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Coney Island

Coney Island 1980. Photo © Barry Yanowitz via flickr

Coney Island

Created by Betty from the JASA poets in Coney Island, on June 15th, 2011 with Amanda Deutch and Gary Glazner of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project.

So much happened in Coney Island.
My mother never had to look for me.
Some people didn’t think much of Coney Island.
My mother said, “If you meet a good boy, don’t tell him you are from Coney Island.”
One time I had a date, I was very nervous,
I got off at Avenue U so he wouldn’t know where I was from.

I was happy to be from Coney Island.
The people are friendly and nice.
It’s a beautiful place to live.
The story of how Nathan’s began is interesting.
She made some Knishes.

I was always an outside girl.
I lived close to Neptune and Surf.
I walked on the sand.
I walked by the ocean in my boots.
On the coldest days we sat on the rocks.
On the coldest days that’s what we did.
You can even have a story about the pier.
I used to watch them fish.

When I was married on Mermaid there was a rainbow in the window.
I used to see a rainbow from my window.
Mother would say, “See that sky.”
You have to find beauty.

You can go down one of those hills.
You’ll have a long life.
When you hit the top all of sudden you couldn’t catch your heart.
It’s wow!

When Luna Park was burning I never saw such a sky in my life, a red sky.
I heard the fire trucks; I looked out the window.
The next morning, I learned Luna Park had burned.

I could see the moon from my window.
The moon was better than being on earth.
I wanted to stay up there.

*     *     *     *     *     *

The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project was founded in 2004 by Gary Glazner and has served over 9,500 people living with Alzheimer’s disease. They have also developed poetry workshop models for early stage dementia groups. For more information on this award-winning project, visit their website http://www.alzpoetry.com. Glazner is a poet and author whose books include Sparking Memories: The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project Anthology and Ears on Fire: Snapshot Essays in a World of Poets.

Amanda Deutch is a teaching artist and poet whose mother and grandparents lived in Coney Island. Her poetry is published in dozens of literary journals and her poem “30,000 City Windows” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the founder of Parachute: the Coney Island Performance Festival and recently launched a Poets Walking Tour of Coney Island.

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Related posts on ATZ…

February 23, 2011: Double Exposure: Photographer Barry Yanowitz & Coney Island on BCAT TV

January 8, 2011: Boardwalk: Photos by Meredith Caliento, Spoken Word by Michael Schwartz

December 8, 2010: Children’s Book Tells Coney Island Carousel Carver’s Story

September 27, 2009: Coney Island 1969 by Edwin Torres: Fave Poem from Parachute Festival

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Poet Edwin Torres Reading at Parachute: The Coney Island Performance Festival at the New York Aquarium. Photo © Edward Hansen

Poet Edwin Torres Reading at Parachute: The Coney Island Performance Festival at the New York Aquarium. Photo © Edward Hansen

If you’re looking for something to read on this rainy, “as summer into autumn slips” kind of day, ATZ recommends this poem by Edwin Torres. The autobiographical “Coney Island 1969” was written especially for Parachute: The Coney Island Performance Festival. Torres debuted the poem on September 12, the first night of Coney’s Island’s first annual performance festival. The Alien Stingers exhibit at the New York Aquarium proved to be an inspired setting for the event as the parachute-like jellyfish danced in the water behind the human performers. Now if you’re looking for somewhere to go on a rainy day, ATZ recommends the Alien Stingers at the Aquarium, which is open year round. The adult jellyfish is called the “medusa.” How poetic is that?

CONEY ISLAND 1969       

My father was the manager of Nathan's Hot Dogs on Coney Island
A memory inside a beach ball
My cousin reaching below the surface
Water in my lungs
Gagging
Blue sky
Technicolor white
Where skin should be

        My father watched me walk the cracks
	From our bedroom window
	In the Bronx
	Asking me
	What I thought I was doing
	How a line is straight when you walk it
	How a man knows exactly where to go

My father took us to Nathan's at Christmas
Company party
Santa
A thousand presents for each and every child
The boardwalk was cold
The rides empty
Coney Island winter
You had to warm your fingers
By hiding them from the ocean

	My father gave us hot dogs and fries
	Between his affairs
	He gave me animals
	To show his love
	I had a beagle, a turtle, 3 guinea pigs and 2 java rice birds
	I loved them
	So I loved my father

My father took me and my two sisters to the Statue of Liberty
He told me it was made of Limburger Cheese
I loved him
He never hit me
He never hugged me
I had to walk straight
That's what he told me

	When I visit my father
	At St. Raymond's Cemetary
	I find his gravestone
	I have a son I tell him
	Winter is our time
	When he left
	When all those presents at Nathan's were opened
	All those families

My father towered over me
Laughing in his eyes
You're my little man he'd say
From up there
The bumper cars
The mirrors
All those reflections

	a location's intuition
	will be to remain
	long enough to be found

	in a relationship with scale
	the chance to leave
	will follow its pull

	calling to catch
	what will does
	to weight

My father was never Coney Island to me
He never knocked on the door
That morning in the Bronx
My mother didn't open
No cops told her nothing
She didn't hide her face in her hands
No silent tears
	cover her mouth when she snore
No floor I play my indians on

	No roller coaster tell me no turn
	No question come from long legs
	No mean kids
	No skinny mirror
	My father had yoga thumbs
	Look what I can do I'd say
	Leaning out just far enough
	To make you catch me

        -Edwin Torres ©2009
Jellyfish in the Alien Stingers Exhibit at New York Aquarium, Coney Island. Photo © Charles Denson

Jellyfish in the Alien Stingers Exhibit at New York Aquarium, Coney Island. Photo © Charles Denson

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