Poetry Sunday: “Goodbye, New York,”
by Deborah Garrison

Goodbye, New York
                      (song from the wrong side of the Hudson) 

You were the big fat city we called hometown
You were the lyrics I sang but never wrote down

You were the lively graves by the highway in Queens
the bodega where I bought black beans

stacks of the Times we never read
nights we never went to bed

the radio jazz, the doughnut cart
the dogs off their leashes in Tompkins Square Park

You were the tiny brass mailbox key
the joy of “us” and the sorrow of “me”

You were the balcony bar in Grand Central Station
the blunt commuters and their destination

the post-wedding blintzes at 4 A.M.
and the pregnant waitress we never saw again

You were the pickles, you were the jar
You were the prizefight we watched in a bar

the sloppy kiss in the basement at Nell’s
the occasional truth that the fortune cookie tells

Sinatra still swinging at Radio City
You were ugly and gorgeous but never pretty

always the question, never the answer
the difficult poet, the aging dancer

the call I made from a corner phone
to a friend in need, who wasn’t at home

the fireworks we watched from a tenement roof
the brash allegations and the lack of any proof

my skyline, my byline, my buzzer and door
now you’re the dream we lived before


“Goodbye, New York” from The Second Child by Deborah Garrison, copyright © 2006 by Deborah Garrison. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.



Born on February 12, 1965, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Deborah Garrison earned her BA in creative writing at Brown University and her MA in literature at New York University. After graduating from Brown in 1986, Garrison joined the editorial staff of The New Yorker, where she edited fiction and nonfiction for the magazine for many years. Garrison is the author of two poetry collections: The Second Child: Poems(Random House 2008), about her experiences as a mother, and A Working Girl Can’t Win: And Other Poems(Random House 1999), about her experiences as a young, single woman living in Manhattan in her twenties. The Second Child is available for order here and here. And you can find feature articles about Garrison and her work here and here. Garrison currently works as a poetry editor for the Random House imprint Alfred Knopf, and in fiction and nonfiction for the Random House imprint Pantheon. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey. [From poets.org/poetsorg/poet/deborah-garrison  and poetryfoundation.org/poets/deborah-garrison ]

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