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.

These Three Deer by Devin Kelly


BODY OF WATER: Lower New York Bay

To say they swam is image enough. And it was

not still summer, the water cold and chopped

by some knife of wind. Their heads only

above water. And I no longer know what is

moving under the surface. But to say they swam

is image enough. Most things that have left me

in this life have not done so wrapped in twine.

Though maybe I have done the pushing gone

and the throwing away, and each morning

I still have hands to toss the sheets to side

and place my feet on ground. We are all

in this hurting thing. How it moves

like river water, all around, and how it settles

like the circle tides of bays. Two of those three

died that day, in that moment after journeying,

just after bleeding on the riprap and touched

by human hands. Is to say they swam

image enough? Their eyes wide and too white

like a stranger drunk who tells you he loves you

for the very first time. I do not know

how or why or who am I to play some part

in all this dying, only that, as a child,

I ran away from home so often my father

kept a banana packed and ready for my leaving.

And these three deer, and just one left

after such display of sorrow, weaving through

what trees still stand in this city, how it

must wonder what home exists for all its

swimming, as it dances through a city yard.


Devin Kelly is an MFA student at Sarah Lawrence College, where he serves as the nonfiction editor of LUMINA. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Armchair/Shotgun, Post Road, RATTLE, The Millions, Appalachian Heritage, Midwestern Gothic, Meat for Tea, apt, Big Truths, Kindred, Dunes Review, Steel Toe Review, Cleaver Magazine, Passages North, Lines & Stars, and District Lit. He co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series in Upper Manhattan, and teaches Creative Writing and English classes to 7th graders and high schoolers in Queens, as well as the occasional children’s poetry workshop at the New York Public Library in Harlem, where he currently lives. You can find him on Twitter @themoneyiowe.


Cervine Quick Current by Carl Schlachte


BODY OF WATER: New York Harbor


Taking into account the curvature of the earth, struggling to stand, they came here first from

          transitional areas between forests and thickets,


From the river three of them climb early October banks in the shadow of the bridge.


Call it what you will, if you favor escape or panicked burst because the terms vary with dialect

          that looms over the horizon, can be seen and spans for miles, can’t ignore that one was



To find their way here, as if summoned to be seen as a noble creature. They appeared, to be used

          as flattering simile or metaphor when in comparison to a famous warrior, hero or chief,

          who by comparison will take on their qualities—but bound


This prisoner is who we are now, flattering its area with candor but caring not for this, scared and

          appeared and uninterested in working as a symbol for humans who can’t suggest

          otherwise our regret.

Carl Schlachte is yet another poet living in Brooklyn. He is an MFA candidate at Brooklyn College. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Brooklyn Review, 1913: A Journal of Forms, and The West Wind Review.

Florida (Hurricane Andrew) by George Boorujy


BODY OF WATER: Lower New York Bay

florida by george boorujy.jpg

Editors' Statement

As the title of George Boorujy’s piece, Florida (Hurricane Andrew), underscores, we do not usually expect to see deer in New York City, let alone in the waterways of New York. And yet, in October 2011, three deer were found, frantic, at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge in Brooklyn, the first seen in the borough in many years. Naturally strong swimmers, they likely made their way over from Staten Island, but the circumstances of their journey are suspect: one of deer’s hind legs were bound with twine. Team UNY had no idea upon first encountering George’s show-stopping drawing at PPOW gallery this summer that we would soon have cause to publish it, but if we’ve learned anything in our two years at the helm of Underwater New York, it is that NYC’s waters work in mysterious ways.

George Boorujy was born and raised in New Jersey. Intending to pursue a career as a biologist, he ended up with a BFA from the University of Miami in 1996. This gateway degree predictably led to a MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2002. He has exhibited widely, was a 2010 NYFA fellow in painting, and was a 2009-10 Smack Mellon resident. He is represented by P.P.O.W. Gallery in New York, and lives and works on the far western tip of Long Island. With all those other artists. Visit his website to see more of his work.