Growing Old in Riverdale

Riding the elevator in my highrise

The usual mix of families,

people of various ages

races, languages and nationalities.

And a strong contingent of seniors,

Walkers, canes and shuffling.


On my way to the swimming pool

Or the laundry room

Or recycling,

Nothing special – a regular ride.


An older woman

A contemporary, I must admit,

Smiles and asks if I am on my

way to the senior center


Startled, I looked at her and say no

Never been there.

She said why don’t you try it.

If I were honest I would have said,

“ that’s not me.”

Instead I asked what goes on there.

“A sing along every Friday at 1 p.m.

Folk songs, broadway tunes.”

She plays the piano,


I’ve run into her a couple of times since

Exchanged hellos and a little conversation.

She: do you live alone?

No, with my wife (dare I say younger) and a friend;

And two dogs.

She: I lost my husband a few years ago.

It’s hard to be alone.

Can you be “old” and not a “senior.”

March, 2019.



All Winter Long

by Caroline Donnola


All winter long

we waited

for even a sign

that it would end.

But the snow kept coming

and the chill

and the overheating

in our NYC apartments,

the kind you can’t control.


So we kept sanitizing the humidifiers

blowing our dry noses

bundling up in layers

canceling meetings, trains

and social plans

when the Nor’easters refused to quit.


One bitter morning I heard birds

outside my window,

but they too piped down

and abandoned their half-built nests.


The first sign of spring

was when the pink blossoms

began to appear—





Not from countryside trees—

these hearty Eastern Redbuds

survive and thrive

in the harsh polluted air

and bring a kind of majesty

to otherwise gritty streets and sidewalks.


These flowers are a sign

that things will get better,

things are looking up—

Even summer will be back one day.



a few weeks later,

walking home from the subway at night

I see that most of the buds are gone,

all fallen to the ground

in a giant pink carpet

covering the sidewalk

in shimmering petals,

the color of a perfect sunset.


Every year the same thing happens—

this short-lived harbinger of spring.


Of course more flowers, bushes and trees will bud,

producing glorious colors,

brilliant green leaves,

roses in every hue.

But no sight

can compare

to those first arrivals

that stamp out the longer, darker days

and usher in the light.





The Albatross

Thanks to Don Yorty for reminding us of this beautiful poem by Charles Baudelaire

The Albatross

Often to amuse themselves sailors
Catch albatross, huge sea birds
Who follow, indolent companions of the voyage
The gliding ship over the salty deep.

Scarcely have they thrown them on deck
When these kings of the blue, awkward and ashamed
Pitifully let their great white wings
Drag like they’re oars alongside of them.

This winged voyager can’t stand on his feet
So recently beautiful an ugly joke.
One knocks on its beak with his pipe.
Another mimes, limping, the cripple who flew.

The Poet is like the Prince of the Clouds
Who laughs at the archer and rides above storms.
Surrounded by jeers, pulled down from the sun
His giant wings won’t let him walk.


Sunday morning.

A bright winter sun lights up the pool.

As I finish my “laps” the kids arrive.


Babies lowered into the water

Float just above their mother’s arms,

Comfortable and secure.


Older kids splash with their

Friends and family.

The lifeguard works to maintain order,

But it’s the joyful chaos that beckons.


March, 2109