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Watching From Afar, A Poem for New York City

Chris has written poetry for 28 years though he focuses on short fiction. But watch out for the occasional twisted nursery rhyme.


New York City,

Why you again?

Wasn’t September 11 enough?

We are sitting around your perimeter


I want to help you.

I want to save you.

But I am one man,

And if I come,

I will quickly fall.

But that is cowardice.

If I truly cared,

I’d come and do something.

I watch the statistics cross my screen day after day.

Which is only slightly better than watching my favorite Netflix show.

I couldn’t do that.

I can’t live life as usual.

I have dear friends in the hospital now.

It has finally hit home for me.

I am for the common man.

I am for the old man who smoked for too many years.

The virus attacks his weakened lungs.

He is dying.

Blame him.

Go ahead.

Blame him.

I would sit by his bed and hold his hand

If I wasn’t so afraid.



Suzie from Carson City on April 14, 2020:

Chris...It's been much too long since I visited you, Cutey! Shame on me! Not exactly coming to you from NY CITY,,,,,,,a bit further UPstate aka "an entirely different world!"

Nice Poetry as with everything you create. I hope you and yours ( & of course, Darby) are well, safe & happy. In fact, Mr Traveler, in what part of the country are you & your canine partner, these days?

Wishing you Love & Peace, Paula

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 10, 2020:

Thank you, Brenda.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on April 09, 2020:


I shared this poem.


BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on April 09, 2020:


Your poem tells the heartfelt story of many hearts.

We are all afraid. I imagine the first responders are more afraid than anyone else since they are dealing with this struggle right up front.

I can understand wanting to hold his hand but bring too afraid at the same time.

Great write.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 05, 2020:

MG Singh, Thank you for your comment. I'm not sure anyone is in control. If that is the case, then it is up to us to care for the planet and its citizens. NYC is important primarily because of the people. That goes for every other city in the world and the countrysides as well. We are the only beings capable of caring for the planet and each other. Up to now, we haven't done a very good job.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on April 05, 2020:

I have been to New York and love the place. Your poem was simply wonderful and left an ache in my heart for the city.If God controls everything I wonder how he has selected New York for 9/11 as well as the present Coronavirus.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 05, 2020:

Genna, Thank you. You are right. It will pass at an enormous cost.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 05, 2020:

Your poem is brave and genuine, Chris, and reflects the tears we have shed for those innocents who are dying...alone. Feelings of helplessness break our hearts. All we can do is encourage everyone to adhere to the distancing, stay home whenever possible, wear face masks, gloves, and so forth, to protect ourselves and each other. "This, too, shall pass," but at an enormous cost.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 04, 2020:

Venkatachari M, Bless you during this time of isolation. I hope you are able to communicate with family and friends. Let's hope it will be over in weeks, but be prepared for months. Stay safe, my friend.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 04, 2020:

Rasma, I did not know your hometown was NYC. I understand the tendency of people to move out of the city during this crisis, but it is only spreading the disease to a wider area. I hope everything is well for you down in Florida. That is another hotbed.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 04, 2020:

Liz, I've been watching Italy and Spain as well. The numbers and the videos are heartbreaking. The world is one right now as we battle this virus. I like that feeling. I hope we can hold onto it as we move beyond the crisis.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 04, 2020:

Ann, thank you. Your commitment to self isolate for 12 weeks is an example for the rest of the world. It has taken so long for people to even grasp the purpose for self isolating. One quarter of us has the virus and we don't know it...never will unless we are tested. If I assume I have the virus, I will act like I have it and stay away from others. That is how we will win. Good for you Ann, for doing what all of us should be doing.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on April 04, 2020:

Very sad about New York and the USA with so many positive cases and deaths. Here we are under lockdown for a whole 21 days. Today is the 11th day. Only grocery, milk, and vegetable shops are allowed to be open from 8 AM to 12 Noon. I go out only for the vegetables and some medicines. Other things are purchased online on the home-delivery basis.

Keep hope it will become normal again in some weeks.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on April 04, 2020:

NYC is my hometown and I feel terrible about what is happening. Then again I know that you could not expect anything better because people always live real close in NY. I guess if I lived there now I would move out to the Catskill Mountains if I could to wait it out. I keep praying and hoping for this to end and to save everyone involved.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 04, 2020:

This is a moving and heartfelt poem. You have captured the sad time that we are all in extremely well. It's like we are all trapped in a sci-fi novel, unable to escape. From the UK, we see the statistics racing up for Italy, Spain and New York, as COVID-19 spreads through our country too.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 04, 2020:

This is a hard-hitting poem, Chris. Fortunately, I do not directly know any of the ones affected badly. However, I would want to help them but would feel inadequate to go to their sides - we would be stopped anyway. How hard it is to feel helpless.

My partner and I are in self-isolation for 12 weeks (we're through 2 weeks of it now). It's not so bad for us but seeing the troubles of New York and London, amongst many more, my heart goes out to them. How brave our doctors and nurses are.

You've brought the raw truth to the fore here. All we can do is help where we can and pray it dies down before too long.

A well-crafted verse, Chris.


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 03, 2020:

Pamela, you were a nurse. You know what is going on in NYC and other parts of the world right now. Doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and technicians are caring for the sick. Many are getting sick as a result. Some are and have died. Pamela, you have done your part. Be an encourager from the safety of your home. Be safe and well, my friend.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 03, 2020:

Dear Ruby, Please stay home. Did you know 21,000 healthcare workers from outside the State of NY volunteered to go and help. Someone is doing it for me. I dare not go. I know my lungs would not withstand it. I had pneumonia last fall and thought I would die. If I got this virus, I am afraid the outcome would not be good..

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 03, 2020:

Shauna, Thank you again for scensing what I was thinking as I wrote. I wanted most of all to touch on the helpless feeling many of us feel. We listen to news broadcasts, watch briefings, and hear about heroes. We want to do our part. The word helpless seems to cover it well. Out part, I suppose, is to stay home. One quarter of us would test positive for covid-19 and show no symptoms. If that is me, the best thing I can do is not to come into contact with other people.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 03, 2020:

Mitara N, is this the first time we have met? I believe it is. Thank you for all of your kind comments. Stay safe in your part of the world.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 03, 2020:

Bill, I have my reasons too. I don't know if they are copouts, but I've seriously looked them over. I'm already working in a hospital, so I'm involved indirectly. The laboratory work I do is not at this time related to the virus. Later, as we begin seeing patients with lung issues related to the virus, I'm sure I will be more directly involved. Thanks for your comment.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 03, 2020:

Lorna, I am glad the poem struck you emotionally. Sometimes when I am watching the news and presidential briefings, tears roll down my face. The numbers are real people. Stay safe.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 03, 2020:

As a retired nurse I feel the same as everyone else. I worked hard for many years but would do it again if I was able. I will be so glad when this virus starts to deminish. I love you poem about this sad situation.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 03, 2020:

I know your feelings so well, being a nurse, I should be there. When they asked for healthcare workers to please come, I felt the need to go but fear was my companion and I remained at home.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 03, 2020:

It's a helpless feeling, isn't it Chris? I've seen photos of COVID-19 victims being lined up outside hospitals, moved by forklifts. So cold. So sad.

Mitara N from South Africa on April 03, 2020:


A heartfelt thank you from the bottom of our hearts, being a medical specialist you are considered absolute heroes and heroines, in this attempt to fight the fight of the world.

Your poem is inspirational, and as I read feel the hurt as you have experience it.

The greatest and utmost respect to you.

Take care and be safe

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 03, 2020:

I don't think it is cowardice at all. There are some things we just cannot do, and this is one of them. At least that's what I tell myself. :(

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 03, 2020:

Lorna, I hope we are stronger too. It will be interesting to watch and see how we have changed after this is over. I'm hopimg for positive changes.

Lorna Lamon on April 03, 2020:

So heartbreaking Chris and I was stunned by the way this virus has attacked New York. I can feel your pain through your words and the harsh reality of this situation played out across the world. We are all in this together and I pray this makes us stronger. Take care and stay safe.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 02, 2020:

John, We are entering the worst of it. So hard to watch those suffering. I work in a hospital and we are required to wear masks. One quarter of us are infected, but have no symptoms and could be spreading the virus. So we wear masks to keep others safe if we happen to be infected.

But NYC, it leaves me feeling helpless.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on April 02, 2020:

What a heart-wrenching poem, Chris. At the start of this it was easy to say that it was just media hype blowing another new flu strain out of proportion, but now the seriousness of this virus has really set in and many of us have friends and family infected, it is hard not to be afraid. The sad part is people in hospital dying all alone..their families unable to be at their side.

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