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.

Flight 1 by Dolan Morgan

OBJECT: Plane Crash 

BODY OF WATER: Jamaica Bay 

Lines taken from Mad Men’s season 2, episode 1


Hey Brooklyn, come home

with me. Traffic makes the parade

look bigger. My mother says

if you can’t feel your cheeks,

it’s time to stop. You’ll have to

forgive me for not looking at

a bunch of bodies in Jamaica Bay

and seeing the opportunity. The

ugly little pushed-in faces,

belabored breathing. It’s all oysters,

travel and club memberships.

They’re completely captive. Am I

going to cry? Take off your dress.

I can’t feel my cheeks.

Dolan Morgan lives and writes in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.