"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.]


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."

"Sonny O'Neil,

   last seen Tuesday morning at One World Trade Center."


Rows upon rows of faces

taped to lamp posts, store fronts,

any surface

where the eye of the passerby

and the eye of the photograph

will collide.


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.



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.

Recovering relics.

He walks along the Freshkill landscape

careful not to break anything unseen.

The sun is dropping.

He stacks his bags and

heads for home.



May the sun shine down

on all those unique and precious

lost forever souls,

whose memory

we reclaim as a hallowed thing,


from all words.


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