Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 Memorial Poem (from northSight)

Below I have reprinted my poem, "Voices From the Aftermath: New York City Requiem" which published in my second collection, northSight (2006). Composer Christopher Scinto created music based on this poem for the fifth anniversary of 9/11 memorial event held in Phoenix. The music was sung, in two performances, by the Phoenix Chorale (formerly Bach Choir) to audiences of more than 300 persons each. It was a moving time for all of us.

I reprint the poem here as a memorial to that terrible day but also as a tribute to the courage, faith and resilence which lies at the heart of our country.

Voices From the Aftermath: New York City Requiem


Young Boy Running in the Street

The day the towers fell, the sun dropped from the sky.
They say my parents died--but I just don't believe them.
I step on broken glass--the dirt gets in my eyes.
On each and every wall I'll hang copies of this picutre:

a dark-haired woman who smiles,
a laughing husband who holds
the sleeping child between them.

Tell every who knows, to call--
my hand is on the phone--I know they will come home--
just ring and we'll go find them.

I know they have been saved...please

I am my father's so; my mother was the one
who said she'd never leave me.


Women Standing at Ground Zero

I keep your voice on the machine, it tells me: good-bye, good-bye.
Your face on the news. Your name engraved inside my ring. Now
when I stare into your grave--this hole
in the ground, circles of twisted metal--I wonder
how is this world still possible?

That day, you woke from a deep sleep,
drank the morning coffee, kissed me
--twice--on the mouth, went to work
and died.

Fires above your head. Fires behind your back.
As you jumped into the hand of God
did my love go with you?


Widow Waiting Outside the Station House

The wall of blue weeps for you. Thirty years on the job. Thirty years
before my fears
come true. Ashes in my mouth. You, shouting int he blackened air"
get out of here--

the the building feel straight to the ground. They never found you.
Only this piece of gold. Now for days I've been living in a haze--
trying to recall your face....Your men line the street. I touch your badge
and pray for peace, the kind I hear you say
comes in the earliest part of the morning.


Father Among the Rescue Workers

Where is my daughter? Where have you brought her?
No one will tell me
where her body lies.
Here is a strand of her hair;
her sweater thrown over a chair.
Tell me--why won't you teel me--when and where and how she died?

You say I should go home, but suppose someone knows

that she found her way through the smoke,
that she ran down the stairs, into the street....

No--you say--no,
there isn't any hope....

just this dust, her body dancing
under the rescue lights, rising 

on a swirl of New York City air.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Why of Wislawa Szymborska

If you have not ever read an entire collection of poems by Wislawa Szymborska, I urge you to do so right now.

Szymboraska,  a polish born poet, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. Her voice is as clear as it is luminous. Her images, electric. 

In her 1996 Nobel lecture, she states:

"Poets, if they are genuine, must also keep repeating, 'I don't know.'...The world--whatever we might think when we're terrified by its vasteness and our own impotence or when we're embittered by its indifference to individual suffering, of people, animals, and perhaps even plants (for why are we so sure that plants feel no pain?); whatever we might think of its expanses pierced by the rays of stars surrounded by plants we've just begun to discover, planets already dead, still dead,we just don't know; whatever we might think of this measureless theater to which we've got reserved tickets, but tickets whose life span is laughably short, bounded as it is by two arbitrary dates; whatever else we might think of this world--it is astonishing."

This is the why of Wislawa Szmboraska.