Phillip Lopate describes the shape of Manhattan Island as‘a luxury liner, permanently docked, going nowhere’. This feeling of being tethered to the land, unable to get to sea, was a feature of New York life for much of the twentieth century. New York was an island without a coast. The West Side piers that once welcomed the Lusitania spent most of the twentieth century crumbling or behind barbed wire, while the East Side’s coves and points were cut off from pedestrians by six lanes of the Robert Moses-designed Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive. It wasn’t much easier to reach the shores of Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, either: with a few exceptions, they were largely reserved for municipal or industrial use, and easiest to see from the Staten Island Ferry (en route to the borough with the most beaches). Now, slowly, the city is reclaiming its shoreline, with some spectacular results.

The Game by A. E. Souzis

It was poker night at the Gowanus Social Club and Jake didn’t want to be there.

He didn’t want to be in the room, which was like a rec room basement, with walls like strips of brown tar, and men with mouths like that, too. He didn’t want to sit at the chipped Formica table, staring at the tits on a ripped St. Pauli Girl poster and the dented dartboard, flipping through a greasy deck of cards and drinking flat beer. 

He knew where he wanted to be. Celebrating his first night home at his mom’s one-bedroom in Bay Ridge, sitting on her floral couch, eating her famous lasagna and watching Criminal Minds. Lisa would have finally forgiven him and she’d be there too, and when his mom left for the late shift at the hospital they would laugh about how the squeaky springs on the couch, after four years, hadn’t changed.

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