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…


    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.

  8. AC Leming

    Flight 93

    I saw Jesus in a cloudbank
    when I was 7 years old, flying
    high above Canada,
    hands spread in a benediction
    over the earth.

    Did those brave souls on
    Flight 93 feel the same benediction
    when they decided the better part
    of valor lay in an isolated field in Pennsylvania,
    when they gave up their lives in a mad rush to the cockpit
    so that other targets, other Americans would survive?

  9. Dyson McIllwain

    And The Beacons Reached Skyward

    Across the pond, upon my Isle
    I stand witness to the resurgence,
    a ressurection of spirit and will.
    It is a thrill to watch as the phoenix
    rises to prominence and inching
    back toward the dominance that
    has prevailed e’er these many years.
    World wide wonder offered up
    for the masses as the Lady Liberty
    extends her gratitude for not
    giving in to terror. And in the nearby
    distance as the fall of night draws nigh,
    a shadow of memory rises skyward.
    Beacons burst from the footprint,
    through the Reflective Pools
    of respect and remembrance to shine.
    Once again they stand, if only as
    towers of light illuminating; eminating
    from the Ground Zero entombment,
    releasing every soul long buried
    to follow the path toward the heavens;
    following the light homeward.

  10. cstewart

    Reflection 9/11

    In the distance,
    Somewhere far away,
    A trumpet was heard,
    And a Broken Hearted Melody
    Played innocently in the wind,
    And dust was reformed –
    In a place we imagine
    But do not know.
    By hands we feel,
    But can not see.
    And Lada Gaga sang
    Into the mirror,
    On the Edge of Glory,
    For everyone else.

  11. Ray in DC

    “Ten Years”

    After ten years, most memories go away,
    But 9-11 still seems like yesterday.

    I remember the first responders running in
    And then seeing the towers burn and cave in.

    I remember the heroism of those who fought back
    Against the cowardly terrorist attack.

    I remember feeling stunned disbelief,
    And when my family was together, relief.

    I remember volunteering at the Pentagon,
    A big piece of which was incongruously gone.

    I ended up driving around other volunteers
    While trying to choke back my tears.

    It’s wasn’t much, compared to what others gave,
    Their fellow Americans to protect and save.

    But that little bit was something I had to do,
    And many others felt that way too.

    My daughters were young and don’t really remember
    What happened on that sunny day in September.

    But for me, those feelings will never fade,
    Even after another decade.

    (For more, go to http://newsericks.com/tag/9-11.)

  12. Walt Wojtanik


    A principle was attacked amidst
    tears and destruction; a surreal snapshot
    of a day worth forgetting. But no one did.
    How do you forget the sight; the sound?
    How do you forget the faces; the screams?
    How do you diminish the sacrifice?
    The word ‘impossible’ was tailor made
    for this moment in time. Despair and
    disbelief would be usurped by anger
    and determination to not allow those who
    put it all on the line, go quietly into that good night.
    It became a fight to rise each day to face
    the insurmountable task one brick at a time.
    As many bricks as there were tears shed.
    As many shards of glass as there were screams
    of torment and terror. But the greatest error
    made by a faceless ideology was assuming
    we were broken and defeated. But the foresight
    of three brothers of the fraternity most depleted
    showed we were not defeated. Through the rubble
    it stood in defiance. A naked flagpole planted
    among the girders and debris. A symbol; our banner
    raised high. A declaration loud and clear.
    We are still here. We will not go gently.
    Together we stand, a shield for liberty.
    You took your shot and failed. An American Tale…
    and the flag was still there! America had been blessed.

  13. Marie Elena

    (A Found Poem)

    Today is September 11, 2001,
    And all is right with the world.
    A sunny morning.
    Nothing out of the ordinary.

    But the television changed its clothes today:
    Crashing planes, falling towers, and ashen people
    Running in a loop
    People in freefall are a pixel or two wide on TV.

    Twin Towers, Reduced
    To a huge crematorium of jet fuel, concrete,
    And superheated steel.
    Burning unfathomable holes,
    Marking the place hearts crumbled to ground zero
    on an ordinary September morning.
    And lest we forget,
    They held no ill will
    Standing still while liberty had shown the way.

    Pieces of souls rained down;
    I could not stop your fall from grace.
    Voiceless tears,
    And cries of anguish,
    Never silenced.
    Our vulnerability and grief,
    No chance
    to say “I love you.”

    Watching the very sky fall,
    I wondered how much fire, how much fear
    Would make me leap
    Hoping that perhaps
    Just this once,
    Instead of falling,
    I might fly.

    Death and smoke, an unholy joke.
    Thousands buried without ceremony or warning.
    Counting was odd in those melted clock days.
    Even the birds seemed to be grounded.

    A band of stranger-heroes lifts the horn of courage,
    Sounds it so we hear it
    Clear across the country.

    Strangers became family,
    Angry, sad, and tired.
    United in terror and pride.

    Patriotism became a cherished word so dear.
    We once again hung flags to show our love.

    Love never dies,
    We remind ourselves
    In verdant pastures, He gives them repose.

    Autumn leaves the silence of remembrance.
    Normal has been redefined.
    We pray to God, Jehovah, and yes, even Allah,
    or whatever god or gods we think will listen.

    Keep loved ones close.
    Do not lead out of fear.
    Defend out of honor and respect.
    It takes no strength to fight for right
    When fear is far away.

    If we look at the bow of Manhattan’s mouth, see where
    two teeth were ripped out, bloodied, we can tell
    it is remembering how to smile.

    Now we question our own laughter;
    We own up to our mortality.
    And some say darkness may have won
    But tell me, can you quench the Sun?

    (Sincere gratitude to Robert, Walt, LadyJai, Bruce, Iain, Daniel, cstewart, Taylor, Connie, Sharon, Joseph, De, Paula, Nancy, RJ, Sara, Pearl, Barbara, Salvatore, and Cara for your heart-felt sentiments … so beautifully and poignantly penned. I hope my little “found poem” does justice to your brilliantly expressed sentiments.)

    1. PKP

      Ah Marie… You know how much I delighted in writing such ‘tapestries’…. Even more delighted to read yours…. and I quote you “so beautifully and poignantly penned” …. Thanks you for as you would have said “this labor of love.”

    2. lionmother

      Marie, I am so honored to be part of your poem and to be in the company of fellow poets whose words and images are so strong they bring me back to that day in an instant. Thank you so much for including my sentiments here.

  14. PKP

    Marie….I absolutely agree…there are stunning words from full hearts and keen eyes that sensitively see and it is a balm to one’s soul to be one among such richness of spirit ….

  15. SalvatoreButtaci


    A flag in the window,
    some candles on the step.
    A neighbor cries easily now.
    He tells us, “I cannot leave
    my brothers resting there.
    I will pick my way past
    jagged steel and listen
    for their whispers climbing
    from the ruins.”

    A flag in the window,
    some candles on the step.
    A little girl kisses
    the framed picture of
    her smiling father.
    She and her brother
    want to know,
    “When is Daddy coming home?”
    In the other room Mommy gags
    her tears into a handkerchief.

    A flag in the window,
    some candles on the step.
    A survivor races
    from the fallen tower
    like a grey statue come to life,
    then races back to save
    a stranger. “She was lying there,
    dazed and bleeding,” he says.
    “I carried her out but
    she died in my arms.”

    A flag in the window,
    some candles on the step.
    A Tuesday-morning moment
    changes our lives forever.
    Now we question our own laughter,
    we own up to our mortality,
    and while the TV flashes
    scenes from hell, you and I hold hands
    to keep from feeling lonely.


  16. PKP

    Morning TV

    I was cautioned from
    early childhood about
    the threat of morning tv
    turning intellect to mush
    and so it always sat quiet
    and dark, except for that
    bright september morn at 8:45
    when for some reason I
    rebelled, lazily tuned in
    and within a moment
    sat in shocked stupification
    in the mush of my mind
    incapable of thought
    stricken to stare
    hour after hour as the
    crystal blue sky
    shattered into
    crashing planes
    falling towers
    and ashen
    in a loop

  17. lionmother

    Collective Horror

    I watched in horror as my country
    ached when the point of the planes
    pierced the soul of every American
    Tearing our freedom into pieces
    the moment steel touched steel
    and destroying the symbols of
    our power in minutes

    On TV the falling bodies resembled
    cinders until you saw their forms
    flying downward to escape the flames
    No one who saw the soot and dust covered
    faces of the aimless bystanders wandering
    the site and their occasional turn of the head
    to watch objects sail toward the rubble already
    collecting beneath them erased those images.

    The towers crumbled and we
    as a nation went into deep shock
    where only the blood of our enemy
    might soothe our fevered souls
    And patriotism became a cherished
    word so dear we once again hung
    flags to show our love

    Hundreds risked their health digging
    frantically hoping to hear the sounds
    of a living, breathing human – instead
    they faced the constant dust and the
    lethal concoction which destroyed
    the strong bodies of the brave
    first responders

    Those images lay in our brains
    Like old fashioned negatives
    Indelibly pressed like a souvenir
    of a nightmare – one we have
    pushed so far to the back of our
    minds hoping the memories would
    disappear, fade into the dust of ten
    years. But alas, memories such as
    these have burned themselves
    into our minds and will never disappear.

    Now there is a force unleashed in
    America that holds those memories
    as a new gospel of fear and terror
    A force who will use the event to
    continue this oppression
    for the sake of our safety
    And we are a nation suffering from
    PTSD collectively shuddering every
    time we hear the hint of a breach of

      1. lionmother

        Thank you, Pearl. The images in your poem and in the others are so strong and remind me of that hateful day. I am continuing to read. Love your little poem with the black eyed Susans.

  18. PKP

    We went to bear witness
    one or two days later
    maybe three
    counting was odd
    in those melted clock days

    Blocks away the strobe
    lights lit the streets
    and in my mouth and
    nose I breathed in
    the acrid ash of crematorium dust


  19. PKP

    Thanks again for the forum Robert… will be back to read in the morning… I had just finished posting this long old poem from that hellish day …. and was considering asking members of a FB group if they would like to post 9-11 poems when I found this wonderful forum. Will be back in the morning to read and perhaps to write…

  20. PKP

    Thanks to Bruce for the suggestion and to Robert for actualizing… I wrote the following on my FB status today:

    On this day ten years ago – the song “America” continued to play in my mind as a talisman, a mantra, a reminder… and so I wrote and never revised…. Ten years have passed and still the enormity of what occurred on that now proverbial bright sunny September morning is still surreal… and yet, we continue…hopefully with a renewed sense of purpose to never dilute the values upon which this country was founded…

    America, america *
    (this poem was written on 9-11-01 and originally published in the 9-11 Memorial Edition of the Adelphi Society for Psychoanalysis & Psychotherapy Newsletter of which I was editor for several years ).

    Oh beautiful for spacious skies
    cut deep by silver steel
    For purple mountain majesties
    above the

    American, america
    heart cut
    and bled and teared
    Lift now
    her face
    from evil
    from al
    that now
    is feared

    Told us they
    did of
    of hand held
    fast and
    those purple mountains
    above a rising

    America, america
    I gave my heart
    to thee through bombs
    that fell
    and napalms
    hell I held
    you close to me

    America, america
    I marched and sung
    and cried
    for liberty, equality
    for others lost and died

    We learned of
    pots of melted
    a land of one
    for all
    A special land
    where freedom
    rang a universal

    A place where
    free we all
    could be
    no crematorium
    sweet stink
    the evil
    things that
    happened then
    too distant far
    to think

    And through it all
    our self-control
    belief in moral
    a land that’s
    free for all
    to be whatever is
    felt right

    We didn’t always
    get along
    We didn’t all agree
    But that we learned
    was just the point
    of sweetest liberty

    And so our
    buildings went
    our skies
    and free
    our streets marched
    through by many feet
    for causes differently

    America, america
    I gave my heart
    to thee
    to noble
    cause and
    idealized flaws
    in name of

    It served us well
    until this
    hell unleashed
    its heinous face
    but never more
    than here a door
    to courage
    rich embrace

    It takes no
    strength to fight
    for right when
    fear is far away
    when babies cry
    in distant lands
    and others
    starve and die

    Our alabaster
    cities now
    agleam with
    tears and dust
    From this came
    we to liberty
    As then and now we must

    American, america
    I gave my heart to thee
    gave my belief
    a child of grief
    to dream
    of liberty

    All children
    of a certain age
    with crisp
    that we stood
    so much
    taller then
    and that we did believe

    American, america
    it’s simple
    to believe
    when safe and
    warm and tall
    and strong
    invincible we seemed

    American, america
    for oh so very long
    we’ve mouthed
    the words
    without a test
    of right against what’s wrong

    America, america
    you raised me in your
    So strong
    and warm
    and held so high
    america is no lie…

    *I think I was trying to differentiate between the country America and the inculcated values of an internalized america…

  21. Walt Wojtanik


    There were five sides to every story,
    in a place where glory was the prize earned
    through valiant effort and selfless sacrifice.
    It would have been nice to face your attackers,
    but cowardly slackers destined to fail their main mission
    sat in a position to cause as much damage as they could.
    Would they have succeeded, we would have pleaded
    for mercy. But we don’t play that way. The heroes
    in New York and Pennsylvania had back-up
    in the Nation’s capitol. On patrol and wresting control
    back from the faceless assailant. Our own mission clear.
    Do not lead out of fear. Defend out of honor and respect
    of those who had given so much for the cause of many.
    In any instance, there remains five sides to every story.
    In honor and glory, they died for a cause,
    earning our undying devotion and endless applause.

  22. Walt Wojtanik


    He gives them repose; a long journey ended
    and all who had risen to the occasion knew
    their rest was well earned. Not how they would
    have wanted, but God never asked them
    what they wanted. He gave them what He knew
    they could handle. And so, brave and stoic,
    extremely heroic they were at peace with
    the decision that was made. Honor in their way;
    on their terms. A rest well earned
    and on that day they learned their limitations.
    Strong enough to defend their nation.
    In control on the command, “Let’s Roll”.
    In verdant pastures, the Shepherd
    snatched them up to rest peacefully.
    They needed and wanted nothing more.

  23. Sara McNulty

    There were many poems on this subject; these are some of them.

    New York City 2001

    From the bus I saw a plane circling
    Tower Two where I was headed
    to begin an ordinary September day;
    in fact I was late. Walter, my Basset
    hound, refused to come when called,
    forcing me to take this later bus

    on which we all sat, at the mouth
    of the Battery tunnel, waiting for traffic
    to move along, but something was wrong.
    Orange flames, black billowing smoke erupted
    before us. Why did the plane crash
    into the building? Must be an accident,

    but the sky was so blue, the view so clear,
    as we sat, and sat, watching my building
    crumble like a set of building blocks. Static
    on the radio, the driver listening to the news
    of an attack, a bombing, and our cell phones
    were dead, so we turned in our seats

    instead, in time to witness a second plane
    crash into a high floor of Tower Two, lightening
    speed, leaving fire in the wake of life,
    clouds of ash, like a black magic show.
    Relatives at home, sat, paced, not knowing
    if we were alive. Four hours passed.

    Passengers prayed until a signal came
    for the bus to turn around, to bring us home,
    shocked and silent. Only later could I cry.
    Only later did I learn that my niece on the
    thirtieth floor was safe. My dear friend remained
    on the list of missing, to be declared dead

    three weeks later. The phone rang, hysterical
    family and friends, some of whom I had not seen
    in a long time. One month later, grasping
    my husband’s arm, I attended a funeral
    of my dear friend, but there was only a picture.

    Whatever You Decided

    Whatever you had decided
    to do with your time,
    I would have supported
    you. If you needed me,
    I would have been there
    for you. If you had a joke
    to tell, an insight to share
    when I was not there,
    I would have listened
    to you. Whatever love
    we had together, I will
    remember–in fine detail,
    as that of perfectly penned
    calligraphy–although you
    You were my best friend
    before a terrorist destroyed


    in downtown
    Manhattan, buildings
    guarded, gated–too late for you.
    Bomb blast blackened glassy blue skies
    as city commenced
    routine day.
    Flames spit


    Sounds of 9/11

    drivers lean on horns
    traffic at a stop
    bus at mouth of dark
    entrance to tunnel.

    airplanes heading
    straight for towers
    tall and pale in
    radiant sunlight.

    crash, fire, coal black
    and orange jets
    flaming, flowing;
    we stare, helpless.

    shrieks of disbelief,
    sight of buildings
    crumbling like toy
    blocks, bodies falling

    from a September sky.

    Our Towers

    I could not stop your fall from grace
    as fires flamed I knew your face
    was one I never could erase.
    Trapped on a bus, I felt your ghost.

    Our buildings, side by side, a heap
    of rocks and broken bodies steeped
    and shrouded in ashen sleep.
    Trapped on that bus, I felt your ghost.

    The world went on, they searched for you
    but in my heart of hope, I knew
    you’d gone, as your bare casket proved.
    While trapped inside, I felt your ghost.

  24. De Jackson

    That Day

    My brother worked at the Pentagon
    (not that day, but it took us 8 hours to know it)

    My belly was full of baby
    (now almost 10 years old, little sister not far behind)

    My heart was in my throat
    (both aching, watching the very sky fall)

    My country fell in pieces
    (and rose to the occasion, beauty born of ash)

  25. RJ Clarken


    I was changing a diaper
    when the world changed
    right before my eyes.
    I watched
    as an unspeakable act
    made me feel
    something I later realized was hate,
    and it frightened me.
    As voiceless tears ran down my cheeks
    I was grateful
    I didn’t have to try and explain
    to my baby twins
    what happened to that other set of twins
    because, to be honest,
    I didn’t know how.

    I still don’t.


  26. Walt Wojtanik


                    Late summer in                  NY. A day like
                    any other;  New                 Yorkers   loved
                    days such as th                 ese.  The   sky
                    was clear; the air                was crisp  and
                    life went on as it                 usually did.Taxi
                    cabs jammed in                  traffic, and some
                    commuters were                 too. Pedestrians
                    on the pavement                 heading to  their
                    nine-to-5 enslave                ment. A sense of
                    urgency had gone              unnoticed but that
                    was business  as               it usually was. Men
                    and Women head               ed to work, or to
                    drop the children                off at daycare. Today
                    is September 11th              2001 and all is right
                    with the world. The              sun rises, casting
                    the Statue of Liberty            in  seductive  and
                    glorious silhouette;              a shadowed sentinel
                    set in the harbor to              greet all travelers to
                    the “Land of the Free”.         Like those folks on
                    that inbound jet and            others like it. It holds
      the hopes and dreams of all aboard, as it does for all below. The airplane’s
     shadow is cast ominously across the expanse of concrete, metal and glass;
    a close pass to the constructed mountains above. Most unusual on this usual
    day. Nothing changes on usual days. Usually, but not today late summer in NY.

  27. Nancy Posey

    I wrote this one for the “falling” prompt in April:


    years later, they appear in my dreams,
    just as I saw them then,
    on the television screen
    in real time–

    other haunt me too—the faces on flyers
    tacked up on every wall,
    every fence:
    have you seen our father?
    my husband?

    when grief becomes public,
    so many faces,
    so many lost,
    the images pile up,
    they overwhelm,

    but still I see the them falling
    and wonder
    how much fire,
    how much fear
    would make me leap,
    hoping that perhaps
    just this once,

    instead of falling,
    I might fly.

  28. pmwanken

    8:46…9:03…10:03 a.m.

    a sunny morning
    nothing out of the ordinary
    running late for work

    putting on make-up
    doing my hair
    listening to the Today Show

    the exact time is unknown
    I didn’t look at the clock
    but time was about to stand still


    those aren’t the numbers I remember
    the ones that stick in my head are
    9 & 11

    P. Wanken

    written for Poetic Asides poem-a-day challenge
    Day 9: “time of day”

  29. De Jackson

    Twin Towers

    Invisible memorials
    One for him, one for her.
    Marking the place her heart crumbled to ground zero
    on an ordinary September morning.

    She traces their fallen shadow in the sky
    Then spreads her arms
    And tries to fly.

  30. Joseph Harker


    The truth is, I don’t think about them

    I had my two degrees of New Jersey separation,
    friends who were gone when the leaves started to turn
    for funerals, memorials,
    the running of hands through grey dust. I remember
    one day of fascinated horror
    buried in ten years of hate and hardship.

    People in freefall are a pixel or two wide on TV.
    Children torn to pieces in far-off deserts have faces.
    Journalists weep. Prisoners are masked.
    We lived through images
    laced with bloody wire, all of it leading back to a heart
    that does not beat, but collapses (twice).

    When I feel like thinking about them, I walk down
    to where the painted tiles sway in the breezes from cabs
    hurtling down Seventh, clanking like
    kitchen-floor birds, each one a name. Hello, and
    how are you doing today, and
    have you seen how big my daughter’s gotten:
    the little things.
    Ghosts live in the spaces of Manhattan fences.
    They are not thugs with stars and stripes and warpaint,
    they are not martyrs of a primitive tribe. They are
    mothers, fathers, children and elders,
    lovers and sentinels, the fearful and the frantic and
    the ones at peace.

    I face north. I wonder how they are doing, and I look
    up the island that is seamless and whole, wondering
    if they know what has been done
    (whether we admit it or not)
    in their names.

    If we could tap them out in the right order, these tiles
    would still sing.
    If we look at the bow of Manhattan’s mouth, see where
    two teeth were ripped out, bloodied, we can tell
    it is remembering how to smile.

  31. seingraham

    Like Confetti, Pieces of Souls Rained Down

    I thought I would have to visit it-
    Ground Zero – so close – how could I not?
    Once nearer though, I grew disenchanted
    With the notion, decided I would not go after all

    Quite by accident, I stumbled close to the site
    Lost—again—on the Metro—surfaced, to get
    My bearings; an elderly man urged me closer
    With his cane, asked me – was I looking for it,
    “the place”?

    “No, no,” I protested, sounding weak and indecisive
    In my own ears – hadn’t I come up less than a block
    From the memorial? The old guy’s eyes glinted
    In the sun as he stared at me, then said softly

    “You wanna set a bit?” he patted the bench
    Beside him and suddenly weary, I slid down
    Resting my head on my overlarge suitcase
    Smiling gratefully at him as he smiled back

    “It was a purty day, much like this one, y’know—”
    My bench-mate spoke so softly I had to strain
    To hear him and it was unclear if he was
    Speaking to me or just mumbling to himself

    “Sky as clear as this until, like confetti, pieces
    Of souls rained down …” I felt drops hit my hand
    And in wonder, touched the wetness –
    Then looked into his tear-filled eyes, felt my own

    Sting, as he continued, “Imagine – I was passed
    Out that whole day long, didn’t wake up ‘til late
    Afternoon when everything was changed – them
    Big ol’ towers were crumbled to dust and all those

    Poor people—” We sat there in silence then,
    Me, trying to imagine how that must have been
    For him, and him, patting my hand, trying —
    I don’t know what he was trying to do but whatever

    It was, it worked: when I walked away from him
    I felt revived in a way I’d hadn’t expected
    Funny, but NYC’s always been kind to me that way …

    March 2011

  32. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    Nueve Once

    The New York City skyline is broken
    and so are our hearts, I’m afraid.
    An observation deck stub for a token.
    The New York City skyline is broken,
    our vulnerability, grief unspoken…
    in front of the world now displayed.
    The New York City skyline is broken
    and so are our hearts, I’m afraid.

    (c) jh 9/8/11

    United We Stand

  33. Connie Peters

    Shine the Light

    In the Beginning, Word was light
    As promised came one starry night
    The darkness knew not what was right
    It fought with might, it fought with might

    Nine years ago it fought us here
    Attacking us with hate and fear
    It killed so many we hold dear
    And with a jeer, and with a jeer

    And some say darkness may have won
    But tell me, can you quench the Sun?
    God’s light still shines on everyone
    To Him we come, to Him we come

    He helped before, He’ll help again
    The wars we’ve had, He helped us then
    Through famines, floods and strife within
    In Him we win, in Him we win

    Darkness dispels with little light
    As candles glow, the dark takes flight
    The love of Jesus beams so bright
    So shine the light, so shine the light

  34. taylor graham


    We sit in our breakable
    adobe walls. On the tabletop,
    a fired clay pot of flowers.

    From across the continent,
    the news numbs us: overload
    of wrong numbers:
    Flight 11, Flight 175, Flight 77.
    Uncounted humans
    fall from high-rise steel
    no longer standing;
    a choke of ash. How can numbers
    ever count for us again?

    And then Flight 93,
    a band of stranger-heroes lifts
    the horn of courage,

    sounds it so we hear
    it clear across the country.
    Even here.

  35. cstewart

    AM: 9/11

    I was getting ready for public teaching.
    An enterprise that takes concentration,
    Much effort and time.
    I saw a plane hit the tower.
    A little stunned,
    I left for work.
    Later, more crashing.
    Colleagues were thoughtful,
    Angry, sad and tired.
    A few appeared excited,
    I thought;
    After all our aggressions, someone
    Got through.

  36. Walt Wojtanik


    A state of emergency,
    a state of insanity,
    “The States” in disarray.

    To understate the obvious,
    the number says it all.
    The situation and day

    the twins would fall.
    No one to call
    in our time of need.

    We call on ourselves,
    each other to stop the bleeding
    and the pain. Placing blame

    cannot end the hurt,
    no placebo can reign in
    the pain we are in.

    Ten years after the fact,
    one thing is crystal clear.
    One needs to keep loved ones close

    and all we hold so dear.
    A state of emergency.
    Dial it in!

  37. Iain Douglas Kemp

    Written in Feb 2010

    Where were you?
    … after Wes Magee

    Maria was dicing carrots
    nutters were flying to hell
    the smell of tar
    polluted the bar
    the day the towers fell

    Cats playing with a dead mouse
    hamburgers with relish as well
    hands on heart and head
    starting to count the dead
    the day the towers fell

    Half the world was sleeping
    news was starting to swell
    rattling cages
    that had stood for ages
    the day the towers fell

    Elton cried and wrote
    a witch cast a spell
    bells ringing out
    little boys shout
    the day the towers fell

    Bodies piling higher
    panic and fear to tell
    death and smoke
    an unholy joke
    the day the towers fell

    I remember my location
    and the phone´s ringing bell
    when out of the blue
    I suddenly knew
    the day the towers fell


  38. Bruce Niedt

    How We Heal

    We pay the mortgage, we pay the rent.

    We wash our cars, we get the paper.
    We see the photographs from a year ago
    and feel the same twinge of horror, a bit fainter this time.

    We go on vacation. Some of us fly.

    We see old movies on TV
    with shots of the towers, and feel a pang of loss.
    Then we watch football, or a car commercial,
    or a sitcom.

    We shake our fists at the madman of the month.
    We shake our fists at the driver who cut us off.

    We yell at our children; we hug them tight.
    We send them off to school.
    We pray they will grow up healthy and good,
    and not be taken by evils down the street,
    or across the world.

    We pray in the kitchen. We pray in our beds.
    We pray when our plane takes off.

    We pray to God, Jehovah, and yes, even Allah,
    or whatever god or gods we think will listen.

    We pray for the living, we pray for the dead.
    We pray to keep the tightening circle of terrorists
    from our families, from our door.
    We pray for the families on whose door
    they have already knocked.

    We pray for our country, the greatest on earth,
    we still sincerely believe.

    We plant flowers. We pray for rain.

    (September 2002)

  39. Bruce Niedt


    Someone asked a firefighter,
    after the fire,
    after the buildings collapsed:

    Where are the bodies?
    He pointed to the gray dust
    covering his face and clothes.

    It is horrific to imagine
    that these towers became
    a huge crematorium

    of jet fuel, concrete
    and superheated steel,
    but no more horrific

    than the powder that leached
    all color from the flattened
    Hiroshima landscape

    or the strange gray snow
    that fell outside the gates
    of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

    (This was published and selected as a poem of the week on the website “Poets Against War”)

  40. Bruce Niedt


    Normal has been redefined.
    Now we move through everyday life
    thinking about life, every day,
    each minute a ripened fruit.

    Senses have sharpened –
    we regard the world with warier eyes
    while finely tuned to frequencies:
    ear to the sky, the jet overhead.

    We stand at tense attention
    like veldt-dwellers,
    watching on all sides
    for predators in the grass.

    Our vantage point,
    our strange and somber advantage,
    a small mountain
    still burning below,

    framed with steel skeletons,
    built from two hundred crumpled stories
    and thousands buried
    without ceremony or warning.

    It gives us a place
    from which to move on,
    and the benefit of hindsight
    from higher ground.


  41. Walt Wojtanik


    Death comes to call.
    A vacancy unwanted; unwarranted.
    Voices silenced,
    visions delved into darkness.
    Touching, cold and unfeeling,
    leaving us reeling with sorrow.
    Dreams of a tomorrow bright
    and fruitful, become a night terror.
    The bearer of sad tidings halting
    thousands of hearts in mid-beat.
    Ones are left to fend due to the end
    of passion’s cleaving. Leaving no pulse;
    disheartened. Love never dies.
    It just ceases to be; the truest disaster.

  42. Walt Wojtanik


    How strangely still
    the water is today.
    Calm and tranquil. strangely still.

    Dark clouds on the horizon,
    harbingers of things to come;
    clouds that obliterate the sun.

    The air seems cold; it chills,
    winds stirring through the clearing.
    Winds of chnage do not thrill.

    How strangely still
    the water is today.
    Peaceful thoughts; I get my fill.

    And then, the clouds converge,
    driven by gusts of fire and winds;
    a nasty dose of an ill will.

    Before the storm, it seemed quite warm.
    How strangely still
    the water was today. Such a rapid decay!

    A 9/11 poem based on “Sea Calm” by Langston Hughes

  43. LadyJai

    Where Were You When The Towers Fell?

    Where were you when the towers fell?
    Tucked all safe and snug in your bed
    Waking to smell pancakes and coffee
    Getting dressed, rushing out the door
    No need to be late
    Just another day of routine folly

    Where were you when the towers fell?
    Making your lunches
    packing your things
    Checking your homework,
    meeting your friends
    Filling the buses
    Cramming the cars.

    Where were you when the towers fell?
    Just came in through the office door
    Set your briefcase, keys and cell phone down
    Flipping through papers
    Business meetings
    Conference calls
    Emails and emails and more.

    Where were you when the towers fell?
    Radio, television tuned in to news.
    Calling loved ones to hear their voice
    Phone lines busy, anxiety runs high
    Voices in huddles speak of nothing less
    Daily habits are a distant dream
    United in terror and pride.

    Where were you when the towers fell?
    Our home no longer safe
    Family clenched tight
    Clinging to the common bond
    Strangers become family
    Grasping at hope
    Desperate for peace.

    Where were you when the towers fell?
    Back to your methodical drone.
    No care in the world, not one reminder
    On this ten year anniversary
    Please don’t make this
    Just another day of routine folly.

  44. Walt Wojtanik


    Lest we forget…
    Many lives lost, affected and changed,
    our perspectives forever askew, rearranged.
    Our concern for humanity given new light,
    ten years in the making, and it’s still not right.
    Sacrifices made by the selfless and compassionate;
    the brave and we’re still helpless.
    Never to be far from our hearts and heads.
    Buried within our souls instead,
    explosive fire, never silenced,
    thousand cries of anguish, never silenced.
    One massive blaze unquenched, never silenced,
    it still remains to burn in our common psyche all the same.
    The eternal flame. Lest we forget.

  45. Walt Wojtanik


    The phone rings.
    An unanswered summoning
    leaving one to wonder.
    He said goodbye today.
    He was used to saying “See you later”.
    And the longer it had gone without answer
    made her worry. The children came to mind.
    Do they know? Did they hear?
    Why doesn’t it add up?
    Throught the window, smoke and dust,
    a veil shrouded in obscurity.
    You watched in terror. Replayed
    over and over with the same result;
    an insane happenstance. No chance
    to say “I love you”. Only goodbye.
    Your gut tells you what your heart refuses
    to intimate. It’s too late. He’s not coming home.

  46. Walt Wojtanik


    Tall and proud they stood,
    brothers from the same design.
    One taller than the other;
    he wore his hat to distinguish them.
    Side-by-side, they kept watch
    over the multitudes with attitudes,
    near the harbor, they held no ill will
    standing still while liberty had shown the way.
    Until that day, their futures bright together,
    their fates tied to their function.
    But their compunction was well founded
    when they were grounded. Encouraging to the last,
    until the fast descent caused by one’s great fall.
    The other followed shortly, two swept clear.
    Ten years older if they were still here.
    Tall and proud they stood,
    brothers from the same design,
    holding lives and dreams for all
    concerned in the balance.
    Under a valance of dust and rubble
    there remains no trouble remembering the twins