Archive

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.

Orchard Beach by Denise Milstein

BODY OF WATER: Pelham Bay


This 4th of July, backs to slanted sun, we watch waves.
A lipsticked youth paces, hair inert,
as kids scream or cry in shallows of floating waste. 

Then I understand how the planet counts on our demise.
My self adjusts to more or less than person.
Where nothing ends, the world transforms. 

I’m phytoplankton, quartz in sand, heavy metal sinking.
I’m water morphed to gas, free to slice through time,
to burst the container, wilt the leaf. 

When I’m glacial again, what will love be? Or loss?

When I’m glacial, what will word be? What fear?

For the love of molecule, for the dewy universe.
For folks oohing and aahing over the fireworks.
(I always hear bombs.) 

Brown ones east of the fence, concrete parking lot in back of Tony’s Pier;
white ones west, manicured lawn of the Morris Yacht & Beach Club. 

For that little girl I hold up over the fence so she can see watersky,
unwieldy bundle of bones and hope in my arms. 

Against our false divisions,
For kin beyond, 

I dream this all without us. 


Denise Milstein is a writer and researcher. She teaches at Columbia University and edits Dispatches from the Field, a publication series devoted to ethnographic material. She is a member of the Ensayos collective, a group of artists, scientists, and local agents based in Tierra del Fuego. Her work has appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Hobart, and elsewhere. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, she lives and works in New York City.

mool, soom (water, breath) by Jianna Jihyun Park

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Jianna Jihyun Park was in residence on Governors Island from September 4-30, 2018.


1

wanted to reach the ocean bottom
and fall asleep there, i knew
of the blue caress
shredded sunlight
undercurrent lullaby.
it wasn’t a wish for an end
just a wish for something bluer.
sleepless children dragged
their feet from one stone
to another as the mermaids
tried to snatch them with
refined reef, dreamless sleep,
sheep counting bubbles
coming out of a girl’s gaping mouth.
close. open. no words, no teeth, hollow
cave of semi-pondered abandon.
deep down a whale crooned
open. close. visions undulate, blur—
when i became water
i knew of the coolness of her skin,
endless bed made of sand
where bodies lay
as if sleeping
as if dreaming
dreams leaking
sleepless sea 

sea urchin gently poked into my finger
as I turned the stone and reach for the day’s catch.
“too small,” said the haenyeo who threw it
back to the sea.
on the news, a Chinese lady was preparing dinner
when a crawfish whisker poked her finger—
she died the next day of bacterial infection.
“what about dinner?” a child asks.
the diver who sent the baby urchin back
to the sea says it’s too hot, one can’t dine,
i mean dive, with the wetsuit on.
white reefs can’t tell the living and the dead
while abalones hide deeper into abyss.
on the news, the dinner table is empty
& so is the ocean.


Materials: Digital C-print, clear label film

Artist Statement: How does a body endure grief and guilt at the twilight of neoliberalism that has often overlooked the values such as empathy, community, and sustainability? How is the role of haenyeo (female free divers) who dive into the cold water to collect memories of the ocean similar to that of an artist who seeks to retrieve memories of lost bodies? Combined with the images captured near the island, the texts examine the poetics of grief, loss and breath, and imagine a human ecology not subsumed by the economy of mass production and hyperproductivity.


Find more about Jianna Jihyun Park at jiannadawn.wordpress.com.

Three Poems from Night Crossing by Kelly Sullivan

This work was created during the WoW/UNY Governors Island Residency. Kelly Sullivan was in residence on Governors Island from October 15-31, 2018.


Cleave

Say nothing is boring. Say there is no where
we cannot find the husk of something
and dig its fine lining, the white thread up
the cicadas’ split trunk. Say there are forty-

five words for the way a helicopter’s rotor blade
fucks up this city. Say we have a job to do,
a field to cull, a closet to open and inside, bees,

woven through the fabric of the wall. Say there are
five or six small tricks we use to fix the planet’s
last gasp, and when we do we open up

ourselves. Then cleave. Split against the grain, move
sideways through the narrow pass, divide
and divide, rehash, repeat, announce a line or two

of industry inside these walls. The plaster falls.
Reveal the grid of honeybees, each cell full
to dripping, each insect’s eye divided to a thousand

tiny globes as if, in concentration, we could
replicate their quiet production, split
and make our own planet again and again, dripping

with the richness of it. Say, then, we just
move on to the next, another range of mountains,
blush of leaves across the cooler hip,

another split river carving out a canyon
for a helicopter to explode in sound. Shut
your mouth on that. We know it is not pass on and pass

on but slowly rising glacier melt. The elm outside
survived disease in the shelter of the island’s
isolated belt. An archipelago of human craft

engulfing it with cells of city blocks, apartments,
windows. Our eyes to the glass. Hands pressed
against it. Just one place. Cleave tight and don’t let go.

Coat Without a Body

Distended to the left, one sleeve
half-tucked at the cuff, dirty
around the collar and ripped
at the edge. Did the man stand up
and walk to the ledge
and leave? Did the woman
take her husband’s coat
when she came across, her night
journey cold, the waves rocking
the small wooden craft?
Is it left at rest, or to rot, moth-
eaten, a drip of paint across
the seam. The brass buttons
gone green.

Styrofoam Stone After the Nor’Easter

Washed up with a line
of dreck. Thrown across
a wooden deck, a wave
of rubbish, human packing
swept in a sheet
of slick dross. A couple
takes turns photographing
each other with
this bridge
spanning the sky. Storm
surge over at three. It’s
going dark
and sand grits
against our feet. I kick
the styrofoam stone
and watch it catch the wind
and blow back in.


Artist Statement: These three poems —“Cleave,” “Coat Without a Body,” and “Styrofoam Stone”—were written for a collection in progress, titled Night Crossing (previously Toledo Blade), a book that explores crossings—rivers, dreams, countries, borders, climates.


Kelly Sullivan is a writer and academic living in New York City. She teaches Irish Studies at New York University. Find more about her at kellyesullivan.com.

In a Way We Were Always Here on the Moon by Julia LoFaso


1.

No need to leave your shoes by the door. Our home has long been open to the outside. Across the water, steel and glass shoot up like rootless trees. And it’s a rare privilege, we realize, to go to seed. We appreciate your visit and aim to be of service.

2.

You have questions, maybe. This house, the one you’re standing in: who built its first fire? This railing, smooth as bone: whose hands have worn it down? We were here when it happened; let’s talk while we still can. One day the crowds will drown us out. No more paint to flake under your fingernails, new floors reinforced against creak and moan. They will sandblast the crumbs that fell from our mouths, lay forgotten under fridges for lifetimes.

3.

We have so much practice at being forgotten. We’ve even taught it to others. Like Collins, circling the moon where other men would land, plant flags. He grew here, on this island, learned the fine art of living in reflected fame. We saw him off with such high hopes, watching the sky from down here. Lunar light enhancing our stereotypical translucence, we were white wisps waving, wiping tears.

Our most famous/not-famous son all grown up! Off piloting a module, satellite to the sparkle. Larger than life but still circumnavigating the spotlight. Is he not our finest example, evidence enough of our expertise? It’s an essential skill to cultivate, being forgotten, the only tool you’ll utilize eternally.

4.

But this place we lived, this place where you stand. It has not forgotten us. It can’t.

A house is water, wood, electricity: a body with aches and ills harboring secrets in its joints. Not ancient manuscripts, necessarily, not treasures, just the exertions of unknown builders’ muscles, the breath of their unknown lungs. Nestled between beams, wires fray, praying for rain and end of days, when they’ll spark and make contact with lightning at last.

Incredibly, there is a fire in every basement. Tamed, for now, in an iron fortress, glowing red to warn you. A line of oil snakes unseen below the street, below the river, a mainline straight to the center of the Earth and all the millions it buried over eons. We run on those fumes, on that haunting. We have nothing or maybe everything to be afraid of.

If you’re rattled, it might help to remind yourself of something.

Anyone can haunt. Everyone does. You haunt your own mother when you leave her body. You haunt that first home for all time.


Julia LoFaso's writing has been published or is forthcoming in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Conjunctions, Underwater New York, Day One, The Southeast Review, and Elm Leaves Journal, among other publications. She has an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University and lives in Queens. 

Three Poems by Cameron Gorman


1.
pure silver

it only feels right sometimes
when the moon comes in and the concrete
swells like waves

the scent of inland grasses
much sweeter than this sand

sometimes when the summer feels
just so
and the wind catches you
by the ankles

your body remembers a time before
this one
a you before you are
now

who knew less about asphalt
and more about wood
and who knew
just when it felt right

to never lose that feeling again
who
on a brandy night
on a gin night
on a jack night

remembered how
to never lose
home

 

2. 
nosegay

she read in a book once
about the victorian ladies
stepping around dead
things holding kerchiefs to their
belladonna eyes

they would protect themselves
from the storm
from the sweaty humanity
by perfuming handkerchiefs

holding them to their
faces fanning the
sweet water to their
mouths

she wanted to try it
with other things
with sidelong glances
and eyes that
hitched on to women
like leeches as they walked

maybe the flowers would sweeten
the air the
feeling of the air
the feeling in the air

and she clipped them to try
she spent the money
for one rose
to add to the bundle
she held them to her breasts
she hoped they might
see the flowers first

 

3. 
unravel

it’s impossible to keep
all the tiny pieces of myself
in

and they drop through the sink
through the garbage
into your mouth

i am dirty, so i shower
i shave the hair from my arms
and it washes to sea

i stem the bleeding
and plastics litter the sand

i’m quite sure i have touched
myself, or a past echo of me
when i inhale the seawater
from under the riptide
wave

when i dig my toes into the
dirt, eat a mealy
apricot, drink cold
lemonade

i am already in so much
so heavy, that it makes me wonder
why they think we have to wait
to become one
with the earth

 


Cameron Gorman is a student at Kent State University in Ohio, where she works for student media outlets including KentWired, The Burr and Luna Negra. She is an aspiring writer and poet, and has or will have work in the Great Lakes Review, Work Literary Magazine, Bitterzoet and Better Than Starbucks. Living in New York City for the summer of 2018 has taught her a lot about the value of forgotten things.

“Some Words...” by Sarah Passino

BODY OF WATER: East River


excerpts from “Some Words From 40-Some Days Before the Eclipse Translating Lorca’s Danza de la Muerte By Writing It In Rice Flour Around 40 Wall Street Like A Crab Or Like a Whale But For Sure For the Ants & For Sure For a Sum of the _Waste_”


 

//

thirteenth day

a loom
a rag
a rug

the sky
a skydyed
blue theres

always a ticket
says the man
taking tickets

 

 

 

//

eighteenth day

today it is 92 degrees
the long line for the rockaways
a woman says the city

takes seats from trains
to put on these boats & i know it
i know accountants back in my office

in the middle of america i had
a picture of the formula for capital
tacked up on the wall next to the

lightswitch & all day i drew data
maps on the walls in felt tip
of sons of mechanics

sons of farmers sons of army
down long low certificate
hallways past zinnia past red

mulch to gap factory back
the school & up to cricket front
circle circuit on the bottom

of each map i wrote what everyone
says who knows capitals not capital
in your pocket
so map so fable

so see it move from my window i
think the green lawn would look so
nice if we let grass grow long brown

 

 

 

//

nineteenth day

heat & no shade & no trees
& the street looks upside down
women wear floral shirts

a man hands me a one dollar bill
& both my shoes have holes in the sole
overdressed on south street

underdressed by front i walk up
the eight blocks south to front to water
to pearl to hanover to william to broad

to new to broadway to trinity trinity
is a church like a church is a king
soot refers to soot this town

was built wait slaves built this town
trinity owns this town & any whale
that washes up to 14th street but 14th

street keeps washing up slaves
built this street just below the land
of the blacks untribed by wall

or wolf free but for the wall
& the wolf i look at my uncles
cherokee feather want to ask

do we have some black blood do
we have indian blood but i know
the answer get home google 

sandals then womens cutest
sandals then cutest sexiest
sandals summer 17
& fall asleep

 

 

 

//

twentieth day

i wake up in the middle of the night
& look out & see B working still
on the couch say sorry I thought  

your foot was a goose & fall
back asleep which i don’t remember
til he tells me in the morning

laughing on his way in the shower
i fry eggs crack rind watermelon write

ants see ants/ whale sea whale/ ants see whale

on scraps of paper & read it to him
through the bathroom door he trades
one year for 150000 dollars & i stay

making breakfast read him scraps
of poems & tonight i walk from wall
street to the hudson where a poet 

tells me the constraint is where
the ecstatic come from
& i remember
J telling me about that poem thats just

a list of names z is a rich poet y is a rich poet x
is a rich poet
& at home livings the constraint
but here           maybe i just cant see them yet

a german poet tells me writing in english
is her constraint and i wonder where she
got her earrings & if i wrote in other

languages would i be able to write about
more beautiful things battery park is full up of
fireflies & men with clipboards looking up

from artillery to tops of buildings scraping
that sky tonight that all look like jewel boxes &
the breeze is so nice & i can see from one scale

to the other from here remember the night
at home fireflies synchronize their firefly
lights & how big all of us get how limitless

for a flash & at rest & loose & solvent

 

 

 

//

twenty-fourth day

the water is rough
& mystics is just another
way to say famous

what did lorca know about
a man turned to thing of waste
A blasts out from blackallacia

yo this is what it looks like wipipo
when you throw your people away

& in brooklyn ten of us on a roof

worth all together in dollars
a hundred million dollars
& drinking smokey mezcal

one as a boy watched a french painter
paint his silk walls & who would not know
that now he decides things with money

one makes 40000 in dollars for one night
to take one picture to post so far my lorca

The pepper trees up and died
taking their light-lit little berries
Camels, flesh-lashed, left too
and the cob swan lifts the white sky in his beak

It was a time for brittle things
the firefox-scratched eye, the laminated cat
the decayed iron of the great bridges
and the perfect silence because cork

in white ink unless this is printed on black
paper then it is my Lorca in black & since
it cant come through i can say it plain

the water is rough today theres no away
away today all the jokes are in red
& of course in due course all comes back

 


Sarah Passino is a Nashville poet living in Brooklyn. Recently, her work has appeared in Broome Street Review, Poetry Daily, and The Hopkins Review and was awarded the Rachel Wetzsteon Poetry Prize for the 92nd Street Y. She writes occasional Tiny Letters about writing days, bread committees, and what love looks like in public. She has worked as a professor, an organizer, and currently works as an editor. She is on instagram @Small Takes.

 

 

 

As If Waiting to be Set: the Whirling Lost Objects, in Space by Rebecca Pyle

OBJECT: Formica Dinette

BODY OF WATER: East River


There is a Formica dinette in the East River
Manhattan
Sitting upright
As if waiting to be
Set. 

Right off 16th Street.

But carry me to the logic
Of the table:  it is the compass
Whether it is square, or round, or oblong
Or patterned with fake pearl or wild mica bits
Making it here, everywhere, like
Flattened sheared gem.

Set the hands, like the long ends of mustache
Working their way all over the table-clock
Clock, celebrating the earth-and-ground-glory of the train:
The locomotive the steam engine headed anywhere to the
Railmen’s tune:  Greenwich Mean Time.

All the train-men always checking their watches; they’ve
Systemized the world.  Dinner’s on time, so’s surly breakfast,
So’s travel. 
Forget the sun making its dimple biscuit somewhere or
The moon larding us with its cold-plate oyster-cream;
Pity the sun and
Moon, they’re the whirled or whirling lost objects
In space.

We have math, we have time.

Oh, we had time. 


Rebecca Pyle graduated from the university beloved by the Wizard of Oz, the University of Kansas, where she very long ago won the Edna Osborne Whitcombe, Edgar Wolfe, and William Herbert Carruth writing awards:  three first prizes.  Thank you, Mr. Oz.  Her work appears lately---as poetry, short stories, or paintings---in Constellations, Stoneboat, Wisconsin Review, New England Review, Hawai’i Review, Indian Review, and Raven Chronicles Journal, among others.  Her art website is rebeccapyleartist.com; she lives in Salt Lake City, Utah---the Great Salt Lake visible, not too distant.

Mother of Exiles - the Hudson speaks to New York City by Laura Fairgrieve

OBJECT: Statue of Liberty

BODY OF WATER: Hudson River


Liberty was not delivered to us in an envelope
she was shipped from grayer pastures and I
breathed life into you in a new land
I brought you here and into her arms
and I am awash of postcards and trapped lightning
I am scabbed over from the coins tossed into me
my currents were made for larger bodies

I yawn and a hundred years worth of trash
gives way to bronzed shores
bronze arms
all greenness is forgotten by the wish for heat
the hope of skin and blood to greet it

keep your pomp, my waters were meant
to rush like a busted dam
to tangle and mix with bodies tossed by
the Atlantic, the Mediterranean
born by the Queiq
to clean off the pomp of their regimes
not to paint on a new one
to surge beneath foreign ships
not to knit a net against them

ban your own pomp and if you don’t know who I mean
imagine a fountain
a pipe bursting outwards like a rocket
a rising tide erupting from an index finger
pointing into its own pale eye

my waters were meant for mightier shores
and the woman above me
shrinks at the seams
while my currents stretch like fingers
searching for the worthy whose rafts
are kept away
our golden door is bolted and
my currents itch outwards.


Laura Fairgrieve received her MFA from Adelphi University where she currently teaches. Her work has appeared and is forthcoming in Inscape Magazine, Mortar Magazine, Ink in Thirds, The Bitchin' Kitsch, East Coast Ink, and Words Dance Publishing. She is a recipient of the 2016 Poets & Writers Amy Award. She lives in Brooklyn. 

Exodus of Dead Horse Bay by Julie Lunde


 

So it was written: the deeps covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone.

It goes like this. One person was chasing another. The sea split. There was a door. There was a crossing.
From one side to the other. Then the door slammed. It slammed in the face of the chaser.  He was hit.
He was sunk. He went down.

We were still running and we did not look back. Never look back. It slows you down. Distraction.
Face forwards. Run faster. It went like this. The sea unsplit. The stones went down. The deeps covered
them. They sank down to the bottom, trapped there like a hard word stuck in a tight throat.

So it is said. Memories of it washed up jagged on the shore. Like cracked glass, the edges healed.
Things tend towards smoothness. Things end. 


Julie Lunde is a recent graduate of the Northwestern University creative writing program. In June 2015, she was named the recipient of the Arch Street Prize for her essay "The Plural of Fish." Her poetry and prose have also been published in The Allegheny Review, 3Elements Review, and Prompt Magazine. She was also the founder of the Northwestern Jewish Writers’ Workshop. She is currently living in Manhattan and working on her first book.

From Islands by Kelly Sullivan

Kelly Sullivan wrote this poem for an event in collaboration with Marie Lorenz's Flow Pool at Recess. See pictures and read more about it here.


OBJECT: Currents and Tides

BODY OF WATER: All Over


At low tide on Easter Sunday we walk the donkeys
across an chois, the step, to Straw Island, the one time of the year
when new moon and sun converge to make the aquatic
almost terrestrial. The donkeys graze for three months
on marram grass and vetch, birth their foals, drink rain water left
in angled rocks except some years someone forgets
we’ve left them there and drought or storms or geography
constrict so they are half-starved, parched, and try their best
to swim. In 1974 we found their skeletons scattered across
the ground, dry as desert. An chois — the step — because
to step across from Inishmore to the island of straw rests in principle
on the fact that bodies in gravitational pull grow stronger
the closer they come together. And Easter an ancient celebration
of the rising year, when we shift our balance back to day.
Just a step between coming together or falling away.




This poem derives in large part from a beautiful passage in Tim Robinson’s Stones of Aran Pilgrimage in which he explains the gravitational forces underlying tidal movement, and the practice of taking donkeys out to graze on Straw Island off Inishmore, accessible by sandbar only at the lowest tide of the year. --Kelly Sullivan


Kelly Sullivan’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in Salmagundi, Poetry Ireland Review, Southword, and elsewhere. She published a novel, Winter Bayou, in Ireland in 2005. She teaches Irish literature at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House. kellyesullivan.com

Resurfaces by Kelly Sullivan

Kelly Sullivan wrote this poem for an event in collaboration with Marie Lorenz's Flow Pool at Recess. See pictures and read more about it here.


OBJECT: Dead Bodies

BODY OF WATER: All Over


1989

That time at ten when the sunglasses, for which
you felt such pride, slide down your nose and hit
the slow movement of water in the bay, splash, twist,
descend. The way your father watched
and as he held your hand, he said oh no! in mock chagrin
so that — sunlit flash — you remember the day in the aquarium

when a man grabbed your hand and dragged
you across the darkened rooms, the starfish swirling
in kaleidoscopic knots and his hand wrenching
your shoulder as you resisted. You whimpered, yelled,
but nothing sounded in those underwater halls
as if you too were aquatic, mute as a fish, blowing your gills

open and closed, open and closed as schools of humans
parted the way. It was the man who stopped dead like vertigo,
dropped your hand and stood mouthing oh no oh no
I’m sorry, I thought you were mine
. Unrecognizable person
so unlike you, claiming to disclaim, mute mouth aghast,
his face distorted through the light-refracting water and glass. 

2015

Manatees, sea cows made light in the saltwater,
swim up the springs, the temperature always 70 degrees
summer or winter. To cool us in mid-July we enter
as the noon sun slips through moss-covered trees.
She holds the baby aloft. Her husband laughs, snaps photographs,
updates status, Instagram. But from here I wonder at their happiness,  

what comes if it is just display? At the state park we lowered carefully
into the tank. The sea cows swarmed against the glass designed
to give a view of feeding. Now we’re the one’s consigned
to enclosure, their bodies as landscape divided our periphery.
In afternoon humidity above a storm erupted with damning
force. Under the water’s boiling skin the manatees placidly swim. 

And sheltering in that submarine glass it resurfaces: it was your own father him
who put his hand in that girl’s hand and didn’t look and dragged
her through the galleries, brazen serpent, belligerent thug,
child-stealer, unable to recognize his own kin
by touch or scent, and after stood chagrined and apologized to her,
the girl, and not to you, alone, underwater, the unclaimed daughter.


I had intended to write a poem about all of the bodies that end up in the New York City waterways. I was thinking about the strange case of a man named White who murdered his roommate, named Black, in a homeless shelter in the Bronx. For a few days helicopters trolled the Hudson. Then I read that they had found White’s body, apparently the victim of suicide. But this exploration of drowned bodies turned into a litany of the things we submerge and that later emerge again, sometimes in a different form. --Kelly Sullivan


Kelly Sullivan’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in Salmagundi, Poetry Ireland Review, Southword, and elsewhere. She published a novel, Winter Bayou, in Ireland in 2005. She teaches Irish literature at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House. kellyesullivan.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Islands

 

At low tide on Easter Sunday we walk the donkeys

across an chois, the step, to Straw Island, the one time of the year

when new moon and sun converge to make the aquatic

almost terrestrial. The donkeys graze for three months

on marram grass and vetch, birth their foals, drink rain water left

in angled rocks except some years someone forgets

we’ve left them there and drought or storms or geography

constrict so they are half-starved, parched, and try their best

to swim. In 1974 we found their skeletons scattered across

the ground, dry as desert. An chois — the step — because

to step across from Inishmore to the island of straw rests in principle

on the fact that bodies in gravitational pull grow stronger

the closer they come together. And Easter an ancient celebration

of the rising year, when we shift our balance back to day.

Just a step between coming together or falling away.

 

 

This poem derives in large part from a beautiful passage in Tim Robinson’s Stones of Aran Pilgrimage in which he explains the gravitational forces underlying tidal movement, and the practice of taking donkeys out to graze on Straw Island off Inishmore, accessible by sandbar only at the lowest tide of the year. 

Wonder by Robert Brown

BODY OF WATER: Atlantic Ocean 


You dive off the boat tank first.
The flippered feet lie flat then flip
a half circle, like a rush hour fuel gauge
falling from Full to Empty. The fall

should stop on the ocean surface,
but this once I carried too many weights,
and I crashed through 70 feet of sea
water at nine and a half knots,

kicking my fins against the fall,
backwards into my own garden of

seaweed swinging like party streamers,
connecting finally to the the ocean floor.
I nearly stepped on, but did not see,
two crabs pinching claws at one another,

their spidery legs stirring silt, engraving
a cyrillic calligraphy into the dense sand–
an ordinary wonder like an inch-thick
wetsuit and how it compresses at depth,

squeezing me from boot to hood,
or my aluminum air tank, manmade

from melted metal, and how it sinks
softly into my shoulders. I took a deep
breath—of air, 70 feet south of the ocean
surface—I saw and ignored a 7-legged

starfish, and I flipped the release latch
on my weight belt so that it fell to the floor
and I fell upward. I fought against my fall,
again, my ascension this time, trying to slow

down as the water turned from grey to jade,
and my sinuses and ears popped.

The air in my lungs expanded from a deep breath
taken under great pressure so I could breathe out

while my lungs filled up, a banal miracle—like air
travel, printing presses, syringes, cellular

phones: baskets for unending loaves and fishes—
I'm always too mixed up to appreciate.

 


Robert grew up with a hundred-dozen-an-hour donut machine in his basement and has lived in some of the great donut cities in America*, so it's no small thing that his favorite part about coming to NYC, besides the esoterica dredged from the waterways, is the preponderance of great donut shops.

*Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington DC

Yoga on the Sound with Karen by Vincent DiGirolamo

A note from the writer: This one came out of a workshop with Lisa Jarnot, who astutely noted that it has the same rhyme and meter as Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."  A happy accident.


BODY OF WATER: Port Jefferson Harbor


A rainbow of mats on weathered gray slats

         at the end of a jutting pier.

Salt air incense, lapping-water chimes,

         the harbor our studio mirror.

Like sandpipers we stand, one-leg tucked,

         eyes fixed on bobbing white hulls.

Bellies now bend toward a ceiling of cloud,

         odd creatures to high wheeling gulls.

An Azure Blue flutters into view,

         drawn by our Ujjayi breath.

Then Monkey mind leaps to the wharf of my youth

         three thousand miles west.

 

I see papa, forearms thick,

         mending a cork-lined net.

High-booted uncles winch fish by the ton

         and scrub down the slippery deck.

They smoke Lucky Strike, tend bar at night,

         drink Canadian Club on ice.

For exercise they specialize

         in pinochle, bocce, and dice.

I hear them cry, “Vincenzo, che fai?”*

         in steerage voices strong.

What can I say except “Namaste”

         and bow to the ferry’s “Ommm….”

*What are you doing?

 


Vincent DiGirolamo teaches American history at Baruch College. His works include the documentary Monterey’s Boat People, the novel Whispers Under the Wharf, and Crying the News: A History of America’s Newsboys, forthcoming from Oxford University Press. His poems have appeared in The Haven: New Poetry and the Monterey Herald. He lives in East Setauket, New York.    

Particulates by Katy Lederer

These poems were written for a collaboration with the A.I.R. Gallery. Katy Lederer was inspired by artist Maxine Henryson's photography project, "Hudson Everyday," which you can see here.


The top-
ic under-

taken.
Train,

ident-
ify de-

ficiency. The de-
ification in pre-

viously.
Source

of the long
spectral line's

ab-
sorption.

 

*

 

Glow was first
re-

ported.
Band

of sunrise
and the fal-

sest dawn.
De-

scribe to me the dif-
ference in

the struc-
ture of

the truest
dawn.

 

*

 

Light of
false dawn as

the first.
Vital in

Antarctica.
Small

in its ref-
lecting power. Am-

ounts.
Because it part-

icles—the ice is as
a fam-

ily in
phase.

 

*

 

Broad-
ening of

knell.
Indi-

vidual
part-

icles. Broad-
ening ef-

fect. Part-
icle shift. This

ef-
fect the col-

losion of character-
istics.

 

*

 

They are
dif-

ferent from
pro-

min-
ences. They are

phe-
nom-

enon. Under-
lay

the fib-
rils in the interwork

gi-
gantic lakes.

 

*

 

The source as ongoing
condit-

ion, and we re-
emit that atom

roll. Un-
usually changing elect-

ron, quantum
system in a sun-

lit grove. Atomic lines re-
spective with

their mittens in the hydro-
gen. And not a single fre-

quency for
us.

 

*

 

Huge field of
fi-

ery
gas. Fine-

ly in
the fil-

ments. Spic-
ules in

space. Time as
fing-

ered flow-
ing

gas.
The race.

 

*

 

Rather than
simply

up-
on. Macro

self-
ab-

sorption. Ent-
ering large

region.
Process is as

self-
ab-

sorption: spread
of wings.

 

*

 

Bright-
er

cells, phys-
ical

gran
-ules. They look

sim-
ilar. They look

iscil-
lation. And

in pre-
sence of

con-
vection.

 

*

 

Funda-
mental as a

fern. A sin-
gle ten-

sor as
a Lorentz

force. In quant-
inized mag-

netic
force. In-

vis-
ible forc-

es. A cir-
ular mass.

 

*

 

Impact pressure broad-
en-

ing. Like a
mount-

ain. In vel-
ocity.

Emission e-
ffect and an energy

massing. This e-
effect result, ex-

tended shift
en-

hanced and then sup-
ressed.

 

*

 

The source of
astro-

orbit-
al in light-

ening and in gegen-
chein. In

show-
ers, and in

temp-
ests, we

out-
gassed be-

fore the com-
ets burst.

 

*

 

Exo-endo-
zodiac. Hor- 

izon, as an
undersun
.

Moon
at the observatory. Where

and when? Had
always been
.

A piece of bro-
ken

pot-
tery, disc-

arded as
the moon.

 

*

 

Ax-
is of a-

symmetry.
In-

visible
force re-

pels. In its
im-

portant navi-
gation, in re- 

sentment
ele- 

mentary compart-
ments.

 

*

 

In horizontal light they
pointed out the hot

particu-
late.

Exo-
light in

wheel-
ing well and micro-meter

harvest-
ing. Our

micro-
finger-

prints in
dust.

 

*

 

Dor-
mant

twenty
years,

ap-
roaching sacrifice

and meteors. Pro-
ducing

glacial light
in the

la-
guna.

Thus we might
maintain.

 

*

 

Shape and field
de-

scription.
Mag-

netism and phys-
ical force-

s in re-
lation-

ship. Fields
to pre-

fer higher-
er yields, now

what have we come
to.


Katy Lederer is the author of the poetry collections Winter Sex (Verse) and The Heaven-Sent Leaf (BOA Editions), as well as the memoir Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers (Crown), which was a New York Times Book Review "Editor's Choice" and one of Esquire's eight "Best Books of the Year."

Her poetry, essays, and reviews have been published in a diverse array of magazines including Mike and Dale's Younger PoetsThe Paris ReviewThe EnemyThe American Poetry Review, and Poetry London. Recently, she has been writing forThe New Yorker online about economics and climate change.

In her writing, work, and activism, Lederer focuses on the intersection between feeling and analysis, passion and data, and excess and traditional form. For several years, she worked at a quantitative hedge fund in midtown Manhattan. She has also worked as a teacher, anthropological researcher, assistant to the late psychoanalyst Dr. Arnold Cooper, and semi-professional poker player.

Currently, Lederer is at work on a collection of essays around apocalyptic themes, a collection of poetry titled The Engineers on the topics of genetics, autoimmunity, deformity, and motherhood, and a book-length science fictional sonnet sequence titled Polar Bodies: Prayers for Humans and the Earth, which she is hoping will accommodate these new collaborative poems.


Water Isn't Free and Neither Are You by Morgan Parker

This poem was written for a collaboration with the A.I.R. Gallery. Morgan Parker was inspired by artist Erica Stoller's installation, "Floating," which you can see here


When our aunt died
last week, my brother
called to tell me I
would die too. The deep end
is relative, is the first thing
they teach us. River means
nigger. Nigger
means hollow.
Censor means savior.
Curve means come.
Nothing on the Internet
is safe. Everything is
Something, even this
piece of paper.
I never learned to swim
but I went swimming.
once I paid four dollars
for a Perrier. I want the ocean
without danger or cost.
I want to be a name you can
forget. In my life I get
the chills for no reason.
I learn the words
to the new Rihanna prayer.
I arrange myself where
people live. There are rules
for poolsides and empty cups.
Everything means Be Careful.
I roll around in loss, ready for war.
When something dies, I buy a new one.
When I get bored, I close the window.


Morgan Parker is the author of Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (Switchback Books 2015), selected by Eileen Myles for the 2013 Gatewood Prize. Morgan is Cave Canem graduate fellow, winner of a 2016 Pushcart Prize, and poetry editor for The Offing. She also co-curates the Poets With Attitude (PWA) reading series with Tommy Pico, and with Angel Nafis, she is The Other Black Girl Collective. 

 

Cages by Arden Levine

OBJECT: Birdcage

BODY OF WATER: Gowanus Canal


My mother collected antique birdcages. Nature abhors a vacuum
so we filled the cages, first with budgerigars and canaries. They died

and we filled the cages again, with exotic finches that my father chose
and a pair of lovebirds (that detested one another). They died

and we filled the cages again with a grey-cheeked parakeet and a long-
tailed beauty (that didn’t live a year and had the solemnity of a widow).

 My father vacuumed the floor beneath the cages and the parakeet
shrieked, shrieked, shrieked: “Abhor! Abhor! Abhor!” My father died

and we didn’t fill the cages again. We moved, we put the cages
in storage, we moved, we put the cages in the basement. We filled

the basement with other things and discarded the cages. I saw a cage
in the canal: the canal had filled the cage with silt and branches.

The water slapped          slapped                slapped:
                                           Abhor.                  Abhor.                                 Abhor.

 


Arden Levine lives in Brooklyn and is a reader for Epiphany.  In 2015, her poems have been or will be featured in AGNI, Rattle, The Delmarva Review, Bodega Magazine, Emotive Fruition, the NYC Poetry Festival, and elsewhere.  Arden holds an MPA from New York University and consults to nonprofit organizations.

Glass City vs. Bottle Beach by Julia LoFaso

OBJECTS: Bottles, Horse Bones

BODY OF WATER: Dead Horse Bay


 

I once went to a New Year’s Eve party whose host, a burlesque dancer, handed each guest a dinner plate
to smash against a brick wall. I’ve never seen a roomful of people so suddenly awake, so reborn. Of course
that was years ago, before we lost Brooklyn, before they came for Queens.  

This city has a habit of killing its ghosts, but it hasn’t kept up with your haunting.
Even the water hasn’t managed to turn your bottles back to sand.  

Patti Smith protect us. Richard Hell forgive us. Lou Reed let us never forget your ripped nylons, your
drunken plans, how you woke up every morning to eviscerate horses to bone. We want to know how you
failed or succeeded at surviving whatever your life was. But even now, I don’t. All I can do is stab at truth,
waving a bottle, letting it fly, waiting for the head-clearing satisfaction of hearing it break. 

Because we don’t fear wilderness but its opposite: the stripping of secrets, the bleaching of bones, the
relentless building of buildings.

Because we don’t fear Batman but Bruce Wayne: champagne, handshake, deals
behind closed doors.

Warriors, come out to play. Bring back a little reckless to this brave new city. 

We’ve made it to the beach before you. We’re hiding in plain sight, magnified. So slow they can’t see us,
so low they’d never dream of our iridescence. But we are always here, always inching, always covering
ground. We are scrolled messages, signs, and you will come to read us. 

 


Julia LoFaso's writing has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Conjunctions, and The Southeast Review, among other publications. One of her stories was a finalist in The Southeast Review's 2013 World's Best Short-Short Story Contest. She has an MFA from Columbia University and lives in Queens. 

Formica Dinette by Taylor Bond

OBJECT: Formica Dinette

BODY OF WATER: East River


Grandpa taught me how to fish between Fourteenth and Broadway

salt-split line cast towards cement seas, sun-licked, froth spun

tide breaking upon the backs of the sleepless city.

 

The tips of the Empire State Building scraped

the soles of my feet as I swam in the Atlantic

metal spilling salt to the Sound, gliding

above Bowery and boroughs alike.

 

High tide snuck beneath the subway,

lifted it whole off the tracks,

careened it through currents like a toy train

tugged by kelp and seaweed.

 

“Wait to see what bites,” he said,

luring pelagic people

with dreams and nets of steel

and I could see

this was a city of air

above water, roots drilled deep

 

I became a disciple like him

devout to green and blue passages

and the ocean of New York City.

 

We watched as the water became a home

to upright dining chairs and dinner plates

life set to be lived on the rivers of 16th street,

and still we fished.

 


Taylor Bond is a 2014-2015 Lannan Fellow, a writer for FireBack Records, and a freelance photographer. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Anthem, Spilled Ink, Behind The Counter, Wimapog, and The Camel Saloon. Her latest focus is combining digital media with poetry to enhance the narrative experience.