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How is Your Mother?

by 09/06/2020
Neighborhood: Featured, Greenwich Village, West Village

“How is your mother?” they’d ask with a friendly smile. The stationery store manager with the club foot from whom she bought her cigarettes, the Eurotrash guy at the shoe store with whom she spoke German, everyone at the Jefferson Market. The shopkeepers up and down Sixth Avenue loved her. She made them feel special, […]

Bad Date

by 08/30/2020
Neighborhood: West Village

  (photo credit: Elizabeth Schoettle) Sometimes it seems New York will get hotter and hotter until the greenhouse glass breaks and we are all dead. But this was the winter of 2006. The night was cold, bitter, the swelling sky would not let loose, hair hit my face, and my coat blew open before I pressed […]

Nothing is Certain: Death and Bagels

by 08/09/2020
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

My very first marriage proposal came from the guy behind the counter at H&H Bagels on 80th and Broadway. I was around twelve and realize now he was most likely just looking for a tip or playing with the shy girl who was only recently allowed to go out from her school to buy her […]

Michael Jackson’s Father

by 07/04/2020
Neighborhood: Bowery

When my son and I moved to the Bowery in the late 1970s, we took our place alongside the slow-marching parade of men and women who moved through those streets like ghosts. Some were devoid of identity and shape and earthbound spirit; others were vivid and sublime.  A black man, a vagabond who trolled the […]

Central Park Saves the Day, Again

by 06/14/2020
Neighborhood: Central Park

I’ve been spending some jobless time in Central Park during the pandemic with other New Yorkers, where we are, seemingly, at times–aimless–roaming the park’s eight hundred and forty-three acres. What are we doing here, I often want to blurt out. We should be in our offices, attending boring meetings, typing away at our computers, picking […]

Dinner with Dad

by 05/31/2020
Neighborhood: Upper East Side, West Village

“Hi Jim, it’s Dad, just touching base to see how everything is going and how you’re feeling and how everyone is today. Looks like the first day of spring, the weather is horrible, I’m sure you agree. Give me a ring, let me know how things are going?” My Dad, Bill, spoiled me for fine […]

Nostalgia for the Norm

by 05/10/2020
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village

Observations in the Vale and Vector of the Virus It’s late. And again, I survey the silence, inverting wakefulness and sleep. Again, in place of dreaming, I listen to the refrigerator humming. The construction site that had been growing like a giant metal bean stalk outside my window, down the block, has suspended activity, its […]

Betta Fish Blues

by 04/26/2020
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

“Can you help me?” I said this to the young woman who was opening boxes in front of the aisle of fish tank decorations. “Sure,” said the woman. She pulled herself up from her squat by pushing off the edge of the box. “What can I help you with?” “I’d like to see your goldfish,” […]

In Praise of Rooftops

by 04/19/2020
Neighborhood: East Village

I’m sitting on the roof of a walk-up on East 11th Street, staring into the large glass windows of a penthouse apartment across the street. It’s an early evening in August, the perfect time of night for idling: not late enough to make you worry that you’ve wasted the night, but since the sun’s gone […]

The Polaroid Photo

by 03/22/2020
Neighborhood: Bowery

I have an old Polaroid of Dolores, Roni, and me. I was finally painting my kitchen, after not dealing with it for years. There’s a stepladder slanting diagonally across the snapshot and I am in the center, sitting on the bottom rung, a glass of wine in my hand. Dolores is vamping toward me from […]

A Breaking Point

by 02/16/2020
Neighborhood: Midtown East

Bellevue was a dark castle in my childhood imagination. In grade school, long before I knew that my own mother had once landed there, my classmates and I spoke of Bellevue in a chilled whisper, as the place you’d end up in if you lost your mind. A straitjacket and a padded cell would be […]

Super Poems

by 01/26/2020
Neighborhood: Lower Manhattan, Tribeca

Waterbugs Before I was a super If you asked me what A waterbug was I’d of said One of those little things That kind of runs on the top Of ponds or quiet pools On the sides of streams But at 258 Broadway Down in the sub-basement where I had to make my way through […]