New York is strange that way
shedding shops and
birthing new buildings,
all while you’re
waiting to cross a street or
watching a parade roll by.
In the years since you’ve been here
violent waves of gentrification
have washed over the land
you once knew.
It seems to some like
a shot to the concrete heart
but is a death much slower
change strangling livelihoods
so you’re left to mourn
your favorite places
McLoughlin’s and Boyle’s Bar,
the deli around the corner
with the nice man from Pakistan,
as the paint dries
and the sun winks
at the streets.
New Yorkers are strange that way
missing the ways things were
forgetting the ways
they’ve changed shape
to find a place
in this endless puzzle
of nine million people.
But under the layers of soot and grime
in the rare moments of quiet
between sirens and shouts
in the early hours of morning
when the buses sleep in Jersey
and the Hudson flows in silence
you can find exactly who you were
when you came here.
Dedicated to Papa, my favorite New Yorker
6 thoughts on “Poem: When You Came Here”
A striking parallel to San Francisco, where landmarks and gathering places have been lost to gentrification. We lost the Punchline, a famous comedy club of 40 years just recently. Tonight I sat at the bar having drinks with a friend As told me of the many longtime businesses that have become empty over the past year. A neighborhood where 25% of all retail space is now vacant. Anyhow, wonderful stuff as usual, always love reading your work when receiving random email digests of WordPress content. Thanks much. 🙏
Thanks for your comment Enoch and sorry to hear about the Punchline. It seems San Francisco is experiencing gentrification even more rapidly than NY. Hope you’re doing well and congrats on the new job!
Very nice! Hope all is well with you, Sara.
Thank you Scott! Hope you’re doing well.
Your words create a beautiful picture in my mind of NYC then and now.
Thanks for your comment, Mary! Hope you are well.