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Terminal Hotel, Mermaid Ave and Stillwell Ave, Coney Island. May 26, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

An Unexpected Encounter

I went to Moe’s Used Books
in Coney Island to look for
The Joys of Yinglish,
long out of print
and even though
it was the last week in September
the temperature hovered
in the mid 80s
and Moe’s store lacked an air-conditioner
because all his meager profits
would have been eaten up
by the cost of electricity. Soon I was
sweating and barely able
to breathe
my throat tight and swollen
so I needed
a cool liquid quickly
and plodded along Surf Avenue
to Corn Queen
and ordered a large root beer
but in this particular establishment
they don’t give you an item
until the money has been
deposited in their cash register.
I pulled out a fifty
all I had with me
placed it on the counter
and reached for the root beer
but the guy grabbed the cup
pointing to a sign on the wall:
no bills larger than $20 accepted.
For some reason I blurted out,
“Turn on the air-conditioner,
why don’t you?
It’s like the equator in here.”
He simply smiled.
“Look, I been coming in here
for twenty years.
Lemme drink,
then I’ll get change.”
He shook his head.
“Where’s the owner, Two Ton Tony?
He knows me.”
“Deceased, ” he said.
When I heard that
my knees buckled
and I clutched the counter. Suddenly
a woman appeared
placing a dollar bill on the counter.
“For the big man,” she said.
I immediately snatched
the soda
gulping it down,
then I turned to her
saying, “Thanks.”
She was a prostitute.
The outfit
plus make-up
gave her away
and one word led to another
and soon we were
in room 11 of the Terminal Hotel.
The dear woman
accepted
bills
larger than a twenty.

10/25/2005. Copyright © Charles Chaim Wax
via poemhunter.com

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September 29, 2011: Coney Island Poem from the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project

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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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

Read Full Post »

Today we’re taking a holiday break from news about Coney Island deconstruction and redevelopment to shine the spotlight on a new literary endeavor. Urban Haiku and More by Patricia Carragon, host of the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets, was just published by Fierce Grace Press. The poet is a member of Brevitas, a group dedicated to short poems, including haiku, senryu, hay(na)ku and other unrhymed tercet poetry.

The subject matter of Urban Haiku and More encompasses such everyday events as riding the New York City subway, thinking about one’s sex life, laughing and crying about being dateless, and –well we’re not sure this one is an everyday event—searching the Coney Island boardwalk for mermaids. The book is illustrated with Japanese-style watercolors of birds and flowers, but reading Carragon’s poems about Coney Island immediately brought to mind the rainy Mermaid Parade of 2009. Thanks to Barry Yanowitz for permission to use his evocative photos of the parade in this post.

weathermen predict
washout at Coney Island
mermaids drown in the storm

Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2009.  Photo © Barry Yanowitz via flickr

Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2009. Photo © Barry Yanowitz via flickr

Brooklyn mermaids
hiding under umbrellas
rain on their parade

Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2009.  Photo © Barry Yanowitz via flickr

Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2009. Photo © Barry Yanowitz via flickr

Coney Island storm
mermaids do breaststrokes
on boardwalk

Urban Haiku and More is available at BookCourt and upcoming book events:

Sunday, October 17 at 4 p.m. at The Bowery Poetry Club, – 308 Bowery, NYC 10012

Thursday, October 28 at 7 p.m. at Wyld Chyld Tattoo and Café – 1708 Sunrise Highway, Merrick, NY 11566

Tuesday, November 2 at 7 p.m. at the Perch Café – 365 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Urban Haiku and More
by Patricia Carragon
Illustrated by William L. Hays
saddle-stitched chapbook, 52pp, $7
Fierce Grace Press / 1515 Benton Blvd., #1727/ Pooler, GA 31322

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