Phillip Lopate describes the shape of Manhattan Island as‘a luxury liner, permanently docked, going nowhere’. This feeling of being tethered to the land, unable to get to sea, was a feature of New York life for much of the twentieth century. New York was an island without a coast. The West Side piers that once welcomed the Lusitania spent most of the twentieth century crumbling or behind barbed wire, while the East Side’s coves and points were cut off from pedestrians by six lanes of the Robert Moses-designed Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive. It wasn’t much easier to reach the shores of Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, either: with a few exceptions, they were largely reserved for municipal or industrial use, and easiest to see from the Staten Island Ferry (en route to the borough with the most beaches). Now, slowly, the city is reclaiming its shoreline, with some spectacular results.

Dreamland by Kevin Grijalva


BODY OF WATER: Coney Island


Tornadoes arrive in New York, Coney Island
roars in destiny but not destination and that’s the problem –
things bubble up in a dreamland with absolutely nothing
to celebrate except a temporary sentiment
that collapses in a fit of thunderous applause

– and if it does,
maybe I am myself: a sunken pier
jettisoning into a space that exists in tandem to reality;

dreams do not
dredge, and to deal with discrepancies
remember that scrutinizing the universe
is not a logical traipsing down the boardwalk;

in dreams above the water,
nothing can float away.

Kevin Grijalva is a Southern California native living in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in decomP magazinE, Radius, and The Catalonian Review.