Poem: When You Came Here

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,

Benny’s Burritos,

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

  1. 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. 🙏

    1. 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!

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