Well, after 17 years, my 9/11 poem “Still Life With City” has found a home at Verse-Virtual.
Our terrible future has just arrived.
The telephone now rings ominously
as we falter, scanning briefly a sky
of asphalt gray, frightened what we seek.
As I wrote in the note to the poem, “it was the first poem I ever wrote that felt like a real poem, where I wasn’t merely aping the poets I read but was building on their work and adding something of my own.” I’ve been told by a friend from that time that she has kept a piece of office stationery that planed down in her neighborhood in Brooklyn, sprinkled through with tiny shards of glass, since that day. She says it still smells like the air on 9/11, the air of death. The poem continues:
The air outside seems somehow to have died
as claustrophobic clouds conceal the week.
Those lines were written in the days after the event, surrounded by the poisonous clouds above Manhattan. In contrast to “On Maujer St.“, which was written 16 years after, this was contemporaneous with the event.
The larger point is this: it was this poem that convinced me I, too, could write poetry – that I was cut out not only to imitate but also to create (I’ll leave judgement of its poetic merits to others more competent.) It was a breaking through, so to speak. My hope is that the reader is transported for a brief minute into the shoes of those who walked the torn and broken city on that awful day, forgetful of the past, fearful in the present, uncertain what future awaited them.