Awake, o city dwellers,
to your snow-covered streets!
A raw haze crowns the skyscrapers!
All hail a new monarch—the new year!—
in this blizzard of great promise!

“Five more minutes,”
you plead with the alarm clock,
burrowing in the warmth of your bed
in a room too small
in an apartment too high
and too expensive.

“No,” the clock shouts.
“The world is waiting.”



I fell in love with the boy at the Strand;
I had Jane Austen in my heart
and William Burroughs on my tongue.



Carved into the tables of McSorley’s,
I find my common name,
(_________ was here!)
no doubt etched decades ago
by some wandering soul,
not unlike myself,
in search of an adventure.



The sighs of collected schoolchildren
and adults from their basement cubicles
crescendo in perfect unison:
summerthat grand suspension
teases from the distant shoreline,
a deceptive cadence
bringing rain to the boardwalk.


At night,
you may not see the stars,
but if you squint really neat
at the top of the Empire State Building,
you may see someone’s aunt
posing for a picture with her girlfriends
or trying to find her hotel
on the Upper West Side
before heading off to see that show
on Broadway
that cousin Sarah said she just had to see.



bump bump
excuse me where you going
get out of the way
hey watch it mister
sorry lady
beg your pardon
oops I’m sorry
oops no my fault
stomp stomp

beep beep



Dante’s Inferno
is no match
for the L train to Brooklyn
or even (gasp!)
that one awful line
on the Upper East Side.



By now,
everyone has gone to the Hamptons
or Fire Island,
and the daring have traveled
to the Catskills
or the Adirondacks.

I, too, have traveled from
my quaint little flat in Hamilton Heights,

placing my flag into the earth
and setting up camp

on a bench several yards
from the Bethesda Terrace.

With summer not yet over
and autumn not yet begun,
I shiver at this lonely purgatory:
the passing breeze
and falling leaf
and the year slowly escaping
into the red-orange leaves
of the ancient elms.



The white pants and shoes mourn the loss of summer,
and they, like everyone else on this day,
hang solemnly in the closet,
out of work, unlike everyone else,
until the spring.



O Yankee Stadium
storied cathedral of twenty-seven
World Series titles
whereupon sacred ground the Babe
     and DiMaggio
            and Mickey Mantle

stole fire from the Gods
with their Promethean mitts,
we give you now our wallets,
for a souvenir or a hot dog
or some other temporary distraction
from reality and routine.



We are thankful
for an open seat on the train,
an easy commute,
or a gentle snowfall that stops
prior to the end of the work day.

Seldom are we thankful for
the Hudson River
or Sheep’s Meadow
or the walk between 6th and 7th Avenue
on 13th Street.

Still, beauty surrounding us,
we stare at the Palisades,
to that spot in New Jersey
where the luxury apartments
being built
will soon haunt the horizon.



Robert Burns had it right.

If he lived in Manhattan,
we might find him at Rockefeller Center,
staring up at that beautiful tree
and down at the stick-figure skaters,
having wandered many a weary foot
and paddled the streams,
the glow of Hanukkah
behind him some years
and Christmas still ahead of all of us
in the crisp glow of pharmacy displays
across the street.

This old, tired year slowly lays down to rest
while the bright young babe
of the next
yawns softly,
rising from bed to put on his trousers
to partake in the glorious party
with acquaintances both new and old
some ten blocks below.

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Return to gallery of work


A Year in New York City, written in 2014, is a collaborative project with writer and composer John Grimmett