New York, I Abandon You

by Florence McDermott

New York, I abandon you.
Former lover, faithful friend, you done me wrong, as they say in the song.

Those wild concerts on hard chairs
Where old men clean their nails with a penknife–and sit in pairs.
And silly old women faint in the crush around an obscure pianist and the crowd says, “Hush,”
As they’re carted out like wet laundry.

COVID extracted a payment: give up the City that Never Sleeps
or I bring you to the waters of the Styx,
Across Gravesend, full of picks,
Flowing on the other side of the Island called Coney,
Not an island and all of it’s phony.

I leave the bacchanal:
Meeting ladies for latte at four or later,
Women who laugh a lot, have ticks, walk with sticks.

New Year’s Day, eating brunch inside a bubble for four,
Downing coffee to keep the body temperature off the floor,
For the pleasure of eggs served by a man who remembers my wedding,
And friends who remember nothing.

Riskier than Vegas, New York holds the thrill of violence in its sweaty palm–
That was always its balm.
As I await the all-clear to emerge from isolation, I see the task:
To dodge death from a stray bullet, or a kind word from a neighbor without a mask.

New York, I abandon you.