Impressions of New York

I was nervous about the long flight, the stories I had heard about New York, and the terrible event of the previous year. Yes, my one and only visit took place a year after 9/11. We came in to land at night, lights sparkled below us, but I was sitting in a middle aisle and unable to take in the whole view. The airport officials made me nervous, especially their guns.

We took a cab to Manhattan and I got my first view of the city by night from ground level. Our hotel room was a few floors up, which gave me another perspective, but it wasn’t until we stepped out onto the roof restaurant balcony that it really hit me. This was New York!

We spent several days walking the grid of numbered streets and avenues, until some became familiar, as did the jazzy sound of traffic and voices, accents so different to my own. We got chatting to bartenders and waiters, visited Battery Park, but were unable to catch the ferry due to a thick fog, and then we got caught in a heavy downpour. When the early autumn sunshine returned, we visited Central Park and, on one occasion, watched part of the marathon, and went up the Empire State Building. Yes, we have tall buildings in London, but nothing as tall as the ones in Manhattan. The pace of life felt familiar but the rhythm was something else.

brownstone bass line
scat rhythm of yellow cabs
leaves fall in the park

Kim M. Russell, 25th May 2020

Piet Mondrian. Broadway Boogie Woogie. 1942-43 | MoMA
Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet  Mondrian, 1942-43 moma.org

My haibun for dVerse Poets Pub Haibun Monday: Haibun Monday: Meet Piet

I’m hosting this Haibun Monday, and we have a visual prompt, a painting by the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, entitled Broadway Boogie Woogie’. Mondrian was a pioneer of abstract art and was also passionate about dancing – not slow traditional dances like a waltz or a tango, but modern fast dancing, like the boogie woogie. Although he lived in the Netherlands and Paris most of his life, he spent his final years (1938-1944) in New York, having first left Paris for London due to the advance of fascism. New York inspired this painting, which now hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

47 thoughts on “Impressions of New York

  1. I have not been to NY for many years… the first time in 1979 I saw it more as something out of film… all those cars and then in 1992 when I drove myself on Manhattan… there is something so familiar yet totally different… it would be nice to come back at some point.

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    1. I won’t be visiting again. I can’t travel too far now, I don’t like airports and crowds, and am quite happy staying at home and experiencing the world through the eyes of all the wonderful poets I’ve got to know over the years.

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  2. Love your comment that the pace of life felt familiar but the rhythm was different! We’ve been to New York City a number of times….as tourists and for business. Seeing the city stretched out in front of you from way up high is amazing….and most especially at night. The city that never sleeps….
    I love the cab line in the haiku.

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  3. I think I was somewhat confused on this challenge. I took it quite literally and wrote what it made me feel, rather than creating a story around it. I’ve enjoyed your description of your NY visit, however!! I’ve never been, and have to admit I have no desire to go there. I’m a child of the prairie. and I crave wide open spaces!

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    1. No confusion at all, Bev. There is no right or wrong way, I wanted to know how it made you feel and that is what you did, wonderfully ekphrastic and honest. I don’t live on the prairie but we do have wide open spaces and massive skies here in Norfolk, so I know what you mean!

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  4. Outstanding haibun and killer haiku, perfect illustration for your prompt. Its been a while since we wrote to a visual prompt. A whole bunch of us picked up on the tidy geometry of a subway map; how cool. Like Bjorn, my first visit to NYC felt “familiar”, probably secondary to the hundreds of movies with NYC as a locale.

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    1. Thank you, Glenn. It could be a subway map of a street map of New York. I was amazed that Jason Moran saw it as a piece of sheet music, a jazz composition, that he played on the piano.

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  5. You describe the city of New York very well. It is amazing to be in the middle of such a conglomeration of structures! Love the leaves falling in the park.. Central park keeps it real!

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  6. Oh yes my first visit to New York was back in the nineties way before 9/11. My sister and my cousin took me around to see the sights. I did fall in love with Manhattan. I had a nice vacation, but I was sure hurry to get back to my Caribbean comfort zone.

    Your beautiful haibun is full of memories, enjoyed reading it, Kim
    Happy Monday

    Much💟love

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  7. sounds like you fell in love with NY … no wonder this BBC episode sparked your imagination!

    The busyness and bustle would not attract me .. think I’d get lost in central park 😉

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    1. Central Park is a blessing for New York and it has some very interesting places and people in it: roller skaters and bladers, runners, cyclists, dancers and singers. We went to the ice rink and John Lennon memorial,, and I took photos of the turtles in the little lake. Central Park has been referenced in so many books and appeared in memorable films, that is is familiar, even to people who haven’t been there.

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  8. I have never been to New York, but feel I know it through movies. I enjoyed visiting it with you! The view from the rooftop restaurant must have been something!

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    1. Thanks Sherry. he view was great, but I did get claustrophobic walking the streets. Central Park was a relief and I loved the trees – the leaves were already changing colour.

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  9. This reminded me of my trip to NYC last summer. It was so fun. The city lights were one of my favorite parts. I am feeling thankful that I got to travel since this summer will be a lot of enjoying my backyard.

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    1. Thank you, Ali. I’m staying put until we’re allowed to visit family, and then I’m jumping in the car to visit my daughter and grandson. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

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  10. Oooooh. I haven’t seen this city but you took me there with you, Kim. I felt the agony with your vivid imagery, most of all, my senses are awaken by the way you detailed the smell, the sound, the ambience of New York. You transported us at this moment, brilliantly!

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  11. When I visited Japan, I couldn’t get over the difference between tall buildings in the UK and the ones in Japan. Even simple shops we six or seven floors. Certain areas did take on that sense of the familiar after a day or two though. It’s funny how quickly you can adapt.

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