Archives for posts with tag: New York

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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.


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.


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)


Poets & Writers

 A Life Of We

Yoga, Write, Tea, Repeat






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

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.

In Another Fish Tank
by Thomas O’Connell

Wherever I reside,
I am always in love
With the next
Town over, Coveting
My neighbor’s chamber
Of commerce. I eat

At the luncheonettes and
Frequent the barber
Shops, longing
For charging privileges
At the public library.

I buy squash
And local honey at
Their farmer’s market
And forgive them
The sulfuric stench emitted
From the match company.

When a storm puts their
Main Street two feet
Under water, I only
Feel compassion.
I don’t have to think

About getting my car
To higher ground and
Am free to worry: What
Will become of the windmill
At the miniature
Golf course?

SOURCE: Originally published in the (unfortunately now defunct) literary journal Gator Springs Gazette, issue 4/2005.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There is a little bit of “grass is always greener . . . ” to this poem, but the other element that I wanted to convey is the connectedness of localities. So, even though it is not about the town I live in, it is about the links that allow communities to exist. I guess no island is an island either, and towns flourish in a sense of cross fertilization that feeds each town and its inhabitants.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Beacon, New York” by Mahopa.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas O’Connell is a librarian living on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, New York, where he happens to be the 2015-2016 poet laureate. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in Elm Leaves Journal, Caketrain, NANO Fiction, The Broken Plate, and The Los Angeles Review, as well as other print and online journals.

Before Darkness Comes
by M.J.Iuppa

After a day of rain, of sleep-walking room
to room, wondering what else can be made
with the last peck of pickles, twilight arrives

candling the sky with streaks of indigo
and deep pink— an invitation to step
outside before it’s too late . . .

Who can resist distraction?

And so we go to the lake to walk
along its rain-dimpled beach that holds
Ontario’s stillness within its margins.

Only intermittent drips of rain falling
from the canopy of silver beech leaves
disturb this quiet, enough to make us look

up and beyond our stopping—the slightest
slip of wave rinses over a cache of cobbles
unearthed in the storm— to relish all

that waits patiently to be noticed before
darkness comes.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Lake Ontario shore, Monroe County, New York” by K. Iuppa. Used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: M.J.Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Between Worlds is her most recent chapbook, featuring lyric essays, flash fiction and prose poems (Foothills Publishing, 2013). Recent poems, flash fictions, and essays in When Women Waken, Poppy Road Review, Wild: A Quarterly, Eunoia Review, Andrea Reads America, Canto, Grey Sparrow Journal, The Poetry Storehouse, Avocet, Right Hand Pointing, Tiny-lights, The Lake (U.K.), The Kentucky Review, and more. She is the Writer-in-Residence and Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College. You can follow her musings on writing and creative sustainability on Red Rooster Farm on

Picking Up Alan Catlin in Schenectady
by Bunkong Tuon

Alan emailed me, “I’m thinking
of heading over to Dan’s Place
for the open mic. Interested?”
This was the guy who had written
over forty books of poetry and prose,
published in small magazines
and journals all over America.
I wrote, “Yeah, man. Absolutely.”
I backed my tiny silver Prius
out of my two-car garage,
drove through the quiet suburb
of Niskayuna, passed the home
of a colleague whose first book
examined Satan as a Marxist
rebel against a Capitalist God;
across from him lived an engineer,
the only other Asian in this safe
neighborhood with mowed grass,
kept flowers, pristine yards.
Then I got onto Union, took a left
on McClellan, stopped at a light.
A mother pushed a Price Chopper
cart across the street, her little children
trailing behind. The light changed.
I took a left on Bradley, then a quick right
onto Furman. More kids on the street
and sidewalk than in a baseball game
in Blatnick Park. I pulled over.
A teenage girl stood in her front lawn,
arms folded, eyes watching. She looked
like my cousin with her stance both defiant
and defensive. I took out my I-phone.
Alan picked up, said his house
was further down, closer to State,
apologized for not waiting outside,
said someone was killed, a drug deal
gone sour, near his doorsteps last night.

PHOTOGRAPH: “State Street, Schenectady, New York” by Donna Abbott Vlahos (The Business Review).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I lived in Schenectady, New York, for six years before recently moving to Niskayuna, a town that sits on Schenectady’s eastern border. The poem, in which our narrator drives from his suburban home in Niskayuna to pick up a fellow poet in the State Street area of Schenectady, is about the peculiar relationship between these two places. Also recently, I discovered that Alan Catlin, who has been publishing for years in independent journals and small presses across America, actually lives close by. The poem is my homage to Catlin, who at first glance seems to be the Bukowski of the East Coast but, upon further reflection, is a true poet in his own right.

PHOTO (above): Poet Alan Catlin


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bunkong Tuon teaches writing and literature in the English Department at Union College, in Schenectady, New York. His forthcoming publications include Nerve Cowboy, Mas Tequila Review, Chiron Review, and Patterson Literary Review. Gruel, his first full-length collection, is forthcoming from NYQ Press.

Yonkers Raceway
Inner Echo
by Gary Glauber

Landmark racetrack
built at century’s end,
green grandstand walls
visible from anywhere,
sporting a revelatory clock.

Harness thrived there,
a foreign world
right beside our own,
small drivers in striped silks
astride two-wheeled sulkies,
eight races nightly.

Familiar ritual,
with thousands roaring,
bets on the line.
Driving by you’d hear
trotters stirring excitement,
fluorescents illuminating
that half-mile dirt oval.

Whenever horses lacked hustle
sufficient to drivers’ desire,
out would come light whips
to motivate through noise
of striking the sulky’s shaft.
Enthused fanatics
would shout it loud and often:
“Go to the whip, Hervé!”

Not sure how
the term transferred
to our schoolboy vernacular,
but it did, forever lodged
in heads and hearts, an anthem
urging better selves to strive harder.

During that tough calculus test,
during football practice,
even on that hot weekend date,
that crowd voice in our brains,
motivating us to go ever harder,
do it far faster, strike us on
to ultimate victory.
It became our catchphrase,

Now we’ve grown up,
moved to places remote,
seen clock replaced by casino.
Still, when digging deep
for an ounce of extra motivation,
the familiar phrase
still sets us on to achievement.
For, in the final estimation,
you never leave your hometown.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is more a “Where I Lived” than a “Where I Live” poem. It’s all about the then Yonkers Raceway, now revamped as the Empire City Casino. It was in the shadow of the New York Thruway, but it also cast a large indirect shadow on all of our lives, here portrayed through an odd motivational catchphrase.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Yonkers Racetrack” by Istayul Martinez.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, and teacher. His works have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize as well as “Best of the Net.” He is a champion of the underdog who often composes to an obscure power poP soundtrack. His first collection, Small Consolations, will be published in 2015 by The Aldrich Press.

by Claude McKay

Far down, down through the city’s great gaunt gut
The gray train rushing bears the weary wind;
In the packed cars the fans the crowd’s breath cut,
Leaving the sick and heavy air behind.
And pale-cheeked children seek the upper door
To give their summer jackets to the breeze;
Their laugh is swallowed in the deafening roar
Of captive wind that moans for fields and seas;
Seas cooling warm where native schooners drift
Through sleepy waters, while gulls wheel and sweep,
Waiting for windy waves the keels to lift
Lightly among the islands of the deep;
Islands of lofy palm trees blooming white
That led their perfume to the tropic sea,
Where fields lie idle in the dew-drenched night,
And the Trades float above them fresh and free.

SOURCE:  “Subway Wind” appears in Claude McKay: Complete Poems (University of Illinois Press,  2008), available at

PAINTING: “Self Portrait at 14th Street Station” by Alfredo Arcia. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Festus Claudius “Claude” McKay (1889–1948) was a Jamaican-American writer and poet whose novels include Home to Harlem (1928), a bestseller that won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature, Banjo (1929), and Banana Bottom (1933). McKay also authored collections of poetry, a collection of short stories, Gingertown (1932), and two autobiographical books, A Long Way from Home (1937) and My Green Hills of Jamaica (published posthumously). His 1922 poetry collection, Harlem Shadows, was among the first books published during the Harlem Renaissance.

by Langston Hughes

breath and smell
so close
black and white
so near
no room for fear. 

 PHOTO: “New York subway, 1969” by Ralph Crane, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


written and directed by Sophie Barthes

If you like the films by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) and Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), you’ll probably enjoy the comedy-drama Cold Souls.

Screenwriter Sophie Barthles, who also directed the movie, based the story on a dream where Woody Allen was carrying around a jar that contained his soul, which looked like a chickpea. From this germ of an idea, Barthles has created a fun cross-genre romp that’s part sci-fi, part existential art film, and part flat-out comedy.

As an angst-ridden actor, Paul Giamatti (playing a character named Paul Giamatti) has trouble separating himself from the characters he plays, so he decides to  try soul extraction — a new technology he’s read about in the New Yorker.

During the course of the film, Giamatti has his soul removed, tries to get it back, but it gets stolen, so he borrows someone else’s soul, then decides to retrieve his stolen soul, and on and on — from New York to Russia and back. The story moves quickly, but has a lot of depth — exploring what, after all, makes us human. 

Find it at