin Point at its farthest edge.

Any visit, whether on a sunny or a gray day, could result in hundreds of photos. This beautiful day under blue skies is no exception, and the tourists recognize that. Some locals will avoid the Falls when those tourists number in the thousands, but I enjoy seeing the excitement on their faces. Some days, I take more photos of people taking photos of people. Niagara Falls offers so many reasons to return, again and again.

seagull on the wing
poised above the mighty falls
framed by a rainbow

PHOTO: Niagara Falls at sunset by Saptashaw Chakraborty, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Niagara Falls is a group of three waterfalls that span the border between the province of Ontario, Canada, and the state of New York.

Framed by a Rainbow

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Before moving from Western New York to Missouri in 2012, I never tired of going to Niagara Falls, sometimes visiting several times a month to take photos. The Falls are beautiful from both sides of the border, and I always plan a visit there when I travel that way.  Hopefully, COVID-19 will be just a memory and the border will reopen before my next visit.

PHOTO:  Rainbow and gulls at the American Falls by Ken Gierke.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ken Gierke started writing poetry in his forties, but found new focus when he retired. It also gave him new perspectives, which come out in his poetry, primarily in free verse and haiku. He has been published at Vita Brevis, Tuck Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, Amethyst Review, Eunoia Review, and his poem “Unwound” is featured in Pain & Renewal: A Poetry Anthology from Vita Brevis Press. His work can be found at his blog, where this poem first appeared.

PHOTO: The author and his wife during a recent visit to Niagara Falls, New York.

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, NY
Hall of Fame
by Steven Deutsch

We were not
a wayfaring
family.

My dad drove
a taxi nights
while mom worked days

at a discount store
downtown.
How is it

no one speaks
of the weariness
of the poor?

A six-block trip
to the local
chop suey joint

after a double
feature
was quite a night.

But the summer
I turned 12
dad announced

a vacation
to Cooperstown
at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

There was not
a boy in all
of Brownsville

that didn’t envy
me that trip.
And, yes I milked it.

The three of us made
a week of it.
meandering through

the back roads
of New England—
admiring all that green,

while my dad
spoke of Ty
and Babe—

Honus and Christy
and Walter as if
speaking of old friends

and my mom
told me of my grandfather—
a man I never got to meet.

And the Museum?
Well that was
wonderful too.

PHOTO: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, New York by Kenneth C. Zirkel, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I read the prompt, I thought immediately of our trip to Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.  I hope the poem captures the essence of that trip and of my parents. The details of the poem are not historically accurate—they never are in my work.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: After a glamorous childhood in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York, Steve (and his wife, Karen) settled in State College, Pennsylvania. They have one son—the guitarist for the avant-garde group, Gang Gang Dance. Over the last two years, his work has appeared in more than two dozen print and on-line journals. He was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is the current poetry editor for Centered Magazine. His chapbook, Perhaps You Can, was published by Kelsay Press in 2019. His full length poetry book, The Persistence of Memory, has just been published by Kelsay.

Wiley 1 Landmark
Visiting Mark Twain’s Grave in July
by Lisa Wiley

No epitaph, no jokes —
just your pen name centered and large,
legal name, birth and death dates
carved smaller above and below.
A little grass altar of pens poked

into the ground. A cigar,
Hard Rock Café Houston glass
stuffed with a dollar bill tip.
I won’t offer a formal prayer,
just bow my head as troubles

stream down like the mighty Mississippi.
Your smirking mustache
lifts my spirits as I deposit
a ballpoint in warm earth before
lighting out for the Territory.

PHOTO: Mark Twain’s grave in Woodlawn Cemetery, Elmira, New York, by Lisa Wiley.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: While my family and I traveled throughout Upstate New York in 2018, we saw signs for Mark Twain’s grave, and on a whim followed them.  I didn’t expect to be so moved.  My children are accustomed to visiting literary landmarks as a hazard of my occupation. My uncle’s recent small, pandemic funeral prompted me to remember this summer visit.  Like Twain’s graveside funeral, his service was also brief and simple.

PHOTO: The author and her children in front of the Mark Twain Study at Elmira College, where Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and other works while summering in Elmira, New York.  (Wiley family photo)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Wiley teaches creative writing at SUNY Erie Community College in Buffalo, New York.  She is the author of three chapbooks, including Chamber Music (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Her latest chapbook, Eat Cake for Breakfast, a tribute to Kate Spade, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press.  Her poetry has appeared in The Healing Muse, Journal of the American Medical Association, Mom Egg Review, Rockhurst Review, Silver Birch Press, and Third Wednesday among others. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

Roig_front door
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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Memory Pool
by James Penha

Billy Rose’s Aquacade where Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe, and Esther Williams dove into the ’39 New York World’s Fair gone now but not before my parents took a twelve-year-old me to Olsen & Johnson’s show Hellz-a-Splashin’ twenty years later after it was said Salk made public pools safe again from iron lungs though my mother had her doubts when my pal Eric invited me to Capri Beach Club in Atlantic Beach where his parents leased a cabana amidst the sounds of mah jong and “Gin!” by the pool I didn’t understand since the ocean was a walk away but no one from the Club ever set an umbrella in the sand Eric said since they were Jewish and I wondered if salt water was like pork and figured Capri was a Yiddish word and although the pool at Villa Roma where my Catholic family vacationed on the other side of the Catskill Mountains from the Borscht Belt made some sense since the sea was far away I could not fathom why it was shaped like a kidney and came to fear even more than polio or drowning that the owner-chef loved organs enough to fashion even the Bolognese from offal so I rarely swam or ate the pasta excusing myself to read in a chaise longue under a tree my summer book of Jane, Mr. Rochester, and Mrs. Grace Poole.

PHOTO: Atlantic Beach Club, 1950s (Atlantic Beach, New York).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Sometimes, the memory pool overflows with a stream of consciousness.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native New Yorker,James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. His essay “It’s Been a Long Time Coming” was featured in The New York Times “Modern Love” column in April 2016.  Penha edits TheNewVerse.News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Visit him on Twitter @JamesPenha.

AUTHOR PHOTO: The author, lately in Phuket, Thailand, still not swimming in a pool.

Christina M Rau reads The Gatsby Anthology

PHOTOGRAPH: Poet Christina M. Rau reading The Great Gatsby Anthology in a park that overlooks Long Island’s Manhasset Bay — the body of water Gatsby gazed across at Daisy’s green light. Her poem “Once Again, to Zelda” appears in the collection.  (Photo by Anthony Rau.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR ABOUT HER POEM: After years of reading The Great Gatsby over and again, and then teaching parts of it here and there, the underlined passages and marginalia have taken over my only copy, and I refuse to get a new one even though this one is pretty over- used and beaten up. That’s how I like my books. In thinking about honoring this book, my favorite for many reasons, I couldn’t find my own words to do it justice. And so, I pored through the pages, copying all the underlined passages. Then I found which lines worked the best with others. Then I focused on rhythm, squaring up quatrains in a neat sequence to retell the essence of Gatsby. The repetition of each strategically chosen quote builds a tone that should mimic the tone by the end of the novel.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christina M. Rau is the author of WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press,  2015)  and For The Girls, I (Dancing Girl Press 2014). She founded the reading circuit Poets In Nassau on Long Island, New York, and her poetry has recently appeared in The Main Street Rag and Till The Tides: An Anthology of Mermaid Poetry (Sundress Publications). She practices yoga occasionally and line dances on other occasions. (Photo by Kaeti Wigeland)

FIND THE AUTHOR AT:

Poets & Writers

 A Life Of We

Yoga, Write, Tea, Repeat

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Instagram 

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Ricky
by James Penha

In 1955, my family booked a week upstate at Villa Venezia. The owner-chef met us with his son, shirtless and skinny, black hair flopped across his left eye. Ricky was starting fourth grade. Like me. Each night, we strung our faces with pizza mozzarella or dumped markers off Bingo cards or recreated movie scenes, notoriously the surf-strewn lovers in From Here to Eternity. By day, arms wrapped around shoulders, we cut paths into the forest. When, after a week, I was packed into our Chevy, I hid in a book and cried silently all the way to the city line.

IMAGE: Vintage postcard of Middleton, New York (location of Villa Venezia), available at ebay.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This flash fiction is a severely-edited excerpt from a longer short story based on several Rickies important in my childhood.

Penha foto

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. Snakes and Angels, a collection of his adaptations of classic Indonesian folk tales, won the 2009 Cervena Barva Press fiction chapbook contest; No Bones to Carry, a volume of his poetry, earned the 2007 New Sins Press Editors’ Choice Award. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: Having moved and been moved so many times across continents and oceans, I have in my possession no photos of myself as a child. So here, on a recent holiday in South Sumatra, I tread the longest spring bridge I have ever crossed.