Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 through poetry

I had not intended to publish these here.  I had not intended to publish them anywhere, really.  But I was reading some others' reactions to 9/11 and I was suddenly compelled to talk about my own. I could discuss in great detail the deep depression that came over me for perhaps a month, despite knowing no one directly affected by the event.  I could talk about my sister's getting a flag tattooed on her previously unmarked arm, a seemingly extreme but I think, now, emotionally understandable response to the trauma.  I could talk about remaining glued to the TV despite the pain it caused me to watch those pictures and videos over and over and over and over...or the abject horror of sitting through the raw footage shot by that documentary filmmaker embedded with the firemen who were in the Towers.  I did watch.  I forced myself to.  I felt I had to.  But, far simpler, I decided to share three brief poems that, in three different ways, get at the ways I have reacted to this seminal event in American--and my--history.
Photos hidden away

i still can’t look at the pictures.
so many years later,
the thick white ash
a fragment of a
bad dream,
the reams of papers
from the smoky sky
in a nightmare hurricane
just an image from
some long past mirage,
and the headlines—
the headlines—
called up in the animated
of no-longer buildings
and used-to-be people—
the headlines
i read then, and
folded away
to keep for
someone else’s posterity and
never have seen again
and never will
bring the surreal
vision to the too real
where the pictures
of flames shooting from
of buildings collapsing
into smoke
are not magicians’ illusions
as they should be
as they would be if
the world were

Stumbling upon ground zero

driving one day through
lower manhattan
i was struck
by the sudden increase
in security.
the u.n. i said to my daughter,
and then,
oh god,
do you know where we are?
her face shifted for
one moment and she knew:
i don’t want to see it,
she said,
and i understood,
but we have to,
i said, we have to,
so we drove around the block
where a giant hole still sat
in the ground
so many years later
and there we stood,
while hawkers
sold souvenirs on
the walk behind us
and someone literally
on a soap box
blathered about blame,
staring in absolute
at crossed
metal bars
at an american flag
at a vast expanse
of still-nothing
at the price
of freedom.


I’m not proud of this:
When it happened, I was teaching.
It was a sophomore class, just a normal
Tuesday morning.
When a colleague alerted me,
I turned on the radio
And sat.
Just sat.
The newscaster spoke of the confusion,
Of the plane striking,
Of the second plane and
The news from Washington,
And I simply sat.
When the period ended
I suppose the students assumed
That they should leave
And just moved on,
For the next class took their places.
And we all just sat,
When the buildings fell, we sat.
Small cries escaped us.
But we did not move.
I heard later that some of my colleagues
Taught their lessons that day,
Kept their heads together
And bulled ahead.
I was not among them.
I was unable to function for days.
Weeks, really.
I’m not proud of this.
I’m not.
I wish I were stronger.
I wish we all were.

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it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

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