Poem Of The Day: 7:00 In NYC

Aggression and hustle in NYC turns into “ambition.”

Photo by Joe Taylor on Unsplash

Recently I was listening to The Daily’s podcast titled “A Bit of Relief: I Forgive You, New York.” While I wrote my own poem before I heard this 10 minute ode to the Big Apple from Roger Cohen, I’ve found both of these pieces to hold a kind of yearning for a tomorrow, where we are grateful for even the smallest of things or the most common, everyday sights, smells, and acts. Aggression and hustle in NYC turns into “ambition.” The rats on the street are beautiful because they are a part of our natural system of life, as necessary as cherry blossoms blooming in Central Park.

This quote has stayed with me during quarantine:

“We overwater a plant and it dies. Love is like death because it is so strong.”

Perhaps this time is to realize who is really there. Which connections are the strongest, and which connections need more work. This time feels like the seven stages of grief in a way. We are all mourning something. But maybe in the future we can turn this love into even more abundance, where we take time in bettering our relationships instead of working 24/7. The “cease of our city’s hum” will return. And we need to take it in like a new breath, a new start, and a new birth of opportunity instead of obstacle.

When They Ask Me What Will Be the First Thing I Do After “This is Over”

I do not know what it feels like

to give birth to a child.


But right now there is a sound sizzling

every night at 7 pm

across New York


across rooftops

and gutters

and stickered bus benches



for doctors, nurses, everyone

everyone on the front lines

City as an entire


City stopping to make the same motion at the same time:


A ten-year-old clapping while her moon-landing puzzle pieces cartwheel across the woven rug

A 45-year-old mother clapping while her tomatillo soup sings, her engagement ring a ballet not of being found but of finding someone who sees

A 98-year-old great-grandfather clapping, standing at his window with his bent cane, glasses so unfogged and unafraid it hurts a little to open wider


How weird

for pieces of the body to choose themselves

They have always known

foreign freckles

wrinkled, unrelated palms

cherried thumbs (not their own) sandpapering the same space they both call home


Our dangling limbs touching each other

(clap clap clap)

so more people can touch





There is a plant named bougainvillea.

I am naming my daughter


the daughter we are all growing during this time—

because she will stretch “taking nothing for granted” into a new vine we call Now

we call Monday afternoons at the office, we call nights sipping wine with strangers, nothing will taste bitter again

Bougainvillea will thirst to say thank you, anytime, anywhere, with anyone

Bougainvillea will feed on firsts, a feast of anything, anyplace, any moment, anybody


Because we have forgotten how starved we have been.


How a quarter of an inch of butter

did not mean a thing.

A paper movie ticket.

Scissors through hair.

Sleeping next to someone.

Sharing the same spoon.

Holding my grandmother has been a decade of drought and all the water is yelling at me “Do it now! Do it now.”


We are in battle. This

battle. To prove that Bougainvillea is a climbing plant

even when the dictionary says its flowers are “insignificant” and cannot move.

To prove that we are not machines

addicted to repetition addicted to repetition addicted to repetition


Our papery green thumbs were once

born as thin sheets of metal, once

gloved and greedy, masked and eyeless,

Our thumbs were shields

to touch

and be touched

to kiss

and be kissed

to breathe

and be breathed into

We have forgotten that a fly can still find its fire

even in capture and we are that fly.


Bougainvillea, you are blind now,

but I promise

you will photograph this world

in its most naked state of being:


black and white

no one is there

click, snap, flutter, flare


you will name a plastic grocery bag dancing in air alone on the street


as its own word. This.


Amanda Dettmann


Amanda is an avid traveler who calls Maine her home, but her favorite places include Amsterdam's Christmas markets and Shakespeare's Globe in London. She is passionate about poetry, theatre, and teaching writing to kids and adults with disabilities. She thinks the best part of traveling is hearing strangers' incredible stories. Her ultimate mission? To find the tastiest cappuccino in the world.

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