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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.

Dead Horse Bay by Adel Souto


I read about Dead Horse Bay while researching odd spots in NYC for my blog, This Hidden City. I had to see it for myself, and visited on Halloween, a little after low tide ended. It was a mild, but windy day. I parked too far, and it took forever for me to find an entrance to the bay. While I did take a few photos, I could hardly believe what I had seen. I returned with my girlfriend the following week, at the most extreme low tide. It was a colder, though less ominous day. I knew my way around this time, and did a bit more exploring. These photos are from both visits.


Adel Souto is a Cuban-born artist, writer, and musician, currently living in Brooklyn. He has released several books, including a “best of” chapbook on the subject of a 30-day vow of silence, and has also translated the works of Spanish poets. His work has been shown in galleries in NYC, Philadelphia, and Miami, as well as in Europe and South America. His music videos have been screened at NYC’s Anthology Film Archives, and he has lectured on the subject of occult influences in photography at NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development's Department of Art and Art Professions. He currently produces the public access TV show, Brooklyn’s Alright If You Like Saxophones.

Funeral Train by Devin Kelly

OBJECT: Freight Train

BODY OF WATER: Hudson River


There were four men on that train in 1865,

and all the other passengers just belongings

and the baggage of stranger souls. A Wednesday

evening. No fog. The signal given as the bridge

divided and the sloop went past. The Catskills

peeking over Peekskill like sad lovers

at a funeral. Two men hoping for a free ride

south from Albany jumping into water

to survive the crash. And the other two

drowning. And all those ignorant travellers

moving or standing miles away not knowing their things

were lost. A book of tintype photographs wearing

at its seams. The faded signature of a father. A stone

smoothed and taken from Lake Tear of the Clouds.

An hour north, a man drunk from whiskey

wandered onto the tracks and was struck.

And from that same train, another man fell

from motion sickness off the car and died.

It was all death that day. Death of memories,

and death of things that hold them. And not even

a chance to reach the city, where some stranger

might have dusted off a shirt now drowned

to dance his wife around a room and make it swirl

with the rhythm and life of things. The next day

the trains ran without delay, as usual, over that narrow

stretch of man-built land that sliced the Hudson

in two, over buoyant belongings and two dead men

finding cause to still float like children playing.

And the mountains rolled and watched, as lovers do,

some mornings, still under sheets, watching each other,

their curves of flesh like earthen things, topographic

and, even in motion, still. Just over a month later,

the train carrying Lincoln’s body rolled slow and forever,

this time north above that thin bridge where such deaths

had occurred. And people gathered at the water

to watch those nine cars pass by. And some lowered

their heads. Just as now, in this city, some stranger dies

at the moment I drop a penny. And I stoop low

and bend my chin, not knowing any circumstance

other than that there are some things worth

taking, and some worth letting go.

 


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.

 

 

Stacked by Jennifer Ray Morell

OBJECT: Two Shipwrecks on Top of Each Other

BODY OF WATER: Hudson River


From our beginning we've been joined, eager to take up the same space, breathe the same air. In our mother, we acted as one. We were almost born stacked, though that couldn't be. Instead we felt a moment of brief separation, a fissure. When the doctor plucked me from my mother, I reached out for my sister. I had never felt alone. 

As girls we slept in bunk beds with matching pillows and sheets, though the colors were transposed. We pulled pillows from the top and threw them to the bottom. We pulled blankets from the bottom and covered the top, until we forgot which set was ours. When I slept on the top, alone, I longed for my sister, throwing a blanket to the bottom bunk and feeling listless until she pulled to let me know she was still there. Sometimes she wouldn’t pull, pretending to be asleep or having vanished completely, and I would listen above the noise of the ceiling fan and cars driving past to hear her quiet breathing. 

If I were one, then I wouldn’t be on the top bunk. If I were one, there wouldn’t be two small desks lining the wall. If I were one, I wouldn’t feel like two. I was afraid to look over the edge to see if she was still there, to see if she ever was. Finally, she would laugh, but only when she heard my breathing change, small cries coming in waves.

I swapped cubbies in school so that ours would be stacked. Our lunches, sweaters, crayons would spill from above to below, mixing and always belonging to two. She would challenge me, trading with others to see if I would follow. High school was the same, and I wished that it was possible to remove the divider between the top and bottom lockers. 

One morning I tugged at my sister's lock after spinning right, left, right and felt resistance. She told me that it was new, that she would offer up the new combination, so I waited. It was our second severing. Later, she was not where we were supposed to meet: by the tree that looked like a deep V. I stepped up to stand in the crook between the two necks, hoping I would see her behind the crowd. I waited until the sky grew orange and pink, then dark, but my sister never appeared. When I got home, she was sitting on the couch, clutched by our mother who cried that I had been missing. “I was waiting for her!” I shouted over her wailing, and through the noise, I heard my sister’s laugh. I dragged my body, anchor and all, up the stairs and to our room. 

I saw that she had forgotten about me, like in those moments after birth when I reached for her, and she lay swaddled, alone. 

That night, in my bunk, the top bunk, I was quiet. I didn't have the words for her, and as I lay there, all I could think of was the bunk collapsing, crushing her beneath me. I thought I'd never be able to sleep. But then dreams came like flipping through a photo album: a wall being ripped from an apartment building like a doll house, people standing above and below but never knowing; a graveyard, coffin above coffin; and then, two ships in the Hudson, colliding and sinking, stacked. 

 


Jennifer Ray Morell is an MFA student in Fiction at The New School. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Sundog Lit, New School Writing, and xoJane.


Scrap Dive by Margaret C. Argiro with Ed Fanuzzi


Editors' note: Scrap Dive is an exhibit created by graduate student Margaret C. Argiro for "The Social Hall: An Oral History Exhibit" at Columbia University on May 1, 2014.  For Scrap Dive, Margaret drew on oral history interviews conducted with Ed Fanuzzi from October 2013 - March 2014, as well as photos and objects from his personal collection. This post is a digitized version of the exhibit.     


Ed Fanuzzi grew up going on scrap drives during WWII, built his first diving helmet at age 11, and since then has collected innumerable items from wrecked ships in the waters around New York City. Most of all, Ed is always searching for gold. This exhibit invites you to take a dive into Ed’s stories and scraps to see if you come up with any gold of your own.


In 2013, Margaret C. Argiro graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in Sociology/Anthropology and an interest writing, began her studies at Columbia University in the Oral History Master of Arts program, and met Ed Fanuzzi through Underwater New York. Margaret and Ed became quick friends, and she is overjoyed to be presenting Ed’s stories and objects today with support from Underwater New York.  On track to graduate in October 2014, Margaret’s thesis will be a creative written work about a firehouse-turned-music hall in her native Columbus, Ohio. Margaret keeps an online audio journal. See it at loiterandlisten.wordpress.com


A Waterside by Tobias Carroll

OBJECT: White Boat

BODY OF WATER: Dead Horse Bay


On the small kitchen table lay a set of objects: a vial of pills that looked prescription but bore no prescription; the scuffed cover of a punk CD of unknown origin; and one of the manuals, the writing on its cardboard cover Sharpie-scrawled and illegible. Like the pills, it had arrived from her mother the previous day. Vera Schiele Obek stood over it all, eyeing the items and wondering what the coming voyage would hold.

Her mother had the unified theory of nostalgia. Her mother toured obscure universities in Europe now, and would occasionally surface in interviews on cult website and newsletters. It was a kind of fame; she had opted for this shadow academia instead of the more accepted avenues in which she’d once traveled. Sometimes Vera would see her mother’s name listed on the covers of still-extant countercultural or psychedelic publications. Sometimes it seemed to her to be the stuff of crankery. On the other hand, the pills, and their undeniable effects. That cascade of memories, of knowledge, of some other self. She was never sure what they were meant to be: a past life, a parallel life; a vision of a life she could have had had she been born into a different skin, a different nation, a different waterside.

And so Vera lived out here on the borders of the Navesink River in a kind of exile. Low-slung buildings and boat slips and the sound of automotive traffic heard from across the water. Her last boyfriend had muttered, “I hate myself sometimes,” in his sleep, and she’d parted ways with him not long after the dozenth time she’d heard it in the midst of wracked snores. She had come to this place six years earlier and had stayed quiet, temping sometimes and sometimes accepting assignments from her mother: rites to be carried out on the water to stifle incursions, to wound the pockets of nostalgia that were born, shimmering, off the coasts of cities and slowly made their way towards buildings and trafficked avenues, promising docile nightmares.

When she had been a child, when her mother’s academic life had been a more traditional one, Vera believed in undiscovered blocks behind the shopping centers they frequented. She believed in gaps and cracks and archways; that there was something mysterious to be found there. A store that sold something unavailable, its proprietor just waiting for the right customer to walk under the jingling bell by the door; or a park on the shores of a secret river. A potentially private miracle. Instead, there was this.

***

The routine had codified by now: the arrival of a manual and the accompanying pills. Vera would drink down one or two of the latter and wait for the memories to come, first in dreams, then to walk among in meditation. And then, on the following day, she would take the boat out to whatever corner of the water had been specified, would carry out some action, and would have the beatific taste of another’s life to walk in, parallels to carry with her and fan out like a prognosticator’s deck.

Her mother had explained it to her once, or at least had gotten there halfway. Her mother had still been developing her theories then; was still salvageably normal. Vera remembered her in her workshop, gloved hands clutching compounds, powders; distilling and combining. “These patterns,” her mother had said to no one in particular. “You can chart them, I think.” At that age, Vera never knew if she was the recipient of these lectures or simply a bystander to something else, a secret progression, a war against a concept given form.

Vera sat at the table and read the manual. Theories of overlay and nostalgia; the notion of displacement, of collective memories, of incursion. Her mother was fond of the word, and had begun using it around Vera’s twenty-first birthday to describe the blossoming, burgeoning vessels that they sought to staunch. In the manual, Vera came across numerous references to ships unearthed from sea floors and ships rebuilt and lost again. Sweden raising the Vasa; the Bounty remade for a World’s Fair long past, then sunk again; tall ships in New York Harbor in 1992. The incursions, her mother wrote, came in the shape of sailing vessels, inconspicuous in their scale. They would reach the shores of the nearest city and spill out of their forms in cryptic light. And the minds of the cities would ebb and wander and grow archaic.

From reading enough of her mother’s handwriting, Vera understood that the pills were a sort of vaccine, an isolated dose of another’s past to keep the false ships’ charm from overwhelming her. She had never actually seen one of the phantom ships; she had seen discolorations in the water, a patch of fungal orange in the Atlantic’s familiar slate-blue, more than once. She didn’t know how she would recognize one if she did see it: from the type in the manual, they were indistinguishable from the real thing save to the touch -- and to touch one was to be bonded to it. The movements of the phantom ships’ phantom crews were sometimes sickly, their forms limited -- but how to judge that against ordinary sameness, ordinary flaws?

Vera swallowed the pill. She would read the manual in its entirety tomorrow. She folded the cover back, black industrial tape serving as binding and fulcrum of the cover’s text both. In the memories summoned by the pill. she stood on the Australian coast and watched an ancient fleet approach. She was herself and she wasn’t; soon, she knew, she would gaze in a mirror, would understand more of her face and her fate. The pills made it easier to understand the influx, the mid-water structures, and the threat that they caused, but the flood of memories that accompanied them left her disoriented, unsure of herself. Sometimes, she was unable to recognize half the items in her home for days.

***

Vera had bought the boat from a fisherman who had told her he was trading up. She had had it for as long as she’d lived there; it was white and fully open, a shade under twenty feet; fast. She lived walking distance from its slip. It could get her as far as she needed to go, which was local; trips that took her close to Manhattan or Long Island had never been required. The chop outside Staten Island echoed off the bottom; it never failed to raise her and drop her and leave her feeling wracked, her inner ear attuned to different rhythms. It seemed a sensible barrier.

Today, that barrier would be crossed. Inside the back cover of the manual, Vera’s mother had written “near Gun Hill,” and “look for the Ironclads.” And so Vera charted a rough course: out to Raritan Bay and north, tracing Staten Island’s coastline and passing beneath the Verrazano. Up the Hudson, past skyscrapers and maritime facilities, and north. And afterwards, refueling, somewhere safe on the trip home.

The following morning, she woke early, bought a sandwich and a few bottles of water from a nearby deli, and walked towards the slip where her boat was stored. The gas tank was full; she removed the boat’s cover and let herself sit for a few minutes, savoring the newborn moments of the morning, the sun still working its way up the sky. In the boat was the bag of food, a cup of coffee, her mother’s manual, materials for stifling the incursion, and the remaining pills.

Vera sat and opened the manual to its last section, the journal entries that her mother had Xeroxed, the usual prelude for manifestoes to come. The first line to catch Vera’s eye was this: “They always embraced the trickster, even when he unhoused them in the name of chaos.” Vera nodded; she would probably read this same sentence in a year or two as part of a properly bound tome. She liked to think of herself as her mother’s first reader, though she knew that this was not the case. A peer reviewer, then. Or someone to pull her from the brink, or someone to be pushed from some kind of precipice.

Soon enough, it was time to cast off, to start the engine, and to begin her journey north with a slow exit from the slips. Not yet a lot of boats on the river, she saw. Good. It would be an unpunctuated trip, at least for the first forty-five minutes: time enough to pass Sandy Hook and head north, into the chop.

The incursion, Vera’s mother had written, was triangulating itself around two sources: the display of a restored early submarine in a Chelsea art gallery and a museum exhibit on Civil War ships elsewhere in the city. This one, she had written, was different; this incursion might be in the early phantom stage, where an echo of a form, the outline of something old and familiar, might be rising.

***

She rode through the swells, shuddering with each of the boat’s collisions with the water’s surface. This was always the question when dealing with water this open: should you take it fast and risk the jostling, the uneasy quarrel from side to side? Or should you go slower and risk drift, aimlessness, a loss of position? She had never tried to reach the city from her home. These broken skips over the water’s darkening surface summoned fear. Her life jacket would certainly keep her afloat, but who might see her out here, stranded, miles from any shoreline, an anonymous crier on the open water? She had never capsized, and hoped never to capsize. She feared taking on water; she feared that one of the boat’s impacts after rocketing from a wave might split the hull open, might serve the same purpose as the capsizing she so dreaded.

Irrational, she knew. Still, rationality wasn’t why she was out here. If she wanted empirical evidence, there were better places to go than to stifle phantom ships looking to wear down the progress of cities. This was where she and her mother parted ways: Vera’s mother had devised measurements and measuring instruments to calculate the degree of the incursion, its rate, its purpose. Not for the first time, Vera wondered if her mother was mad, if the pills were placebo, if this weren’t some long con being pulled on her. Not the best anxiety to have as one’s ship was tossed on the open water.

The eastern coast of Staten Island drew closer, and she turned the boat slightly, her path curving to meet its jagged peaking arch. She hated this sound: the enraged burble of the engine and that rhythmic splash splash splash as she flew over waves and crashed down, again and again, her craft now wobbling, now proceeding straight ahead. It would lurk in her mind even more than the water’s lingering dizziness, the lasting sense of unsteadiness that would come when she returned to land.

Rituals were a large component of her mother’s manuals. They seemed at once ancient and hodgepodge, an improvisational riff on some half-formed idea of what an ancient rite might have been like. There were objects that she would throw into the open water, some of them common, some requiring research, trips to out-of-the-way groceries or orders placed by mailorder. And yet: she’d been told that her trips had been successful. It was, Vera thought, a strange way of being. There was nothing to lose her focus on here, the coastline and the water beckoned. There was never a question of bringing someone along on these trips: her mother, perhaps, but her mother was far away, living in Berlin or Tallinn on some obscure fellowship and fundraising and amassing the monies needed for these sorties. And no, there was no one else.

***

As she passed Governor’s Island, she had a thought that this might not go as easily as she had hoped. The sky seemed an odd shade of blue, saturated and hollow. Something seemed to loom there in the north. She’d checked the forecast, and had seen no sign of storms. As the city’s financial district rose to her right, she dry-swallowed two of the pills. Soon afterwards, she needed to blink before recognizing billboards and signs on Manhattan’s coastline. English, she realized; she was translating it out of English and back into it again. Again she wondered whose memories these were, if they even were memories or simply concepts, a distillation of an identity into something more abstract. A reshaping of her mind’s chemistry.

As she passed beneath the George Washington Bridge, she took another; thirty seconds later, the incursion seemed clear to her, a blossoming where before there had been only discolorations. A change much further along: a miscolored bubble or an egg or the tip of a clay iceberg awaiting form. It loomed; she could see, as she blinked, its afterimages, roots below the water’s surface. Cracks and fissures that spread, that reached out, waiting to envelop. Vera was a thousand feet from it now. She slowed the boat; it still tossed, but in the Hudson the cacophony was less pronounced. She took the ingredients assembled to dispel the incursion in hand and waited to approach.

And then the incursion vanished. No discoloration in the water; no roots or trails beneath her. She ingested another pill, and then another, and it returned to her. Its presence could again be felt; and so she turned the boat and proceeded towards it. As she looked around the landscape,  she noticed an abundance of grey; slowly, it came to her that she was now colorblind. Where once there had been red and green, now there was only an absence, a noncolor that was, in its own way, as disconcerting to her as the putrid shade of the incursion’s stain.

The documents of her mother’s that Vera had read over the years were inconclusive about the source of the incursions. There were hints that they came from some sort of collective mood.  Vera’s mother sometimes suggested other eras; even parallel worlds. Not for the first time, Vera wondered about the source of the pills and the memories that they brought. All of them seemed to come together in her: the Vera she knew; the colorblindness; the other languages that now swam through her mind. A delegation that made an outline around her, and a fluctuation that made that outline shudder.

Once again, the incursion vanished; once again, Vera swallowed a pill and waited for it to reappear, and for something else to follow it and live in her mind. This time, it was memories: a city block with roots rising from the pavement, and a child walking along those streets in early winter. Certain buildings resembled Astor Place; others seemed displaced from the streets around her own home. It was a new city or it was a lost city or it was a false city or it was something remaking itself, something assembling itself, something in the process of becoming. Or the landscape was overtaking her. Or she was being re-entered in the world, that space she once occupied revamped; she thought briefly of home, and four distinct front doors flashed through her mind.

Before her was the incursion. Fifty feet away it loomed, then flickered; another pill brought it back into focus. Vera saw it starting to ghost, saw its essence start to lift, beginning to approximate a ship’s hull, the brackish water lifting like a thin and awful mist. It would have been the hull of something huge, she saw. A tall ship or something stout and military or a fishing boat returning from northern waters. She was at twenty feet now; she pulled the materials from her bag and pitched them at the incursion’s center.

The incursion ossified for a moment: those reaching walls, the harbored structures that reached towards the sky suddenly becoming white, briefly solid, then crumbling into a saltish ash and falling back towards the water. It was done; her elements expired, her pills consumed, the manual no longer needed.

***

There was a slip on her way back, near Sheepshead Bay. She took the boat there slowly; there would be fuel, or there would be somewhere to stop and rest, somewhere to set foot on solid ground and abate the rocking, the constant rocking that pervaded her body. She saw it, that familiar space with Coney Island’s midway in the distance; a series of moorings and ladders and piers, and she recognized the space where her craft would go. She let it drift in, momentum bringing it to the dock; her hands found ropes and tied the boat loosely, foregoing familiar knots, and left it there to rest or to drift. She walked on the pier and she took the piers onto paved-over soil and she stood there in New York, feeling at home; she glimpsed her building not far away and walked towards it; and if someone had called out to her the name Vera Schiele Obek, she would have paid no attention. The day’s journey was over and the sea’s pull on her faded, ebbed, had never been. 


Tobias Carroll is the managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn. His fiction and criticism has recently appeared in The Collagist, Hair Lit, Vol.1, The Fanzine, The Paris Review Daily, Tin House, and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter at @TobiasCarroll.

Discarded Cars on a Beach by Adrian Kinloch

OBJECT: Stripped Cars

BODY OF WATER: Gerritsen Beach


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Artist Statement

As Underwater New Yorkers know, Brooklyn has many beaches, each with their own special qualities. The Marine Park Salt Marsh Center is wedged between Flatbush and Gerritsen Avenue just after Avenue U. As you walk along Gerritsen Beach you begin to realize that there are cars spread all along the water’s edge in various stages of decay. Some are buried up to their axels in sand with the top halves rusted away altogether. You can make out the remains of steering wheels and seats where the waves lap, or see complete but burnt and rusted carcasses in the reeds. I am looking for volunteers to accompany me on a return visit to try and identify the manufacturers and ages of these remains. Believe it or not I do find this a beautiful place to walk, with wide views across the water and bracing winds whipping up the surf. There’s something special about feeling so remote and isolated just a few steps from Flatbush Avenue.


Adrian has been taking photographs since age seven, when his grandfather gave him a 1930s folding-bellows Kodak camera. He grew up in Suffolk, England, and has degrees in visual art and third-world development from Staffordshire University. Adrian currently lives and works in Brooklyn as a graphic designer and photographer. His pictures run regularly in The Brooklyn Paper and have also appeared in New York Magazine, O Magazine, and on BBC.com. He also maintains the photo blog Brit in Brooklyn.

Party Barge in Deep Decline by Elizabeth Albert and Marie Lorenz

OBJECT: Party Barge

BODY OF WATER: Flushing Bay


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Photos by Elizabeth Albert, who joined fellow UNY contributing artist Marie Lorenz on a Tide and Current Taxi excursion to College Point, Queens.


Based in Brooklyn, Marie Lorenz uses handmade boats as artworks; navigating throughout the city’s waterways. Her work includes video, sculpture, and a photographic web journal that documents her exploration. Visit her website to learn more.

 

Elizabeth Albert is a painter and collagist living in Brooklyn, New York. She has received fellowships from the NEA/ Mid-Atlantic Arts Council, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Inc., and the MacDowell Colony and her work is exhibited nationally. She teaches courses in painting, drawing, design, and the art and architecture of New York City at St. Johns University in Queens, New York.

Three Poems by Kristin Maffei


Portrait of the Artist as a Headless Dutch Boy

I carried pails of water once, too.
Seawater, up along the shoreline
to dryer sand.  I picked out seaweed and shells.                   
I do not pour my buckets
into troughs     feed cows         plant bulbs,
but I work in my own way.
I thought
I was a tulip once,
but now I think clearer,                       and I understand you,
small porcelain figure.
We are the same in our way.
White, bloated skin, you are cold and drowned.
Washing up you wanted                     some new life in a cabinet.
Painted smooth,                                  someone thought of art,
stability,          sent you on your way.
Your work is done. Now rest.


 Family-Portrait as Ellis Island Ferry

Call it demolition by neglect.
Call it how cruel can you be when you’re gone
if you’ve gambled that your wife will die
before you or that she won’t but
you won’t be able to care when you’re gone.
Call it my grandmother vomiting
into her bowl, two meals ruined:
the ship over before they flipped
her two eyelids over with buttonhook.
Call it the way my grandfather lost his boat:
low-tide went out and slipped
the bow under a dock. Crushed sails.
Rowing out to the middle of the early morning lake
steam rising off our wake, we stare straight
down in the brown glass-water, strain to see
the Dewdrop, old hotel ferry in our old hotel town,
call it what it is: sunken.


 Portrait of the Artist’s Father as Dentures & Toothbrush

You can get anything you want in Manhattan,
you raved, coming home with your new teeth
just in time for a family vacation to Florida.
Your teeth were like mine – soft, cavity-prone –
when you had them.  Lots of root canals
and bloody floss, but straight and small and white.
When the doctor took them all out, your mouth
swelled up like a drowned, red body. You gagged
until they cut away the back of the false teeth.
Then, you left them around the house tucked
into napkins at dinner or in the car cup-holders.
No one ever wanted to find them.
And when you lost them for good, just before
our trip, you called in sick to work and for $800
you bought a new set, rush delivered, in the city.
And when we came home, and grandma said
she’d found them, under the bed, next to the dog toys,
didn’t we all laugh at the dog wearing your dentures?


Kristin Maffei is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and a first-year MFA student at NYU.  She is an Associate Editor at Oxford University Press and co-founder of the collaborative literary ‘zine Call & Response (www.callandresponsezine.com). Kristin's poetry has been featured in qarrtsiluni, The Little Jackie PaperIn Flux, and on a few buses in Oxfordshire. Her nonfiction work has appeared in a variety of newspapers in Putnam County, NY, and she once wrote a book on horses.

Poem for Allyson by Mike Lala

OBJECT: General Slocum

BODY OF WATEREast River


Watching the construction downtown from my roof

Allyson says it’s a fish decomposing:    

the spotlights a spine             

the floors rib bones piling up across the river.

Gabriel says 1904 the General Slocum caught fire                sunk

one thousand twenty-one of its passengers          

dead en-route to a picnic.

The cause in the forward section         

a lamp-room filled with oil                    rags          and straw.

Then a paint locker                a cabin used to store gasoline.

The captain steering into the wind as passengers moved backwards 

the few children donning life preservers

vanishing in a floe of powdered cork and rotted canvas.

In the 18th and 19th centuries British prison hulks held captives       

in the American      French    Napoleonic revolutions.

More Americans died aboard these ships than in the war itself.

On the shore a hole one or two feet         and all hove in[i]

I drive through Fort Greene on my way to the beach

eat lunch in the park under a column.

It holds a fraction of the dead. I leave bread crust at the base

and pigeons flock down from above Your crumbs for the living;

let the dead eat their own.       Before the fire         the Slocum

struck two ships and a sandbar             ran aground three times

and was the site of a revolt by some 900 Patterson anarchists.

What was recovered was converted into a barge. In 1911

it sank in a storm. Water swells over Battery Park and the Times

runs a photo of a cyclist in the surge. I hold the page above me

the ink runs            cross the bridge looking down on the river

and go unable to imagine the city submerged

the bodies from the HMS Jersey buried half-decomposed

at the level I lie in the sand    waving the flies off.

 

 

 

[i] Attributed to Christopher Vail of Southold, prisoner aboard the HMS Jersey in 1781

 


Michael Lala grew up mostly in the western United States and Tokyo, and studied writing in Michigan. He is the author of the chapbooks [fire!] (forthcoming, [sic] Detroit) and Under the Westward Night (forthcoming, Knickerbocker Circus New York). His poems and text art have appeared or will in the Red Cedar Review, Low Log, Asylum Lake, I Am a Natural Wonder, and GQ Italy online, among others. He curates Fireside Follies, is a founding member of 1441, and lives and works in Brooklyn.

Arthur Kill by Nate Dorr

OBJECTTugboat, Couch

BODY OF WATERArthur Kill


Artist Statement

Arthur Kill, that slim waterway that prevents Staten Island from being part of New Jersey, has a surplus of discarded watercraft. Scuttled, sunken, or just eternally moored. The Rossville Tugboat Graveyard is certainly best known of these sites, but wander the other industrial neighborhoods of western Staten and you’ll find yourself in places like this one: some dozen vessels, ranging from seemingly-operational to scrap-heap, all tucked into a narrow cove hidden from the road by a veil of trees. A hidden salvage yard? Temporary storage inadvertently become long-term? It is difficult to say.


I was dredged out of the Gowanus and deposited in Brooklyn in summer 2004. When computer problems forced me into a musical hiatus shortly after, I found myself wielding a camera with ever increasing frequency until musical concerns were all but forgotten. For the last couple years, I’ve bridged the gap as a photographer and writer for Impose Magazine.

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. www.dolanmorgan.com

Jet Ski and Plastic Purse by Marie Lorenz


“Jet Ski (Outer)” 2011. Hand printed with Sumi ink on Kozo-Shi. 192″ x 144″

“Jet Ski (Outer)” 2011. Hand printed with Sumi ink on Kozo-Shi. 192″ x 144″

“Plastic Purse” 2011. Collograph on Rives deLyn. 8″ x 6″

“Plastic Purse” 2011. Collograph on Rives deLyn. 8″ x 6″

Artist Statement

These two prints are from a series made from objects that I find while exploring in my boat. In some ways I think of printing washed up debris as another way to collaborate with the tidal currents in the harbor.  The harbor takes all these objects and sucks them in, then redistributes them around the shore according to weight, shape and density. Then I come along and do something else with them. I have been making these flotsam prints by inking the object and then pressing paper onto the form. Sometimes I print them right where they lay in the sand and sometimes I bring the objects back to my studio and print them with a printing press. Printing this way is an attempt to record the story that an object tells about itself, about its own travels on the tide.


Based in Brooklyn, Marie Lorenz uses handmade boats as artworks; navigating throughout the city’s waterways. Her work includes video, sculpture, and a photographic web journal that documents her exploration. Visit her website to learn more.

Carcasses by Jill Allyn Peterson

OBJECT: Stripped Cars

BODY OF WATER: East River


carcasses by jill peterson 1.jpg
carcasses by jill peterson 2.jpg

Artist Statement

 Carcasses is about the various cars that have come to their final resting place in the waters surrounding New York City. The movement of the car-shaped plexiglas pieces strung together as a mobile is how I like to imagine these cars slowly sinking down to the bottom.


Jill Allyn Peterson is an artist and designer living in Brooklyn, NY. She received a masters degree in industrial design from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute after attending Hampshire College and studying Fashion Design at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, UK. Between earning degrees, she worked for performing arts and sustainable food non-profit organizations, and at Metropolis Magazine. Jill is currently working on a variety of entrepreneurial design initiatives that you can read about at jillallyn.com.

East River of My Devotion by Lindsay Sullivan


Watch video of Lindsay and her collaborator Doug Keith performing this song at the American Folk Art Museum here

 

Lyrics

I took the sea to the C

searching for ghosts at Dead Horse beach

a ship appeared to me

I swam out so I could see

"Come aboard my darlin

it's the last time I'll be callin

come aboard and sail with me."

We sailed along the water's edge

Brighton Beach over Dreamland

cut right and towards the bridge

first Brooklyn then Manhattan.

"It wont be long my darlin

until you are drownin

and you belong to the sea."

Then the wind began to blow,

lightning struck and hit my boat.

I swam hard but fell below

I sang out to the River, don't let me go.

"You are the waves to my ocean,

East River of my devotion

I'll drink your salt

I'll breathe your sea."

I sunk down onto my knees,

Threw my head down to Her Sandy feet,

I begged Her please to let me breathe,

one breath of Her Salty Sea.

"You are the waves to my ocean,

East River of my devotion

I'll drink your salt

I'll breathe your sea."

<>

And I became the River Bed,

Dead Fish, Stripped Cars and Soda Cans.

River City below Manhattan,

Piano Keys, Submarines and The Princess Ann. 

I am the waves to Your Ocean,

East River of our Devotion.

I drink Your Salt and 

I breathe Your Sea.

Yes I am the waves to Your Ocean,

East River of our Devotion.

I drink Your Salt and 

I breathe Your Sea.


Lindsay Sullivan is a student, yoga and meditation teacher, singer, songwriter and piano player living in Los Angeles. In 2008 she released her debut LP, Long Road Home with her band Clair. 

The Storm by Rachel Dix

OBJECTShipwrecks

BODY OF WATER: All Over


Thomas Chambers, Threatening Sky, Bay of New York, c. 1835-50, Oil on canvas, 18 1/8 x 24 1/4 inches (46 x 61.6 cm), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 365-2008-5, Photo courtesy: Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Thomas Chambers, Threatening Sky, Bay of New York, c. 1835-50, Oil on canvas, 18 1/8 x 24 1/4 inches (46 x 61.6 cm), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 365-2008-5, Photo courtesy: Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

*

A long and frigid plight across

A dark and angry sea

The Captain looked out from the bough

“A mighty storm,” said he

“A mighty storm to shake these men

A storm the sea must free.”

He placed his hands along the rail,

“A mighty storm,” said he.

*

The lookout was uneasy

For he could not find the shore

And with a deep conviction cried

“We have no place to moor!”

The men all murmured hushedly

What God forsake them for,

Though they received no answer but

The thunder’s distant roar.

*

A livid wind scaled the deck

And set the sails to rise

It bit the men with savage teeth

And stung their reddened eyes.

It rose above them, loud and clear,

With woeful, angry cries

It threw the crew from mast to rud

And churned up darkened skies.

*

The purple, bitter waves amassed

With foamy frothy ends

A man who tumbled from the stern

Was lost in wat’ry bends

The priest aboard consoled the crew

“We come when Jesus sends!

We are but lambs who ran astray

From flocks the dear Lord tends.”

*

Boom! … Crack!

“We’ve come to New York Bay!

I know these are the Narrows men,

If only one more day

Had passed before our jaunt began

We’d surely be okay.”

Their sides heaved at the irony

Their sides heaved with dismay.

*

The boards began an anguished groan

The hull began to fill

The sounds of waves and thunder

Overwhelmed the senses till

The men no longer fought it,

And instead embraced the chill

With stony faces, callused hearts,

And one united will

***

The day broke in an eerie calm

The sky was pink and blank

The shoreline was announced ahead

By the buoys’ clank

And all the remnants of the men,

Of the mighty ship that sank

Was floating on the languid sea:

A lone, and simple plank.


Rachel Dix is a sixteen-year-old sophomore at George Mason High School in Northern Virginia. She’s an aspiring actress, and very interested in the arts and humanities. She plans on going to college to major in theater or marine biology, or maybe even English. She’s been writing poetry since she was nine years old, and her poem, The Storm, is the winning entry for the Underwater New York Shipwreck Story Contest.

Once (Always) by Kate Overgaard

OBJECT: Ice Cream Trucks

BODY OF WATER: The Rockaways


Lost boy,

Shipwreck in my life.

When your little hand found mine,

Suddenly

We were home,

You and I,

Meant to be

Tied with a seemingly tenuous knot,

Not of blood or biology,

But meant to be.

The current

Dragged you under and away

And—eyes closed—

My fingers released you.

Leaving me to drown in the loss of you,

Never to utter goodbye to you.

A rusted reef of ice cream whispers

In the depths of the Rockaways,

Cradled in the cool waves

Around my beating heart,

Still drowning.


Kate Overgaard is an English teacher who holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She lives in New Jersey.

To the Thirsty I Will Give Water by Alex Dimitrov

OBJECT: Volvo 

BODY OF WATER: Gowanus Canal


Yesterday morning while I read Montaigne
a man drove his car into the Gowanus canal.

I have never seen a greater monster or miracle
than myself, Montaigne wrote in the late 16th century.

It was a bright day.
The sun forgave no one.

Not even the firefighter who first saw
the car taken by the water while he was praying,

lighting a cigarette, remembering his lover’s face—
what was he doing, what did he think of before diving in?

It is not death, it is dying
that alarms me, Montaigne tells us.

Because he swallowed enough black water during the rescue
the firefighter was given two Hepatitis B shots afterward.

The man who lost his car was given his life back.
We were given Montaigne’s heart

which is preserved in the parish church named after him
in the southwest of France.

We were given more than we can drown.


Alex Dimitrov is the author of Begging for It, published by Four Way Books. He is also the founder of Wilde Boys, a queer poetry salon in New York City. Dimitrov’s poems have been published in PoetryThe Yale Review, Kenyon ReviewSlatePoetry DailyTin HouseBoston Review, and the American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize in 2011. He is also the author of American Boys, an e-chapbook published by Floating Wolf Quarterly in 2012. Dimitrov is the Content Editor at the Academy of American Poets, teaches creative writing at Rutgers University, and frequently writes for Poets & Writers.

Waterway by Colette Murphy

OBJECT: Shipwrecks

BODY OF WATER: Hudson River


“Home,” Acrylic &amp; bleach on linen, 46″x60″, 2009

“Home,” Acrylic & bleach on linen, 46″x60″, 2009

“Poaching,” Acrylic &amp; bleach on linen, 36″x60″, 2009.

“Poaching,” Acrylic & bleach on linen, 36″x60″, 2009.


“Great Island III,” Acrylic and linen, 76″x76″, 2009

“Great Island III,” Acrylic and linen, 76″x76″, 2009

Artist Statement

This body of work required a search for something real and sustainable both in the physical construction of the work and the images I chose. The image of the shipwreck became a tangible object as a metaphor for our fragile state as a society. The appeal of these large, well constructed, man-made objects came from their use as war tanks. Built with a persuasion for life everlasting and yet against the force of nature they crumble and are swallowed. The catastrophe has a peaceful ending. With a desire to return to more meager means of survival or serenity I drown in the silence of the water’s vibration. The materials I choose are in their most unpolished form i.e. raw linen, dirty paint water and pencil, a direct contrast to the indulgence of our society. A return to landscape painting reveals an environment depleted by its previous inhabitants. The landscape has inherited our deserted presence. The vine of growth attempts to strangle the throne which once seated the king. Waterways swallowed the objects abandoned from their former days of glory. Decay is losing ground as the paint soaks the last breath of color from its falling days of grace. As an artist I am committed to recording the world as it is, unedited. It is not the event that I am interested in, rather the perception of the event. The details of the decline are glorious, the devastation sublime. The silence of language and the absence of people is the world revealed in my work. The aftermath is a desire for something more but the threatening future possesses me and the work that I make.


Colette Murphy is a painter who lives and works in Brooklyn. She holds an MFA from Hunter College. In 2009, she exhibited in “Personally Political—Contemporary Sensation,”at Art House Tacles, Berlin. She also showed with “PARLOUR.” No 6 “Watery Grave” in Staten Island. In 2008, she exhibited at Dean Project, LIC, APW Gallery, and Hunter College Times Square in New York City, as well as at the Scope Art Fair in London and in the Hamptons. In 2004, she exhibited at The Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery at Hunter College. She has been published in New American Paintings, Feb-March Edition, 2009.  She was the recipient of the Estelle Levy Award in 2008 and the Tony Smith Award 2009.