where the wind tears through the thickest coats as we huddle in awkward clumps, side by side, for warmth. praying the show will start so we can go. peer into the horizon, gobbled up by the explosion of lights. sanctioned dynamite, the cold, and pretty dyes are all that separate us from a war zone in Aleppo.
where we gaze at the skies, waiting.
for them to come back. to reach down out of the full looming moon and grab your hand. and skoo dee whoop, scat, skip, and shimmy across constellations. to throw in a twirl or two so that your yellow dress whirls in the approaching star’s gleam.
where mouths stiffen instead of commence kissing
is there such thing as a new beginning? it is started by definition, therefore it was new. once lived, if uncaptured, its never reclaimed. remade. re-hymenated.
wherein that sliver of sour before one cries at another’s pain. before the shouting is deafening. before the thunder of fireworks bashing an eardrum. before we fade into the blankets of night, trying to regain life and limb in the warmth.
where the before exists
and hearts heal
and the broken
no longer congregate
every time you
tell your daughter
you yell at her
out of love
you teach her to confuse
anger with kindness
which seems like a good idea
till she grows up to
trust men who hurt her
cause they look so much
–Excerpt of Milk and Honey– Rupi Kaur
she slang her dress over her knee
tucks her carefully pinned dupatta into her sweater
already damp and heavy
from leaning into the water all afternoon
squatting into scaly run off
legs and back bent like a frog’s
As the sun runs
from the docks
she scrapes peanut bunker into a bucket
from the tarp
spread across their commandeered
section of the pier
Warning the ladkis not to play
near the railings
she spies the looming quiet
amongst the overhead planes passing
the quarreling chess players
brightening bachata music
and distant rumbling of cars on the Belt Parkway
that surrounds her family
Serenity seeps into every fisher face
gazing into the bay
the darkness soon come
as they say
Time to get home for dinner
The realization that clean energy, namely solar, can save the city in a crisis such as Hurricane Sandy, is sweeping through neighborhoods. Solar, which is renewable, efficient, and off-the-grid, provides energy which was needed throughout the damaged areas of the boroughs lacking in emergency preparation.
A press release in November 2016 announced that the Office of Storm Recovery, funded by Governor Cuomo, appointed 26 facilities and 19 service providers under the New York Rising Community Center Program to create a network of neighborhood-based recovery centers for extreme weather events.
In 2014 the reconstruction plan for Canarsie was set in motion, which was directly inspired by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Two of the hubs are in the Canarsie area, having been identified by the community center program committee as necessary. They will be fitted with solar power and sustainable batteries.
The Canarsie planning committee members include established local organizations such as the Canarsie Disaster Recovery Coalition, Flatlands 108th Block Association, Fresh Creek Civic Association, and the Jewish Community Council of Canarsie. Major non-profits, such as Solar One, the largest weatherization organization in New York State, help connect these local residents with the program’s renewable services.
Kristin Devoe of the Division of Emergency Services for New York City said, “Through our stockpiles, we can provide generators, light towers, etc. to local emergency managers for local use to power essential buildings such as gathering centers, warming centers, critical infrastructure public buildings. However, none of these items are fueled by renewable energy.”
Solar energy is a powerful resource. The lithium ion batteries, its non-toxic counterpart device, stay charged with the sun’s energy for when it is needed, while the excess is sent back into the city’s electrical grid. The Energy Association reports that, “Today’s electricity grid is increasingly vulnerable to threats from nature, terrorists, and accidents. Power outages cost as much as $130 billion annually, while hitting the job-creating commercial and industrial sectors the hardest.”
The Solar One site at Stuyvesant Park Cove on The East River was pummeled when Hurricane Sandy hit on October 29, 2012. According to their program report that year, they were able to quickly adapt their solar panel system into a crucial charging station for people nearby during the city’s recovery. Without alternative methods for powering electronics, and in one case a child’s nebulizer for asthma, people’s communications and safety would have suffered.
“You have to be prepared,” said Elba O. Melendez and Community Emergency Response Team volunteer from Canarsie.
Melendez and the committee have dedicated their time to readying their neighborhoods for natural disasters. The idea is to transfer Solar One’s adapted crisis methods into full-blown emergency and environmental education centers. “Many sources encourage the use of solar chargers by the general public in the event of a power outage for small items such as personal cell phones, rechargeable or crank operated lanterns, flashlights, and weather radios and these are considered effective in these instances,” said Devoe.
The organizations determined that solar powered devices, panels, and storage batteries would be the most helpful to maintain communications and basic comforts during a crisis recovery in Canarsie. Even suggesting in the reconstruction plan that resilient street lights powered by solar energy would improve safety during an emergency.
Angelica Ramdhari, Solar One Project Director of NYRCR Solar and Battery Backup Program for Community Facilities, hopes to create backup power for neighborhoods in need with elderly or local residents that have less access to charging, resources, and transportation.
no stabbing demons
or slaying dragons for me
I didn’t save your legs from breaking
or solve the world’s aching
heroics aren’t really my thing
no mountain of lies did I chip away at
or speak great truths to be had
I lack luster and deservedness
less than special
but I did get through this day
Doggedly rode out the pain
in between bad caffeine shots
and propped eyelids and bandaged hearts
because the mission mandates
that I just
make it to tomorrow
–Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
why she whine down
break him beauty
create boundless space
so they ask how she move
how they float roun’
runnin’ with one body
flowin’ into each motion
as fast as rhythmically possible
It’s cold out as tourists snap pictures of the gaping hole in the center of the 9/11 Memorial site. People are unfazed by the rain as it mixes into the constantly churning waters. The sound of the giant, cubic waterfall drowns out the rest of the city in this congested part of lower Manhattan. In the distance, the museum gleams, packed with even more people.
Officers wielding large weapons appear every few minutes or so, scanning the area instead of taking it in. Some people march by, dressed in suits or business attire, barely glancing at the memorial as they file by in herds towards the rebuilt train station. Others stare down into the gushing rapids, or carefully run their hands over the hundreds of names engraved in the black stone surrounding the water. Everyone is trying to take the best picture to bring home in commemoration. They have to bend in awkward angles because the memorial sites for both buildings are vast in depth and size, and hard to fit into frame.
The blown out windows in all of the bordering buildings are all fixed. Dust in the streets has been replaced by sturdy, dark concrete that stretches in every direction. A new Starbucks is bustling, while the destroyed corner church’s construction is still underway. It’s walls will have vines, green patches, and an observation deck overlooking both of the tower memorials. In the background, the freedom tower is tall and brightly lit in the onslaught of night. The first few floors flicker on and off in a subtle pattern. From the plaza there is no bottom in sight to the waterfall. It seems to go on forever into the ground.