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Six Happiness (Thursday Doors)

Her life was overflowing red,
painting absence into corners.
How much joy can one hold? she said–
it’s crossed over every border.
I can taste the good luck, the wealth–
like chili peppers—hot, untamed.
Mix it with longevity, health–

the Phoenix rises scarlet, flamed.

I’ve always been intrigued by this Six Happiness door, which belongs to an Asian Fusion restaurant, although I think the door is older than this iteration of Chinese Food. They have a pleasant outdoor dining space too.

It was only when doing research for this post that I discovered this is the back side of The Endicott, a co-op apartment building that was formerly a hotel. It takes up the entire block between 81st and 82nd street on Columbus Avenue.

The actual apartment entrance, on 81st Street, is imposing, but not as memorable as Six Happiness. Storefronts along Columbus Avenue include a Starbucks, a branch of the Strand Bookstore, a restaurant, and several clothing stores.

The Endicott Hotel was built in 1890. The architect was Edward L Angell, who designed the brownstones in my Juliet Balcony post. In the early 1900s, it served as a meeting place for “society” and the city’s Republican Party. Plagued by disasters, scandals, and money problems, it became a center for organized crime in the 1930s. The 60s and 70s saw its deterioration, along with much of the neighborhood, into a welfare hotel that was the scene of many violent crimes.

One positive note: it was also the site of the NY Dolls’ first public performance.

In the 1980s, again like many of the buildings on the Upper West Side, The Endicott was renovated and converted into luxury co-op apartments, as part of the re-gentrification of New York. It has since been landmarked, so the ornamentation and window guardians will be preserved.

The Endicott Hotel has its own Wikipedia page, if you want a more detailed history.

The poem is a Dizain for Muri’s W3 prompt, which asks us to write from the perspective of someone with synethesia.

I learn new things with every one of these posts. In Chinese culture, there are Five Happinesses–variously called, in the course of my research, good luck, joy, happiness, prosperity, wealth, harmony, longevity, good life, blessings, fertility, virtue, health, and peaceful death. And all things related to joy and happiness are associated with the color red, the most auspicious of Chinese colors. And also the color of the auspicious Phoenix and its fire.

The Sixth Happiness? –evidently, that’s the one you discover within yourself.

Visit Dan Antion, the host of Thursday Doors, here, to see more doors and add some of your own.

9/11/2022

remember—(breathe)–
sky clear crisp blue–
time stands still once again–
ghostname voices–
bone rattled leaves–
bottomless sings the wind

I’ve rearranged some of my previous poetry from 9/11 into a Laurette poem for Muri’s scavenger hunt. Images also from past posts.

Faith, Hope, Love (Thursday Doors on Friday)

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
–1 Corinthians 13:13

Love brings together what is in danger of falling apart.  Love supports what is in danger of falling down.  Love extends itself to embrace those who are in danger of being lost.

Love can be expressed through ritual, repetition, ceremony.  Love can be expressed through music, words, movement, art.  Love can be expressed through sight, sound, touch. 

Love enlarges its container, its vessel, its heart.  Love fills what is empty, feeds what is hungry, connects and includes.  Love is doing but also being.

Love trusts and is trustworthy.  Love opens doors, lets in light, reveals truth.  Love always answers need in the affirmative:  yes.

When I entered this room in the Jewish Museum I was stopped by the beauty of the far wall. I recognized right away the work of Kehinde Wiley on the left, and was captivated by its juxtaposition with the Torah Ark on the right and the shadows cast by the room’s lighting. No one else entered the room while I was there, providing me with an intimate experience of the presence of spirit that the room evoked.

A Torah Ark is a cabinet constructed to hold the Torah scrolls in a synagogue. The doors are opened only to remove the Torah for prayers and the reading of scripture. When the scrolls are returned to the Ark, the doors are once again closed.

This Ark, beautifully carved by Abraham Shulkin in 1899, was originally located in Adath Yeshurin Synagogue in Sioux City, Iowa. Shulkin was a Russian immigrant who included elements of the folk art ornamentation of his birthplace in the design, which was common in Eastern Europe Arks of the 18th and 19th centuries. None of the wooden Torah Arks of this style in Eastern Europe survived World War II.

Kehinde Wiley’s painting is part of his “World Stage” series, in which he “inserts images of people of color from around the world into the Western tradition of portraiture”. This is a portrait of Alios Itzhak, an Ethiopian Israeli Jew. The work includes many of the ornamental images found on the Torah Ark, providing both an echo and a mirror.

I have a soft spot for the work of Kehinde Wiley. You can read about it in one of my previous posts, here.

And learn more about this Torah Ark here.

My poem was written for the W3 prompt, where Britta asked us to respond to her poem “Boots on the ground”, with a prose poem on the subject of love. Fortuitously and quite by accident, it also answers Bjorn’s dVerse prompt for a poem that includes our own aphorisms.

And as always look for more doors and share your own here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion.

Blue Tailed Bee Eater (draw a bird day)

bridge of wings
joyful rainbow dance
skysinging
feathered light
into fields of energy
embodied spirit

Bee eaters are, not surprisingly, often called rainbow birds. The blue tailed bee eater is a resident of South and Southeast Asia, preferring open habitats near water. Like swallows, they eat insects on the wing, especially bees, wasps, hornets, and dragonflies. During breeding season they also eat shells and sand for calcium.

Bee eaters live in extended families of up to four generations in complex social systems of 100-200 birds. Known for their cooperative behavior, they build their nests in tunnels in sand banks, alternating between being breeders and helpers from season to season. This ensures that more chicks survive to adulthood.

Once again I’ve used Colleen’s #TankaTuesday #Taste the Rainbow prompt to write a shadorma about this beautiful and colorful bird.

Jimson Weed 2022

I missed the flow’ring of the weed–
my photo shows instead the seed.
It did return this year indeed
to Riverside Drive.

You may remember that last year I was surprised to find jimson weed growing by a tree planted near 96th Street on Riverside Drive. The Parks Department cleared all the growth around the trees sometime in October (hopefully wearing gloves!) and I wondered if it would return this year. Below are my first sightings, taken in early and mid-August.

I didn’t get back to photo it until the end of August, when I took the above photos. I had missed the flowers! But there was a seed. Below is a flower photo from last year’s plant.

But my last year photos were from September, so maybe it will have a second flowering this year. I’ll try to check on it from time to time.

My poem, for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday Share your Day theme, is an Ovi, as conveniently suggested by Muri in her scavenger hunt of “name” forms.

And here are some other photos from my walk through Riverside Park. That’s New Jersey across the river.

You can read all about jimson weed here.

September 2022

end of summer–
still sweltering and tired
of the relentless sun

gratis, an impulse to channel
ancient oceanic immersion
keeps me company

I draw on memories
of sand as floor,
the harmony of waves

water flashes through me
like a train I’ve boarded
that has abandoned its tracks

adjoining these ruminations
is an unmasked eagerness
for the refreshing chill of autumn

but I wonder if the shape
of the year still exists–
or if it will always be now

flooded, burning at the edges–
marching into the pages of a book
we didn’t mean to write

I consulted the Oracle 2 words Jane generated this week for my September circle/grid poem. The shape of time seems to get more distorted by the day.

aka The Evelyn (Thursday Doors)

Who was the first to embellish their shelter?  I imagine a bird, gathering material –sturdy and warm, but what’s this?—also eye-catching–to build a secure place to raise their family.  Practical, useful, yet at the same time pleasing in a way that lies beyond rational thought.

Humans often stray too far beyond logic in their abodes, valuing ornament over comfort.  But there is delight in beauty. 

As I walk the city streets, examining and photographing the buildings I pass, I not only think about the exterior décor, but what exists behind the façade, inside.  Who lives there?  What stories can these walls tell?

late summer light is
harsh, sharp with lingered shadows–
autumn ghosts await

101 West 78 Street, “aka 380-384 Columbus Avenue aka The Eveylyn” (as Landmarks put it in their Historic District designation), was planned as a luxury building by developer James O’Friel in the late 1800s, and has undergone a recent renovation to make it (supposedly) even more luxurious for the 2000s. The original architect, responsible for the terracotta embellishments, was Emil Gruwe, although after O’Friel went bankrupt and sold the building additional stories were added by architects Douglas and John Jardine.

The actual entrance to the building, on 78th Street, doesn’t have the cachet of the Columbus Avenue storefront, which may have originally been a restaurant, as one article I read said it had one when it was built. Now it’s an empty storefront, vacant since the building-wide renovation began.

Here’s some close ups of the terracotta above the doorway. An angel, cherubs, possibly griffins.

The corner windows on Columbus Avenue also have similar figures. The door to the right of them, made by extending a window, evidently caused a lot of controversy when it was constructed. At least they were not allowed to remove the terracotta embellishments, which they wanted to do at the same time. And now the building is in the Historic District, so it will hopefully be protected from further exterior changes.

Some of the 78 Street corner windows have guardians.

and more angels. If you’re interested in a detailed history of this building and its residents, which included deaths and suicides, marital scandals, at least one pyramid scheme, and a ransom attempt, the Daytonian has a great article that you can find here.

My haibun is in answer to Mish’s dverse prompt on the subject of shelter. I’m probably too late for Mr. Linky, but couldn’t resist using it for Thursday Doors. Which you can find, as always, with host Dan Antion, here.

Oh, and there’s still one newly renovated apartment available, if you have an extra 10 million…

The Lolita (Thursday Doors)

Lolita–
Maria de los
Dolores–
Mary, Full
of Sorrows—reclaim your name–
become who you are

The Lolita, 227 Central Park West, is another building I’ve walked by many times without paying much attention to it. I was sitting on a bench across the street drinking coffee and something on the facade caught my attention–was that a face? I picked up my phone and snapped a 10x photo–yes! it was.

The door, which is on the side street, is handsome, but unless you are looking closely, up, you could easily, as I had, miss all the beautiful ornamental details above.

Designed by architects Thom and Wilson in 1888, The Lolita is the second oldest co-op on Central park West (the Dakota is the first). I could find no history as to why it was named The Lolita–this was long before Nabokov–but even without that association it seems a strange choice. Lolita is a diminutive of Dolores which means “sorrows”. Not an auspicious name.

Thom and Wilson were considered pedestrian architects, but they designed hundreds of buildings known for their terracotta details and ornaments that “contribute to the special architectural and historic character of the Upper West Side.” I’m sure I’ve photographed many of them in my wanderings–I’ll have to look again now that I have a list from the Landmarks website.

Lolita reached its highest popularity as a girls name in the United States in the 1960s. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for the owners of the name to disentangle it from the shadow of Nabokov. And Lola, another diminutive of Dolores, will never be free of the Kinks.

One other note–there’s an apartment for sale in the building for just under 5 million(!) dollars. it’s true it has a view of the park, but still…even for someone used to NYC real estate that seems somewhat unbelievable.

And, as always, find more doors here with host Dan Antion.

Lamassu (Thursday Doors)

Plant your sacred trees in all the corners of this town–
Confront the evil that attempts to cross our threshold.
Send us the divine spirits of your starmother, your starfather–
O Lamassu, keep the hideous demons from this door.

Help us to remember our history–
Give us courage to continue despite our fearful hearts–
Hold us in the net of your living landscape–
Plant your sacred trees in all the corners of this town.

Lift the veils that seek only to deceive us-
Challenge those who wish to conquer us with lies–
Give strength to the voiceless, the threatened, the condemned—
Confront the evil that attempts to cross our threshold.

Lend us your wings and your presence–
Converge us with the cosmos—evanescent, light–
Make us whole again—
Send us the divine spirits of your starmother, your starfather.

Join us with the ever-turning wheel–
Four to mark the seasons, components of the soul–
Guard the elements of justice, our foundation–
O Lamassu, keep the hideous demons from this door.

Door guardians have been around for a long time. This re-creation of an Assyrian palace entrance in the Metropolitan Museum of Art dates from 860 BC. The guardians here are representations of Lamassu, a hybrid protective deity, combining four elements–lion, bull, eagle, and human. Later adapted by both Judaism (as Kerubim) and Christianity (as symbols of the four Evangelists)–these components also appear on the Wheel of Fortune Tarot card–pairs of Lamassu figures were often seen flanking both town gates and palace doors in Assyria. Representations were also buried under thresholds of house doors to keep evil spirits and demons out.

The sacred trees that are accompanied by magical beings on the walls of the palace are known to be important to Assyrian ritual, although the exact meaning of them is still a mystery. They were often placed in the corners of rooms as protections, since corners, like doorways, were considered vulnerable to penetrations by demons.

Lamassu are said to be the embodiment of the divine principles associated with human celestial origins, the children of stars. They are rendered with five legs so they appear to be both standing from the front and walking from the side.

The palace walls also contained scenes of the King performing rituals.

My poem is in answer to Punam’s W3 prompt for a cascade poem containing personification, with the theme of freedom. I also used Jane’s Oracle 2 generated wordlist as inspiration.

I forgot that Thursday Doors was on vacation this week, but you can always find doors from past weeks here with host Dan Antion.

Poseidon Laughs (Thursday Doors)

Restless, this sea–
rising, falling–
no boundaries.
It has always
been so—always.
Man builds, rebuilds,
makes his own map.
Poseidon laughs.
The wind surges,
the waves reclaim–
restless, this sea.

We stayed in the town of Rodanthe on Hatteras Island this year. It was in the news in May when two houses collapsed into the ocean after a storm.

The section where we were staying was primarily year-round residents, so the houses were mostly set back, away from the dunes. But walking up and down the beach we could see many houses practically in the water, or sometimes actually in the water at high tide. While we were there, the aqua house above was fenced off in preparation for its removal. The house next door had already been taken down.

Here’s one being held up by scaffolding.

When we first started going to the Outer Banks, 35 years ago, the houses were small, and built well off the beach. Now the new houses are all huge, with a premium fee for being right by the ocean. But the coast on a barrier island is always in flux, even without the hurricanes that are becoming more frequent.

Part of the island is a protected wildlife refuge, and the shoreline is managed by the National Park Service, but it’s difficult to control the strain caused by the continued private development. Tourism is the main source of tax revenue for the island, so the local government is not willing to put any brakes on it.

Shoring up the dunes with more sand is expensive and temporary. There will always be more storms.

This is low tide–you have to swim through at high tide.

You can see the houses falling into the ocean here:

https://thehill.com/changing-america/sustainability/environment/3484789-watch-houses-falling-into-the-ocean-in-north-carolina/

My poem is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, where Yvette Calleiro selected a form that Gwen Plano created, called the 4-11, for us to try.

And, as always, find more doors here with host Dan Antion.