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Flat Fixed

by 02/13/2014
Neighborhood: Featured, Staten Island

The strip of Bay Street that runs through Stapleton is an example of conspicuous gentrification. There's a Spanish tapas bar, and a Japanese Bistro, and a Sri Lankan clay pots restaurant, all opened in the last few years. In counterpoint, the old Paramount Theater has failed at numerous incarnations, and a White Castle sits stripped […]

On the Train in Winter

by 02/08/2014
Neighborhood: Across the River, All Over, Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens, Downtown Brooklyn, Featured, Gowanus, Greenwich Village

I have always lived near subway stations that are above ground, meaning that many of my days have begun by standing in the cold for a few minutes waiting for the train to roll in – the 1 at 125th Street, then the F at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street in Brooklyn. During the winter […]

Uptown

by 01/08/2014
Neighborhood: Featured, Harlem

“Uptown or Downtown? UPTOWN OR DOWNTOWN??” Mark sputtered, drowning out the Oasis tape in my little red Honda, as he downshifted to take the curve. My spiral-permed hair fluttered in the breeze as I flicked a Marlboro Light out the window. We had just popped out of the Holland Tunnel - Manhattan side - and […]

That’s Mad Creepy, Bro

by 01/01/2014
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village

I’m on the E train and a child who isn’t mine is leaning her head on my left shoulder. She is sleeping and I don’t quite know what to do yet. Her mother is to her left daydreaming, completely unaware that her daughter’s head has shifted onto a stranger. I decide to let her rest. […]

Polyester Skirt Suit

by 12/28/2013
Neighborhood: Featured, Prospect Park

I was wearing a camel-colored Brooks Brothers skirt suit that my father had bought for my mother in the early 80s when garments from Brooks Brothers were still Made in the USA, and people actually bought polyester suiting. My mother disliked its texture and never wore the outfit, so the material was cardboard stiff by […]

Man Kicks Car

by 09/26/2013
Neighborhood: Morningside Heights

Learning to walk the streets of Manhattan means learning how to jaywalk. When we first moved here, several years ago, from California, I was amazed at others and then at myself for jaywalking even while under the gaze of police officers. Crossing the streets in New York means looking and betting on yourself to outrace […]

Respect for the Dead

by 04/08/2013
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

I was on the 2 Express uptown on my way home after work. It was about 6:30 pm. We straphangers who were standing were packed in like sardines. As the train pulled into the 79th Street station, there was a sound, a whooshing of air, a release. It felt as though the power had been […]

Zone A

by 02/27/2013
Neighborhood: Featured, Staten Island

Hurricane Irene bared down on the East Coast, while my mother was in the Vent Unit of Staten Island University Hospital, on a respirator and recovering from her second abdominal surgery. Located in South Beach, designated Zone A, the hospital faced mandatory evacuation. A team of medical personnel, including her surgeon, the Director of the […]

Found in Transit

by 02/09/2013
Neighborhood: All Over, Grand Central Station, Union Square

A woman once offered me her seat on a rush hour 3 train. New Yorkers only donate seats to the elderly, the injured, and the pregnant, so it was obvious what she thought. “Not pregnant – just fat,” I told her, matter-of-factly, compelled to set precedent before this woman’s so-called generosity spawned an outbreak of […]

Ellis Island

by 02/03/2013
Neighborhood: Ellis Island

The following sonnets are excerpted from Robert Viscusi's forthcoming book, Ellis Island, which will be published in March 2013 by Bordighera Press. Random arrangements of lines from the 624 sonnets that comprise this epic work can be discovered via the Random Sonnet Generator at ellisislandpoem.com. This is the first time these poems have appeared as written […]

After the Storm

by 12/28/2012
Neighborhood: All Over

In the immediate wake of the storm nothing worked. Neither power nor light, neither running water nor heat, neither internet nor ATM, the fundamentals of middle class life, without which we don’t believe we can live happily nowadays. Fish and flesh rotted in the refrigerator. Dirty dishes piled up in the sink. Even your own […]

On Randall’s Island

by 10/18/2012
Neighborhood: Randall's Island

Why am I on Randall’s Island, shivering in a ski jacket, gloves, a scarf, and a blanket wrapped around me? It is 7 PM on a Friday evening, and I can see the Manhattan skyline lights flickering on. Normal people—sane people—are warm in bars, toasting pisco sours instead of facing blustering winds on Randall’s Island. […]