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Rootless

by 05/19/2019
Neighborhood: East Village

Sattley, California. Winter solstice 2016. We’re at my Aunt-in-law’s house, in the High Sierras, in the Egyptian room. Sphinxes, golden fabrics, a Nefertiti head. The rest of the house is faux Victorian, a modest ranch overstuffed with Costco products and kitsch. My wife, my toddler daughter, and I are curled up under an electric blanket […]

Old Lefties: An Oral History

by 04/21/2019
Neighborhood: Brighton Beach, Co-op City, Featured, 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 […]

Love and Letters at a Bar Downtown

by 04/14/2019
Neighborhood: Bowery

I work at a bar on the Bowery. Drunk people are funny. Also incredibly forgetful. Here is a list of some of the strange things we have found at the bar at the end of a long night: a single shoe; an antique baby stroller (it looked like the stroller for Rosemary’s Baby); a banjo; […]

The Tax Man

by 03/31/2019
Neighborhood: Bowery, Upper West Side

  It was tax time, April 1989, the cold and merciless spring a further insult to what had been a turbulent year for me. I’d been struggling with sobriety and was trying to bounce back from a failed romance. Some days, I felt like I walked through the world with my skin turned inside out, […]

Work Song #10 (Spirit Ties)

by 03/24/2019
Neighborhood: Tribeca

  Because I sat around Reading Joyce and Wallace Stevens and Shakespeare and spent Time checking out Museum shows and Galleries and walking Up and down the streets Of the city I had A superior attitude And even thought I was hot shit Compared to pawns And poor assholes Who had to wear Suits and […]

On Etan Patz and Walking to School

by 03/17/2019
Neighborhood: East Village

Etan Patz disappeared forty years ago, on May 25, 1979. I was seven then, in second grade, and right around that time, perhaps even that same month, is when I started walking home from school on my own. We lived on 4th Street and Avenue A, maybe three quarters of a mile from Grace Church […]

The Sultry Scent of Formaldehyde

by 03/10/2019
Neighborhood: East Village, Queens

My memories of high school are burdened by two deciding factors: the absence of girls and my aversion to math and science, both regrettable, given the fact that the prestigious institution I attended, Stuyvesant High School—then still in its old digs, a venerable building on East 15th Street—was all boys and all about math and […]

The Landlord’s Uncle

by 02/24/2019
Neighborhood: Bowery, Lower East Side

  The door to my apartment building is the color of the rough red wine men drink in small towns in Italy. In fact, Mr. Chinnici, who lives in my building, might look at home in a café in a Mediterranean village, drinking claret from a water glass. He wears a sooty, mushroom-colored cap; the […]

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 […]

The Bloody Stranger

by 01/27/2019
Neighborhood: Midtown, Subway

I moved to this city from Akron, Ohio in August 1971, and by the Summer of 1972, I was starting to wonder if I could actually make it here. I wasn’t earning enough to have my own apartment and still found the pace of the city overwhelming. I was certainly not going to head back home, […]

A Simple Procedure

by 01/13/2019
Neighborhood: East Village, Greenwich Village

I am 21 and in the heat of my first New York summer, when I decide to have a four-centimeter rod inserted into the meat of my inner bicep. About the size of a matchstick and made of a material I can’t pronounce, it will release progestin directly into my bloodstream, preventing eggs from leaving the womb and […]