The city is full of sudden plantlife, unexpected oases surrounded by buildings, sidewalks, streets, schools, gates. A potted plant outside a doorway, a vibrant treewell, a median full of flowers, a community garden. A classroom for curious students, a delight for the eyes of a walker, a home for busy squirrels, chattering birds.
colors change between
here and now—they are only
made of light you know—
each shining moment has waves–
none of them ever repeat
I’ve photographed this beautiful gate and looked inside at the garden many times, but I never knew anything about it until I stopped and read the sign on the Amsterdam Avenue side. To be fair, it’s partly covered by a tree branch, and the benches below it are often full of people chatting or just resting along their way. What I discovered is that it’s part of the high school down the block, the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers. An outdoor classroom! I like that idea.
The gate itself has wonderful details, reflecting the focus of the space inside.
The students evidently open the gates to the community on occasion to share both their knowledge and what they have grown. I will keep a lookout for announcements of such an occasion in neighborhood newsletters. You can read more about it here.
The poem is my first attempt at Tanka Prose, as prompted by Colleen for #TankaTuesday.
And here’s a look at Riverside Park, which has finally decided it’s Autumn in New York.
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a young farmer dressed in
blue—more likely to discover
through illness than in the heat of
battle—but death is death,
and war knows no
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, in Riverside Park, is a memorial to the Union soldiers and sailors who fought in the Civil War. Designed by brothers Charles and Arthur Stoughton, with sculptures by Paul E M DuBoy, it was dedicated in 1902.
It has been in bad need of repair for many years. Despite several attempts by local officials to allocate money in the city budget, the monument remains fenced off, “awaiting funding”.
Nearly 100 feet high, it was patterned after the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens. Surrounding smaller monuments contain lists of New York volunteer regiments that served in the war, as well as the names of Union generals and battles.
I took these photos on two separate occasions, one a mid-morning last summer, and one on a recent early morning. The light was strange and kept changing on the recent day, at least as it appeared in the photos. It didn’t seem so at the time.
There are also three cannons on the walk way leading up to the monument.
While doing research on the Civil War troops, I discovered that most were farmers in their 20s, and that the Union soldiers were much more likely to die of disease than battle, as the camps were overcrowded and unsanitary. The reverse was true for those who served in the Rebel army–most of them died while fighting.
My poem was written for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday–the prompt was to use the butterfly cinquain form, and include a color in the text. But it was also written in remembrance, on this Veteran’s Day, for all those who have served their countries in the hopes of defending the dream of a free and just world for all.
As always, you can join in Thursday doors here.
of course things
change—never the same–
what seems to
travels through what was not there
to new forms other
shadows faint voices almost
glimpsed through altered light
I remember when Claremont Stables, on West 89th Street, was full of horses and you saw riders frequently in Central Park. Now the bridal paths are used for walking.
I did see a policeman on a horse the other day–but it’s been a long time since I saw anyone else on horseback in the city.
Although once scheduled for demolition as part of a “renewal” project, the building was landmarked in 1990 and thus spared. I think the architecture is definitely worth preserving.
Built in the late 1800s and closed in 2007, the stables are now part of a school, with Ballet Hispanico occupying the next door building.
Claremont Riding Academy has its own Wikipedia page where you can read a bit more about the history of the building.
My poem, a shadorma, is once again is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, poet’s choice.
And as always, you can join in Thursday doors here.
skies are grey now, days
shorter, winter closing in–
a bit of color
in a window, orange glow
reaches out, warms with its light
A tanka for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday where Harmony Kent provide this week’s theme of kindness. This window brightens my day every time I pass by.
The spirit of the season is evident everywhere I walk too. I want to particularly mention West 87th Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive. Here’s a selection of Halloween doors. Enjoy!
And a tree.
You can join in Thursday doors here.
bowed over the door–
permeate the door
the bethel door
cast in echos–
behind the echos the door waits, bathed in light—luminous
Holy Trinity Church has wonderful doors–above is a close up of one of the three main entrances. But the rectory doors are also beautiful–and the gate to the parish center, and the side door too.
One of the homeless men waiting for the parish center to open particularly wanted me to photo the statue inside. So I did.
My poem is a tritina, a form I haven’t attempted in a long time, for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, where Willow Willers provided the synonym words, twilight and hue.
In other (excellent!) news, Nina drove into the city for a visit and lunch–we haven’t seen each other since January 2020. She brought me a wonderful pot of succulents, which I put by the window in my workspace. What a treat, on all counts. She promises to post something soon.
And here are some of the flowers now blooming in Riverside Park. It’s still quite warm, and they seem to like it.
You can join in Thursday doors here.
“The forests are getting silent”
–Hanna Mounce, Maui Forest Bird Recovery
always more words, less
vast human wasteland
Eight birds from the Hawaiian Islands were on the official extinction list released by wildlife officials last week. Honeycreepers, descended from finches, are only found in Hawaii and have been losing species ever since explorers started bringing in invasive animals and diseases and destroying habitat in order to profit from the land.
Almost all the remaining honeycreepers are endangered. Besides their visual beauty, they pollinate native plants and keep insect populations under control.
Mosquitos, which are not native to the islands and arrived in the early 1800s, are one of the biggest dangers. They are hard to control and impossible to eliminate. The Avian Malaria and Avian Pox they brought has decimated the lower forest dwelling birds. As honeycreepers have retreated to higher elevations, climate change has followed them, raising the temperatures of the upper forests to levels that mosquitos can tolerate. The Maui Forest Recovery Project is working to save forest habitats and the plants and animals that live in its unique ecosystem.
I’ve written a shadorma this week for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday, poet’s choice.
the crunch of footsteps
clear blue sky
reflecting the rain
changeable skywind spatters
colors patterned light
full moon of autumn appears
leaves too soon amidst hopes of endless harvest
fragments linger, gold glittering
stars remember every invisible map
imprinted on the approaching dark
earth saturated with bonfires and bones
Two haiku and a sevenling for October and Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday theme, suggested by Franci Hoffman, the harvest moon. The photos are of September’s full moon traveling across the southern sky outside my window. In the first one, it’s half reflected on the window pane.
The artwork is the first page, front and back, of a handmade paper journal I bought on Etsy. I bought three, one each for myself and my sisters-in-law, as we all have great intentions to do art journals–and hopefully this will get us going. I painted the page, and stitched over the front with a technique I’ve been wanting to try. Since the color bled through the paper, I did a small autumn grid on the back.
an enclosure without an opening–
doorways poised between
not-here and not-there
bones left as signs, portents–
bordering a journey
not memories—those are too real
Merril Smith provided the above image prompt, by Benton Spruance, for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday this week. I’ve written another sevenling poem in response.
I’ve been collecting what I call phantom doors and windows for awhile now, and Spruance’s image of 30s home foreclosure fits well with these haunted spaces.
Is something being kept in or something left out?
You can join in Thursday doors here.
mark not words, but boundaries–
you call them kindred
because they verge on your dreams
waves of receding
spirits returning like stars,
still and glittering
naked and exposed inside the lens of your life
My first sevenling poem, for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenge with synonyms for family and peace.
I took the above photo on Broadway, somewhere in the 80s I think. If you look closely you can see my headless figure.
This door belongs to a Con Ed substation at 110th and Amsterdam. The building itself is unmemorable, but I like the design of the door.
I spotted these flowers a few weeks ago when walking in Riverside Park. I had never seen what I thought to be an oak tree flowering before.
I could not figure out its identity until this weekend I saw it had seed pods. They were instantly identifiable online–jimson weed.
A toxic member of the nightshade family, although it does have medicinal and hallucinogenic uses. Evidently animals know to steer clear, but humans fall prey to its effects on a regular basis, not always accidentally.
And I wanted to share the view of the tower of light taken from my window Saturday night.
You can join in Thursday doors here.
looking for doors looking
for ways to connect
one with another–
walking and looking
for the one door that becomes the center,
the pivot that marks where I turn around
should I retrace my path?
or sit for awhile
and consider how
I came to be here,
thinking of all the doors I haven’t seen–
they are not lost—just waiting to be found
I photographed this mansion on Riverside Drive awhile ago, but my front views were not very good, so I made a special trip back to photograph the front again.
You can’t get close to the front, but the side, on West 89th Street, is very accessible–you can even drive into the doorway.
Built by Isaac Rice, an attorney and investor, in the early 1900s, in 1907 it was sold to cigarette manufacturer Solomon Schinasi, and then to a Yeshiva in 1954. There was a huge battle in 1980 over whether it should be landmarked or sold to a developer who would have knocked it down and built another highrise–Landmarks won out, and it remains a cash-strapped school.
And see more Thursday Doors here. Although Dan is on vacation this week, there are lots of previous posts to peruse.