Friday, September 9, 2016

9/11 Poem

Below is my poem "That Tuesday Night," which I wrote not long after 9/11. It's in my chapbook Bleak Splendor (Muddy River Books, 2016) and first appeared in the anthology An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind: Poets on 9/11 (2002).

That Tuesday Night

That Tuesday night, after the towers

burned & fell down-

town, after watching them crumble—

unlike the one Paul Newman

saved in Towering Inferno

from the plaza in front of Rosenthal

Library, after walking home

from the subway in the yellow

summer twilight, gagging

on the acrid air and looking

at the thick sooty column rising

downtown where the towers

had loomed Gargantuan on the skyline

for over three decades,

I went to wash my face,

as though cold water and soap

would wake me from this dream

of violence and violation,

and I saw that man in the mirror,

red-rimmed eyes, yes, but

the same sagging wrinkled

skin, the same thinning,

graying hair above the same lined

forehead, and I knew that he

was lucky to have lived

to sixty-five—too young for WW II

and Korea, too old for Viet Nam

lucky to have lived his soft

American life without much fear

from abroad, except spotting airplanes

as a kid and catching a breath or two

as JFK stood down the Russians in ’62,

and in the glare of the bathroom light,

the sirens screaming just up the street

at St. Vincent’s, I knew nothing

could ever make me

safe again.

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