"On a clear bright day": A series of poems
Over the past twenty years I have tried to articulate my thoughts about the events of 9/11 through poetry. Here then are those poems. [Editor's note: due to space four of eighteen poems are posted.]
"WE TAKE YOU NOW, LIVE, TO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER"
I was in New York City
on the t.v.end of things
working in the Disaster Factory.
Covering wars, train wrecks, executions with stiff du jours.
Broadcast news is not a life or death matter.
Miss a deadline and nobody dies.
8:46 am - Take live feed of World Trade Center's north tower,
downtown Manhattan. Take live camera shot of
burning hole from plane crash accident.
9:02 am - Take live shot of plane crashing into World
Trade Center's south tower.
We all realized
we were part of the news.
9:59 am - Take live shot of south tower collapsing.
We watched in silence. First the television screen, then each other.
10:28 am - Take live shot of north tower collapsing.
No sarcastic inside jokes.
The kind of jokes hospital workers make
to wash away the blood stains.
The kind of jokes soldiers make to put death in its place.
The kind of jokes we would make
to rise above the daily carnage.
Nobody ever made a joke.
"Have you see my son Bernard?"
"If you see Marie Louise Alvarez,
please call (212) 867-0001."
last seen Tuesday morning at One World Trade Center."
Rows upon rows of faces
taped to lamp posts, store fronts,
where the eye of the passerby
and the eye of the photograph
Lost in a wilderness
of twisted trunks of steel
and strewn petals of paper.
With no compass to bring them back
from the land of the dead.
"WORKING AT FRESHKILL"
The trash mountains at Freshkill's Dump
are snowcapped by hungry seagulls.
There a man works,
sorting out the bags
filled with steel and bone and paper and dust from a September 11th day.
Identifying all things human.
A tennis-shoe foot. A wedding ring finger.
A short sleeve arm.
Picking and bagging,
trying to make sense of the fragments.
He walks along the Freshkill landscape
careful not to break anything unseen.
The sun is dropping.
He stacks his bags and
heads for home.
"THOUGHTS ON SEPTEMBER 11th"
May the sun shine down
on all those unique and precious
lost forever souls,
we reclaim as a hallowed thing,
from all words.