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A Sports Coat is Worth a Thousand Words

by 08/18/2019
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Jamaica, Long Island

My dad reached inside the closet for his new jacket, single breasted, two button, and straight off the rack. It was pencil gray with flecks of black in it and may have had those professorial looking patches on the sleeves, but I’m not sure. He didn’t care much about clothes and the jacket was nothing […]

Settling

by 08/11/2019
Neighborhood: Long Island, Queens, The Catskills

I broke up with my first boyfriend one month, two weeks, and four days after I found out he was fucking his neighbor. I never told him that I’d overheard them.  He never wanted to fight; he didn’t want us to be the couple who fought. It was important to him that we maintain a […]

The Darkroom

by 06/30/2019
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill, Midwood

I learned to write in seventh grade. Not to form sentences, but to know and use my voice on paper, and to hope I would be heard. It was 1969: Nixon was president and I had a new teacher: a 26-year-old draft evader named Robert Rusch. He was six feet four and, moreover, wore cowboy […]

Keith Haring in the Brooklyn Museum

by 05/05/2019
Neighborhood: Brooklyn

I used to like Keith Haring’s stuff When you’d see It on the subway You’d look out The window as The train pulled In and see A space ship With a beam Of light on a Baby or A dog or Something And you’d smile Or see the ones with the Big muscle guy With […]

Old Lefties: An Oral History

by 04/21/2019
Neighborhood: Brighton Beach, Co-op City, Lower East Side, Ozone Park

Editor’s Note — These poems emerged out of oral histories of the American Left that Paul Buhle conducted forty years ago. They are not literal transcripts, but lyrically condense the stories he heard. Buhle traveled New York from Coop-City to Ozone Park to the Lower East Side to Brighton Beach for this project. The old […]

The Ohio Convention

by 03/03/2019
Neighborhood: Greenpoint, Port Authority, Woodside

I ran into Dad’s room after hearing my name called. “Take off your shoes,“ he said. I wondered what the heck was going to happen now. That morning my mom had told me that I would be going to Akron, Ohio with Dad to see the people who caused his nightmares and screaming. His war […]

Naked City

by 02/10/2019
Neighborhood: Central Park, Cypress Hills, Manhattan

For a time in the late 1980s, a local TV station in New York City aired late-night reruns of Naked City. The show, a black-and-white police drama set in New York, had originally aired from 1958 to 1963, the year of my birth. Those years were a critical period in the civil rights movement, and, […]

Car Pool, 1994

by 02/03/2019
Neighborhood: Lower East Side, Williamsburg

Got to pick these kids up. Oh why did we start a stupid car pool? Maybe car pools made sense in the suburbs of 1972 but…in Williamsburg, 1994? Still, it beats trying to get four five year-olds from Brooklyn to Avenue D in Manhattan by subway and bus. One big problem is our car. I […]

What the World Can Do

by 12/02/2018
Neighborhood: Coney Island, East Village

In the summer of 1973, my younger brother and I shared a basement apartment on East 12th Street in Brooklyn off Avenue J, a nice middle-class sort of area. We had lost our parents to cancer and a stroke, ten months apart, a few years before this, when he was fourteen and I was sixteen. […]

Mom’s Fondest Dreams (A play in one act)

by 11/04/2018
Neighborhood: Williamsburg

SETTING:  The time is the present. The location is a small, trendy Williamsburg retail establishment located a tasteful distance off Bedford Avenue, just across from P.S. 84. The legend on the door reads simply “leif” (for the benighted or initiates, the title appears to be a multi-valanced mixture of archaism [adv. OE gladly], urban slang […]

A Trip to Aqueduct

by 10/21/2018
Neighborhood: Aqueduct, East New York, South Ozone Park

The day after I turned ten, my mother took me to my first horse race at Aqueduct. Hitting the regular numbers didn’t pay as well as the horses, and sometimes when Mama had an itch to gamble she couldn’t wait on the numbers man, Mr. Sheyanne, to come around. Besides which, she whispered to me […]

My View of Sunset Park

by 10/14/2018
Neighborhood: Papua New Guinea, Sunset Park

Fifth Avenue entrance to Sunset Park My five-year-old daughter Claudia loves to go up and down the hills of Sunset Park on her scooter. We put her little crash helmet on and push her up the park hills, but she loves to go down them herself, having become an expert braker and master of turns. […]