Poem found, New Jersey
Seeking an orphaned piece of wreckage
In a voluminous burial mound of rubble,
Dust perches on a picture frame.
The alighting powder so infinitesimal,
Separate specks invisible to the human eye.
The billows of cinder and ash
Descend languidly from the sky.
An unusual angel of death
Lays down a quilt of despair over a mourning city,
Blanketing the world in a mantle of ruin.
Scattered debris taints the majestic metropolis
A fascinating kind of snow
Clothes the city in unbefitting apparel,
Covering the picture frame
And the face within it.
A photograph of a baby girl
Dressed in Sunday best
Perfect smile sparkling through golden ringlets
Giant blue eyes
Radiating affection and faith.
Dust lands on the child’s holy smile,
An exploited emblem of a nation’s naiveté,
A loss of security and consolation.
No name is attached to the picture.
It is a refugee in an uncertain world.
The sound of weeping emanates from the land.
God Himself grieves in anguish.
A man silently grasps the picture frame and
Gently wipes it with a tattered sleeve
But somehow the dust remains.
Poem Found at a Coffee Shop in the East Village
The Twin Towers
Are about to fall
Is that a plane?
It’s about to crash
Look at that plane!
about to collapse
to the Twin Towers?
No time to speak
I imagine it speaking to me:
Who created you? Man?
Because Man created us and Man destroyed us.
Why were we placed on this earth?
Look at my twin and I standing here so tall,
Nothing will ever penetrate these walls.
From here we could see New Jersey, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx,
And the beautiful bridges connecting them all.
We stand tall,
And we share with our people the luxury of seeing it all.
We were never selfish,
We will never die,
We will always protect and provide,
But on September 11, 2001 everything came to a halt.
I remember waking seeing my twin,
The light reflecting and bouncing within.
Eternally, we were feeling fulfilled,
But, now I don’t know we might have been ill.
Something was wrong with my twin,
The horror of it all was a sin.
How can I help you, my twin?
How can I protect the ones within?
What can I do to save you?
This is unreal I am experiencing the same thing.
Please my twin, stay strong,
Don’t leave me, this is so wrong,
Remember there are thousands of people depending on our lives,
We can not die,
We have to survive.
How much longer can we stand?
I don’t know I need your hand,
I can’t reach you,
I am hurt,
Why are you falling to the dirt?
Now, I feel a jerk.
I won’t have time to explain this to the world,
I wish I had a chance, but I am collapsing to the floor,
Now the world will never know that we love them all.
September 11, 2001
Looking South on Greenwich Street
There is a welling within me
Born of sadness, then of anger,
That wants to release a frightful energy
But produces just a tear-streaming down my cheek.
Watching helpless as
All fondness unexpressed,
All farewells unspoken,
All smiles unseen,
In that horrific second-erased.
Such a cruel reminder of the sanctity of moment,
With the past as simply prologue,
And the future unknown and unsure.
It’s not enough this single tear.
A waterfall of tears is not enough.
All the tears will not ease
The sorrow of that azure day
When two irate-piloted comets
Flashed across the morning sun
And crushed a universe, just like that.
Twin Towers #8
By the people at ‘Words that Comfort: Benefit Readings to Support the World Trade Center Relief Fund 10/17/01’ — Edited By Claudia Alick
1. What can we say 2. Eyes twitch nervously 3. deliberately 4. Perhaps it’s allergy season 5. Please Bridge the Allergy’s to a standstill 6. Think, Peace, Speak Peace, Pray for Peace, Live in Peace 7. Believe in man. 8. Blue, Blue, as he is. 9. Much Love...Much Style 10. Wait awhile 11. Without 12. Knowledge There is no Understanding of 13. Above and you’ll find nothing there 14. The substance which lingers lives in our eyes 15. Burrows down into my belly, building a house 16. and what bird said truth? 17. A table. a chair. a Love. a window. 18. it all meant more, this time, the window. 19. next time the giraffe 20. win defeat the lion 21. No! Blake’s lamb O skin skinless we? 22. No Joke is Joking’s fee 23. except to let go, free 24. to be what? To be normal? Are you kidding? 25. it’s a joke if you want it to be 26. the only thing that is ‘normal’ is change. 27. And our understanding of ‘normal’ will never be the same 28. we shall recreate ‘normal’, peace and our sense of security 29. will grow with each passing day. 30. The courage of trees to dare to live among us 31. and bring us to the yellow mountain with stars 32. and lie by the clear stream watching the wavelet crest 33. and in cresting our waves we are waves 34. Blood. Lust. Greed. Sty. Fly. 35. And from these lists- sorted, clean, valued- we shall name our sins. 36. Place them in envelopes and mail them to our souls 37. and rise to the occasion, along with the light 38. and swing the notion of nation into a river 39. The Hearts that shook and stand a Quiver 40. Two brothers stand Tall, High and proud 41. on an otherwise perfect day, life was changed forever- 42. Shall we never forget what a beautiful day it started out as 43. Or how calm it all seemed before the fall 44. Fear. Anxiety. Rage. Impotence. Uncertainty. This is now my life. 45. For victims of terrorism everywhere 46. terrorists only come in shades of brown, speak another language and practice war as religion 47. and the world, of streams, cities, rivers and huts grows tired. 48. Tired of the maze-ish girls and reams of rows, city streets, 49. Paper houses burn and blow downwind overhead beyond belief 50. is a figment, a fissure, a rapt nothingness of ash and debris 51. Smoke, ash, mirrors of our reflection 52. Seeing Being Alive in the Heart of All 53. broken parts repaired in rivers 54. the city now has ruins 55. but tears can’t clear the eyes and heart 56. Live and let Live 57. Shadows twirl to blades, call me survivor 58. I stand on the wings of those before me, Assata! 59. And I am thankful to see so far- 60. And it is fear that has reminded me that I have moved for anything but 61. Love for I was born out of love to love words in you 62. And this in the town under the town that is really a seahorse 63. I release is relief, let it be. 64. for if the universe has a goal, it is for each of us to be free 65. gathering the light, connecting to our kindness and compassion, gathering the light.
Editor’s note: Imagine it is a crisp fall evening, just cold enough to need a jacket. Maybe you pause to smoke a cigarette outside the doors. Maybe you enter The New School Tishman Auditorium. Are you one of the performers? Are you a famous or powerful person there to give your time? Are you a working poet? Are you the sister of a fireman who can not come tonight because of Anthrax emergencies? Are you a little girl who will read the poem that will make the audience cry? Are you a struggling artist very excited to be in the same space as a personal hero? Are you an African drummer? Are you a confused New School student who just happens to be in the building and you don’t know what’s going on? Each person was allowed to view the previous line. All other lines were covered by a folder. Each person was allowed only to write one line. Writing took place before and during, and after the performances. Spelling has been corrected. Case and punctuation were retained. This poem is a reaction to Sept 11, 2001. It is about the people at the Word that Comfort Benefit. It is also about what people think poetry is.
— Claudia Alick
This benefit reading to support the WTC Relief Fund was held at the New School, Tischman Auditorium, 66 West 12th St., from 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday October 17, 2001