Editors Blog

10 Years of 9/11 Poetry

Poetic Asides regular Bruce Niedt, who wrote a great WCW deconstruct yesterday, left an interesting suggestion for me via e-mail last night:

With the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks coming up this Sunday, why not invite members to share their poetry on the subject – either poems they wrote soon after the events, or more recent poetry reflecting on that day from a 10-year perspective. I wrote at least a dozen poems in the wake of the event, some of which were not my best, but about two or three that still held up pretty well over time. Anyway, I thought it would be interesting (and hopefully won’t spawn too many heated political arguments).

First off, let me echo the sentiment about the heated political arguments. Share your poetry on the left, the right, the middle, but don’t go attacking someone else’s perspective or creative output on this blog. I’m not into bullying, whether it’s kids against kids or poets against poets. Respect each other.

Second, let’s do this. I think this is a great idea from Bruce. I know I’ve written several 9/11-inspired poems myself. In fact, many non-9/11 poems I’ve written, I’m sure, have been written in a post-9/11 worldview. I’ll see if I can hunt some of those older poems down.

Please share your 9/11-inspired poems (new and old) in the comments below. Encourage your friends and family to share their own contributions too. We’re still dealing with the aftershocks of 9/11, but it’s important to show how we’ve progressed, regressed, and not changed at all as a result.

In the meantime, here’s a new attempt from me:

“All the way home”

What I remember most is the sky
was a blank slate of blue and that nobody
seemed to know the whole story. I drove
home through contradicting juxtapositions–
even the birds seemed to be grounded.
All the way home, I spotted vulnerable
targets. My dreams that night–when I could
finally get to sleep–involved men with guns
and loud voices. But the next morning,
I dressed for work and started living again. 

*****

Again, please share your 9/11 poems and remember to be respectful.

 

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96 thoughts on “10 Years of 9/11 Poetry

  1. Hhawkins

    The Falling Man

    There are people lying everywhere
    This is really quite the scare
    Death and destruction is all I can see
    No hope in my future at all for me
    There’s nowhere to run and nowhere to go
    I might as well go with the flow
    I quickly join the cluster by the window
    Praying my wife won’t be a widow
    The heat is becoming way too extreme
    Far too vivid to be a dream
    Smoke too thick to even breathe
    I take one look down and heave
    Oh my gosh! Look up they say
    It’s a bird, it’s a plane
    Not in anyway
    It’s an innocent man falling to his death
    Unable to catch his breath
    It’s not the ground growing closer he saw
    It’s memories of loved ones, real and raw
    He said his goodbyes in his head
    For soon he knew he’d be dead
    He snaps to reality
    Right before his fatality
    And realizes, he is the falling man

    As of right now, I have at least 10 more poems I’ve written. So, if anybody likes these ones let me know, and I will post some other ones.

  2. Hhawkins

    The Work of a Devil

    Silence fell upon the streets
    It was hard to bare the excruciating heat
    Flames filled with immense power
    Burning harshly from the towers
    A thick cloud of smoke quickly covers the city
    There’s absolutely no time for pity
    Firefighters and cops must jump into action
    For they have not a second to waste, not even a fraction
    People watch from near and far
    And try to understand things as they are
    Volunteers entered the belly of the beast
    They were heroes to say the very least
    People jumping from every floor
    It was impossible to use the door
    Others merely found their way
    And barely managed to get away
    We the people had to learn and embrace
    And stare death right in the face
    The building collapsed level by level
    This surely had to be the work of a devil
    People run as ash covers the streets
    But it’s far too fast to beat
    Cars, people, and buildings covered in black
    It seems this country is under attack
    Nearly impossible to breathe or see
    Bringing people straight to their knees
    Hoping and praying for a breath of fresh air
    Trying not to look, trying not to stare
    As they see the creation
    Of a great devastation
    Fiery doom in every room
    Causing so many to take a dive
    That will surely end their lives
    As they plunge to the ground
    Never to be found
    The downfall of the towers
    In those few short hours
    Caused so many to be devoured
    In the fiery ash showers
    Ending much pain
    Definitely not in vein
    Laying many to rest
    Those were the ones who were truly blessed

    I am doing a portfolio for one of my classes. I picked the theme 9/11. I just wanted somewhere to share my work with others.

  3. Mike Bayles

    In Shadows and Memories

    I live in shadows of two great towers
    and a national tragedy,
    when two plane planes struck
    ten years ago.
    Great plumes of smoke
    out of firemen’s reach
    clouded clear skies
    while inside me
    a silent terror stirred,
    questions of who would live or die.
    All I could do was watch
    when two towers fell,
    and all I could do was listen
    to silence of stilled thoughts.
    When the world stopped for the day
    under the weight of grief,
    all I could do was turn to friends
    to find my relief.
    We talked about mysteries of life,
    or talked about nothing at all,
    unsure of the final toll,
    when facing a loss
    I still cannot understand.

  4. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Sept 11
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    I remember where I was
    the morning of Sept 11th,
    when smoke billowed out of towers
    and made faces at the Manhattan skyline
    110 stories above God,
    raining concrete and steel
    glass and soft tissue
    amid pavement, parked cars, and rooftops,
    millions of tv screens the world over.
    200 jumped to their deaths rather than
    give in to the resulting fires,
    hundreds more killed by the impact,
    while the rest perished, trapped
    by toxic smoke and debris
    after the towers collapsed
    just hours after the first plane hit.

    This was the day
    my humanity was ripped from me
    by Al-Qaeda claws,
    3000 plus dead
    6000 plus injured,
    innocents sacrificed on the altar of religion
    and perception of American values
    while the World took stock of their lives,
    and I of mine.
    Stunned, numbed, crushed, embittered
    I held my breath and
    lit candles for weeks,
    unable to eat
    unable to sleep
    the television blaring 24/7
    while a great city bled
    and a great country grieved
    in the arms of sympathetic great nations,
    and everyone wondered aloud
    how could Hatred be so charismatic?
    And a President cautioned patience
    and implored his countrymen not
    to take revenge against his fellow
    Muslim-American neighbor while
    I nervously started locking my door.
    I cried and raged and
    lost my terrorist virginity
    as Ground Zero became
    the new Arlington cemetery
    of our generation
    and those still around me
    the new casualties of war.

    © 2011 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  5. drwasy

    These are beautiful — thank you all. Back after a week of no internet/phone/tv (thank you floods). Here is mine, an attempt at a sestina. I rewrite this every year, tweaking here and there. It is still not finished, but will it ever be? Peace…

    IN MEMORIAM

    Perfect day dawned in brilliant blue,
    shocking canvas of contrast: planes
    fly black against far-flung heaven.
    Even unbelieving prayer
    muttered with quiet resigned breaths
    can not foretell or forestall stains

    gouging ground, splintering sky, staining
    steel, scuttled lives, exhaling blue,
    imploding in hydraulic breaths
    screaming through city, hill, and plain.
    Common words, sweet sacred prayers
    lip-synched by believers heaven

    sent from hell to transform heaven
    marked by the golden crescent, stain
    of a singular god and prayer,
    cloaked in cheap polyester blue,
    costume of the West, boarding planes
    inhaling, exhaling, one breath

    holy comingling with all breaths,
    lifting as one to make heaven
    on earth, to be done, in the plane.
    It is foretold, on pages stained
    sepia older than time, blue
    ink and red seeping in prayer.

    Father, mother, children all – pray
    the ancient songs with soft breaths,
    for God cannot hear in this blue
    twilight; sing who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy name, thy love stained
    by unseen portents, for the plane

    is a steel-bound casket, the plane
    pulses with souls insistent, prey
    trembling, mortal flesh and smoke-stained,
    metal-wrapped in a dragon’s breath.
    For the meek, the blessed, to heaven
    will float ashen to brilliant blue.

    Blue sky trailed by white plane flumes
    marking a heaven all pray exists;
    God’s breath stained by metal and fire.

  6. Linda.H

    I finally found mine.

    No Need for Translation

    Alone in a hotel room in a foreign land I switched on
    the television in the hope of finding some sort of
    entertainment but discovered something else instead.

    I couldn’t grasp every word but the footage
    needed no translation. People all over the world
    were witnessing an American tragedy unfold.

    As I flipped through channels, the images of planes
    flying into the towers repeated over and over again.
    Each time the reality sank a bit deeper into my bones

    until I felt old and aged, like my grandmother
    as she rested in her wooden rocking chair,
    her frail body riddled with arthritis.

    In silence I sat watching one of the painful truths
    of the human condition, knowing the doctor could
    offer no relief from the aches of this malady.

  7. Mikki S

    And The Eagle Cried

    She spread her wings and flew across the blue skies,
    Rejoicing in the brilliance and freshness of the new day.
    She swooped and swerved high over the towers below
    Until the steel monster from the land of Hate flew beneath her.

    She watched, not understanding, as the towers she teased
    Burst into fire, and flames and smoke turned her world dark.
    She found a perch and folded her trembling wings
    As all that she stood for crumbled around her

    And the Eagle cried.

    She saw her land, her America, her land of freedom,
    For which she so proudly stood as a symbol
    Falling, falling, falling, into heaps of ash and debris.
    More than that, she saw fear turn into abject terror.

    She watched her people cry, scream, run away
    From a scene only imaginable in horror films.
    But she knew this was no movie from which
    She could easily fly away. There was no escape here.

    And the Eagle cried.

    The personification of Evil sat across miles of ocean
    And clapped his hands and laughed as the pictures of
    Death and destruction came to him over the television.
    He couldn’t have been happier: America was dying!

    He was wrong. As Evil most often is.

    They came from everywhere: the firemen, the police,
    The doctors, the nurses, the people on the street.
    They gave no thought to their own lives or safety
    For they had a common purpose: to save those they could

    Many of those everyman and everywoman also died today.

    And the Eagle cried.

    But America does not give in to those who exemplify hate,
    Who would render God’s grace and love impotent.
    America is one land, one nation, one people
    Indivisible by those who spread Hate around the world.

    Americans will join hands around this great country
    And show the world the Courage, the Dignity, and the
    Unity that we Americans are known for.

    We wept today. We grieved today.
    We will never forget today.
    Today will join another and will live in infamy forever.
    But we will be stronger, and we will be nobler because of today.

    We are a grieving nation, but with that grief comes strength.
    Our flags will fly higher and more proudly than ever.
    Our tears will cleanse our souls, and God will hold
    All of America in the palm of His hand, and give us solace.

    And the Eagle will never cry again.

    1. Marie Elena

      Mikki, I am SO glad you posted out here!

      All, this is my friend Mikki. We “met” at the Institute of Children’s Literature. She does not consider herself a poet, but obviously she does poetry quite beautifully when inspired.

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