New York City After Dark: A Poem
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New York City After Dark: A Poem

Light On NYC
 Franck Bohbot/INSTITUTE

The city that never sleeps has a mystery and a timelessness after dark.

Those qualities are captured here in images by the photographer Franck Bohbot, from his new book Light on New York City, and in this poem, commissioned by Travel + Leisure, by New York native Rowan Ricardo Phillips.

A Tale of Two Cities

City above the city and city
Below the city. The diners, theaters,
Dance spots and dives all late-light strobed life
Sumptuous as solitude that knows it’s not
Loneliness like the blue blue-green peacock
Who gales open, waits, doubts and does not doubt.
There is a city above the city
That thinks of you as you think of it: sky,
That you are the sky to it, and these buildings,
Iridescent in thick night like flora
And fauna, are its clouds. We all are part
Of some other distant constellation,
A chanced-on font you see on a marquee
When you look out and then up,
When you think the thought that gets caught in air
And rises from your head like steam in the thaw—
That is the city above the city
Calling out to you through the blued spectrum,
That veiled feeling you keep to yourself of
The time you stood on a street and could swear
Some part, some magnificent part of you
Had just turned into a fish and opened
Up upwards into the darkness, the light,
The darkness, the light, the darkness, the light.

Lights On NYC
Franck Bohbot/INSTITUTE

Franck Bohbot is a New York-based photographer who specializes in images of urban spaces. His "Light On" portfolio, shot between 2013 and 2015, documents the nocturnal luminescence of New York City's stores, hotels, restaurants, delis, theaters, and more. A new book collecting this work, Light on New York, is out now from from TeNeues Publishing.

Rowan Ricardo Phillips is the award-winning New York-based author of two books of poetry, The Ground and Heaven, both published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and a collection of essays, When Blackness Rhymes With Blackness.

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