Detail from Q’s homemade zine

The calendar said that 2020 began on January 1 like always, but the year had its own official start for each of us. Our kids’ school abruptly decided to close a day early in mid-March for spring break, and at the time we all thought we’d be back to something like normal when school resumed. Instead, M&Q, our high school son and daughter, launched their 2020 in their typical ways: That Friday the 13th of March, M was booked for a show with his band, and I remember being a little hesitant about letting him go. The original venue canceled…


We discovered that the ACT was canceled due to the pandemic for the third time just two days before my son M was supposed to sit for the test. The first cancellation was in March just when everything slid into the sea of the pandemic; the second test date was in June, which we didn’t ever believe would happen anyway. But we thought the damn thing might actually go in July, especially at the suburban school north of NYC in a curve-flattened region that Governor Cuomo had allowed to open faster than the city. …


This pandemic has been insatiable. It gnawed at the spring, slowly at first, thought it might fill up fast, until it consumed the last portions of the school year, including its habits and rituals of transition and completion. It ate my daughter Q’s birthday back in late April, which had to be celebrated via a surprise Zoom party with her friends who each set their virtual backgrounds to a favorite pic of her and them together. It ate the meat of my son M’s 17th birthday and left the bones of adulthood wet in his lap. It ate Mother’s and…


Father’s Day weekend in New York tends to be beautiful, all early summer sun and soft breeze, some of the city’s best days. Holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are usually seen as opportunities to recognize the work of parenthood by giving the mother or father some amount of relief from their duties for a day.

But duties being duties, relief never really comes. One Father’s Day weekend about either years ago, my mother and father were in town to see our daughter Q and our son M go about their usual business. Being half the U.S. away has…


We live in a New York neighborhood that doesn’t seem like a New York neighborhood. Battery Park City is a relatively new notch added on the lower west side of Manhattan, built in the 60s and 70s from earth excavated for the World Trade Center buildings and a few other large-scale public works. Head west across the West Side Highway, and you leave TriBeCa for blocks that feel like a concoction of city and suburb. A good third of the area is given over to park, including a large lawn that runs up to the Hudson river, and an extensive…


Photo by Jack Hamilton

We spend this Thanksgiving as we have the past several, with each other at our own table and with way too much food. Since it’s just the four of us, we don’t need to cook the full-on meal, but we’ve ingested enough tradition over the years that we find ourselves making lists and standing in long lines with over-full baskets. Besides, Thanksgiving has grown into an all-family thing in our house. We now trust my son M with a real knife, and he has become the emperor of stuffing. He will cube as many loaves as you put in front…


The front door opened into the cabin’s kitchen, bouncing on the frame before it latched. Inside was nearly as cold as outside, which was very. The linoleum floor slanted slightly but perceptively toward the far living-room corner and gave when we walked. A blue rug, faded and pocked with burns, led up to the fireplace.

It was perfect.

Spring hadn’t yet come to the Catskills even this late in March, and neither had the crowds. We drove up in our winter coats through sparse towns, met few cars on the roads. We seemed to be the only people staying in…


The Temple of Poseidon

Cecrops, the half-snake king of Attica, presided over a contest of the gods to see which one would be patron of his vibrant, thriving city. Poseidon and Athena each wanted the prize, and it was decided that whoever bestowed the best gift upon the city would receive the gift of the citizens’ worship. Poseidon struck his mighty trident upon the ground, and from that spot flowed a spring. Cecrops’s people rejoiced until they discovered that the spring ran salty. As her gift, Athena planted a seed that grew into an olive tree, providing food, shade, and oil to burn. Cecrops…


Forgive me.

I was walking along the tracks and came across you boiling at the edge. I didn’t know it then, but I was looking for the road out of there, a path away to my new self.

You were interesting. You were a cloud of anger. Young boys love menace. A stick was all it took. I gambled on the length.

I pulled some stinging soldiers from my socks. You went back to waiting to be angry. I found the road out.

Forgive me. And thanks.


Young Chef by Chris Ford

I work at a City University of New York school, one of a number of large (underfunded) urban institutions that serve around 275,000 students, mainly New York City public high-school graduates. My college in particular draws veterans and in-service personnel (cops, firefighters, guards both national and local), immigrants, and first-generation college students. Despite relatively low-cost tuition, nearly all students need and benefit from some sort of federal and state financial aid. Forty-two percent of our students are Hispanic, giving us the largest Hispanic student population of any four-year college in the Northeast. Nearly 60% of undergraduates and graduate students are…

Roblin Meeks

Essayist, academic, lapsed philosopher, associate dean of ice cream. Welcome, pals.

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