Writing to the Windows

This page compiles writings by NYU students inspired by the Kimmel Windows.


Reflection on Ross Gay’s “A Small Needful Fact” by Mariah Robinson

I know home to mean my city as easily as I know art to mean my words, but when Danez Smith said “point to whatever you please & call it…home,” I didn’t know where to point.

Say I claim this land as mine; forget this was once someone else’s home, forget this was always the animals’ home, forget home is the earth, as a globe, as the dirt; “forget we are walking on bones.”

I know little about humans for certain, but I think I know this: We like to protect what is ours.
So – I have decided – that I will call the earth mine.
I will call the earth home.
My home, our home, their home, it’s a home.
Say it over and over and over and over.
And maybe if I say it loud enough, for long enough, you will start to call it that, too.

& I know that this is repetitive
But I think that
is only bad
if you’re repeating the past.

Eric Garner repeated “I can’t breathe” 11 times.
11 times and there are 11 poems in the windows at 3rd Street & LaGuardia & I wrote the word “needful” 11 times in a row before I knew what I needed to say here.

We’re counting down seconds until we run out of time, counting off species we’re killing, counting up inches of sea water rising.

I count each of my words like that will solve something –

You see: the word “home” appears on this page exactly 11 times.
We all say: I am just 1 person.
I say: yes, and we have just 1 earth.

A 1 and a 1 look just like 11
When there’s nothing between them
When they’ve no space to breathe.



and the fruit grew by Logan M Stacer

i caught an apple in my hands
not-far from a family tree with
a last name wax-paper-
traced &; translated from a
mother tongue spoken only
by my stomach’s rumblings
post-indulging my Grandmother’s
famous German dumplings.
i’m Black, too, by the way
of canals or oceans or
veins or fate or whatever
brought my parents together
on a sinful night somewhere
in the Lone Star State.
in the Lone Star State
i was but a seedling
being secretly synthesized
by the Sun &; the Wind
&; the blood passed down by
my Black grandmother’s
Black grandmother. perhaps
soil writes her hands love letters
&; addresses them to me, perhaps
the soil still recalls the tender
attention paid, the sifting &;
separating &; celebrating the
softest chemical concoction
she learned to call cotton.

she learned to call cotton

by the feeling my grandfather
calls carpentry. my grandfather,
who married my grandmother &;
her dumplings at the ripe age
of when-you-know-you-know,
who, in my quarter life i have
noticed a quota of characteristics
i have come to resemble, speaks
wood &; toolbox fluently. i told him
i am neither architect nor agriculturist,
but a wordsmith, adept at crafting a
sentence to fill the smallest of seeds with
the confidence to crack through concrete
the confidence to crack through concrete
brought me to this city. surely the soil has
had my back. the sky, my breath. the wind,
carried my wishes &; first three dimensions
to the Sunflower State. a late bloomer, with life
lessons to be perfected but i trusted the timing
of the blossom. i have been called upon by
ancestors; Black, Anglo Saxon, &; Seminole
to breath Love back into this jungle’s jugular.
Love, a singular syllable capable of captivating
crowds, en masse, to re-track their steps back
to their best selves. it helps to talk to that which
you plant. whether new life or new idea,
speak with love &; watch them grow


speak with love &; watch them grow
how we got here? no one knows.

we killed the plants, we killed the land,
destruction wasn’t how life began.
what can we learn from a tree grown full?
nourishment comes from a greater whole.
you need strong roots to grow stronger branches,
so why expect help from those who live in mansions?
i speak not of community but ecosystem
because how i see it, Love is missin’.
don’t drain the swamp, that wouldn’t be fair
remove the predators that aren’t supposed to be there!
a few bad apples can’t be to blame
if all of the apples are growing the same.

if all of the apples are growing the same,
ask, what is at their core? the bad seeds
spoken into existence between touches
without permission &; dismissing witness opinion?
we have children trapped in detention but
profit is what we mention? i have listened
&; learned from women &; men who mean
more than textbooks could ever teach &;
it is with these hands i have hugged fruits &;
friends the way my grandfathers have hugged me
&; my grandmothers have loved me & i know
help is but a fingertip’s distance away. ask,
how ancestors asked the trees for life. i tried &
i caught an apple in my hands.


Response by E. Bullard

The plants in the windows of Kimmel alongside the poems from ​Ghost Fishing​ are native to Puerto Rico. They are physically distanced and uprooted, giving us a reminder of the effects of Hurricane Maria, and the effects of the US’s lack of action in an extreme time of need. As the plants grow during the semester, a group of students will be tending to them, making sure that they are healthy and flourishing. As the student caretakers tend to the plants they will also, in a way, tend to the poems themselves.

The presence of the plants in the windows next to the poems made me think about what tending to a garden or even to a single plant can mean, especially after a period of struggle, or as a way to combat adversity. In the same way, it helped me think about what it means to tend to a poem. Gardening is a constant return to the same small things or group of things. It’s a series of rote actions that must be performed in order for something to grow. Similar to the way in which a mantra washes over the speaker, it’s meditative, nearly ritualistic. I think you can easily take the same approach to reading a poem. Instead of reading it once, you can read it each day, or multiple times. Reading can be an act of tending. The presence of the plants in the window is a reminder of this.

A poem, like a mantra, like a periodic ritual, can change you slowly, in ways that are as slow as the hour-to-hour development of a plant. If you let it work on you, let its words seep into your bones, it becomes part of your psychology, your way of thinking. I think this is true also of cliches and repetitive bits of language we hear all the time as well, and I remember to be wary of letting that seep into me too much. To me, poetry is the antidote. In this way, the ​Ghost Fishing exhibition could be held in no better exhibition location. The exhibition has to be in Kimmel Windows, on the street — where passersby can absorb the words on their day-to-day routine walks, creating a perceptible or imperceptible ritual, seeing certain phrases out of the corner of their eye, phrases like LeConté Dill’s in “We Who Weave”: “…who put the root on whom first?”