Monday, September 8, 2008

In September, Personal Disaster

I know them.
I know each one like a cell in my body.
Which bone is it that betrayed them?

One died giving birth to orders
sound of the bull-horn
“Go back to your deaths”
another died, hesitating on the steps

If I wait all night by the bridge
then will you come into my arms?

One who had been given mother’s good bread
so she would have a long life;

One, lying in wait for justification
still desperate to prove

Died hoarding, waiting
for the bad times to return
that never came

The end of pain, finished with experience
“I had been waiting for this to end so I could live”


Day by day, the poem changes
after-images--falling bodies
my son’s voice crying “owie” over a small hurt

My dreams are easy on me
Kitchens where the cooks have created
World trade center buildings in yellow pudding
yellow pudding airplanes diving for the ground
Hurry on down. Step up to see them.

The sun comes up, the weather continues
I drop the coffee pot in the kitchen
I am not as flexible in my exercises
Mourning and building muscle?
Every one of us defeated in our bodies?
(Twin, towering legs of a man who has been toppled?)
(Smoking chimneys of the liner “economy” going down?)
Practically forgotten
in the heat and smoke
of desperate moments
the columns of rising
souls from the rubble
a smoke, a steam,
a crackling
rustling of paper
pen on parchment—

a page has been turned

Note: Spend as much time as possible naked
proof to yourself: you still have a body

Note: Flowers (and people) inhabit their bodies
only for a short time
we may speak to them then


After a great cruelty, echoes
An immediate response is mounted
by the empty air
which turns the other cheek

by the set of our teeth
the veins in our temples
we will reply

“Blast the hell out of somebody”
Eugene says, terrorist, is that you?


Memorial services
invoking our battle-god
we are united in irrationality
Rumsfeld with a little flag
(size of a matchbook
that could ignite…)


There’s no such thing as vindication
vindication has no meaning

Revenge is sweet? who said that?
revenge is monstrous, teeth on edge
eyes staring, fixed on damage
head nodding, counting out explosions

Can we ski down the hill on a broken leg?
does the foot attack the knee?
Pretty soon the gangrene sets in
and fever attacks the whole body

We’d be better off to bombard the people with dreams
wish-fulfillment from the sky
great avalanches of goat cheese, or whatever
the hell they’ve been dreaming of…


finally every one of us was forced to watch
the children eating explosions
with their breakfast cereals
Kellogg pop-tarts and explosions

alive and not alive
the airplane outside the windows
and then the buildings
accept the planes

the sadness of skyscrapers
before the collapse
and the sadness after
We run it again


from a falling body, you can turn your head—no suspense
I walk through rivulets
of rain falling from the eves
the cat shakes herself on the stairs

the children: “we saw people jumping from tall buildings”
All of us a part of something greater
leaping in air, ahead of the flames?

watch the skyscrapers’ falling
ripple across the bodies of the old in the rest home
as if we were indeed one organism

Fred says: Atlas, holding up the earth
also turns and runs around the sun

the 13th
We salute the flag as if it was someone
It hurts to see at half-staff, blowing

The old man, hunched over the steering wheel
in his cap with an extra-long bill
slows his pickup, turns his head sideways
to spit out the window

In the whole country
there cannot be any cheering


more
something cried in the night and was eaten
even the dogs refused to bark

wet footprints from the shower through the bedroom
plateful of coins, rattling down the stairs

rifle shots all day, reports of acorns
a robin’s attempt at song, broken off by protestations


my mouth committed sabotage against my body—
I ate till I was full, then ate again

Trying to remember what was lost and how we lost it
Rearranging inner worlds to include calamity


unburthening

only the unreasonable is allowed to be reasonable at this time


in our mind’s nightly reorganization, reality decomposes
we could wake up to any landscape and believe it
but a deed remains done
and someone who is gone remains gone


Punnin’
From a falling body
you can turn your head in boredom—
No suspense
Jabberings—a multiplicity of voices
“the toilets of America will be overflowing with excrement”
“though in our mourning, we are eating well, ha ha”
Emotion requiring an emotional response?
“everyone pulling together in one direction--
surely this will be the saving of our nation”
“cannot assimilate the WTC collapse
until we turn it into entertainment”

from the drawer front I try to wipe
a smudge of sun


helping the mite
lost in the vastness of the bathroom
a life so tiny
surely it is also honored

ok to flush it down the sink
as long as you don’t see it

anthrax, even smaller

I don’t even want to know
how they live in Afghanistan


In the light of the breaking and the burning
next to the mounds and mountains of gray ashes
the faces of our neighbors
take on a new significance and radiance


tv today
Escaped from the collapse
she has just discovered we are mortal--
inconsolable, hysterical,
she wants someone to take that away

(a reminder--on the corner—
the gravel truck, brakeless on the hill
air horn blaring, taking out two cars
bucking buses, the snapped-off telephone pole
its sizzle and its lightning
death and silence afterward,
running home wounded in the same way)

Zealots
In the airplane, looking
down through a hole in the clouds
I thought of The Tailor in Heaven
throwing God’s footstool
down at the miscreants
I think of that again


“Come Up Here See This”
the accents that compel
sometimes the sky opens
and there before you--
your heart’s desire or a disaster

5 comments:

farmlady said...

Wow! I don't even know what to say.

Warrior Librarian said...

Wow is right. What an all encompassing poem...and the range of emotions and feelings it contains is amazing. I'm going to share it with our local teen literary group at our meeting tomorrow night; the 7th anniversary of 9/11.

castlewon said...

Well, that makes me glad I posted.

Warrior Librarian said...

The Shadow-Scribes Literary Society (who range in age from 15-22 or thereabouts) loved your poem. They were all blown away.

castlewon said...

Thank you. Thanks for letting me know. (Cool name--warrior librarian!)