Memories of Living on the Lower East Side

In January of 1949, my husband Max and I were informed by the New York City  Housing Authority that we had qualified for immediate occupancy of an apartment at 465 East 10th Street, just of Avenue D.  We rejoiced at finally moving into our own home with our three-month-old baby daughter Debby.  Ever since Max's discharge from the army two years before, we had occupied the living room of my parent's Upper West Side apartment (only forty blocks from where I now live) and it had been a very stressful experience.


Our rock spins, whirring into black

O but we do not fall from our rock

And oceans never spill a drop.

And houses stand still

and children sleep securely,

cuddled by the towns.

And leaves on trees do not even tremble as they might.

While you

and you

stand and walk

or run or ride

across the planet

that is our home.

The Nosegay

Our slender torsos danced under the starry summer sky.
I remember the warmth of your caress, the wine of every kiss.
Pressed between the love letters of long, long ago
are the beautiful rose petals. They still glow.

The Redwoods

Soaring as rockets trapped in ascent
reaching toward the heavens.
Anchored in earth which by a miracle
holds them tightly to her bosom.
Mighty sentinels majestically stand.

Yet neither threat nor cannon here assemble.
Silence permeates and we are entranced
while standing in the confines of the ancients.

As in a house of prayer the need arises
to softly whisper in this enchanted cathedral.
May you be here eternally, my friends,
to nurture lost souls and humble the eagles.

A Dream

It was a big open space.
Despite the cool day, warm.
The walls raw pine, unfinished,
were a light mellow yellow brown.
There was one window
on the north wall.
The ceiling had a hole
in one corner,
ladder vested in it.
Bushels of apples lined
the back wall, floor to ceiling.
The aroma a reminder of
grandmother's orchard.

The Rent Wars

My rent is exempt from increases
I, as a senior citizen, accept this
The devil who disguises himself as
A landlord does not
Certified mail to landlord
No response from Landlord
Lawyer calls him
No response from Landlord
Letter written to him
No response from Landlord
Is it personal?
I think not
Is it greed?
Housing court here I come.


I am
hollowed out,
not ice cream scoop,
but derrick—
a shovel
with teeth
coming down hard
to make a hole:

I am to be a hole,
an important hole,
to base a footing
for an edifice,
a Grand Edifice,
a Grand Plan
for a construction.

I am to be
crushed with cement,
pierced through
with re-bars.

I am to be an anchor
for the cornerstone,
an anchor in dirt.

Spitting Image

"You're the spitting image of your father," I was told, and I loved him, not her.   A chip off the old block, the acorn.  He took me to work with him on Saturdays at the Baker Brush Company, bought sandwiches for the sour smelling bums in Soho, before it was Soho.  He took his daughter to lunch with pride; a big shot to his little shot.  The spitting image of my father, I wanted to be like him, seemingly in charge, decisive, willing to spend money; attractive, a big shot who tipped his hat.


I reach into the back of my closet to take out a tailored navy bule sllk dress with a matching short jacket that is lined with a surprisingly brilliant yellow-green fabric.  This was my mother's dress-up outfit.  She wore it only on special occasions and looked lovely when she did.  I don't know why I kept it, other than it belonged to her.  I never planned to give it away nor wear it myself.  It was hers and so it would remain, a kind of loving keepsake. 


I was afraid of them, had no trust in them, didn’t want to stroke them or have them touch me. Most of my life I didn’t like cats. That is, until I met Katze and Neko seventeen years ago. Katze means cat in German and Neko means cat in Japanese. They were American Shorthair felines.  Katze was an all white timid male. Neko was an all black frisky female. Brother and sister had great dispositions: friendly, playful, and lovable. Initially, the cats belonged to someone my daughter Lisa dated. When their relationship ended, Lisa kept the cats.