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Reader poems about the attack on America

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

The Sound of No Planes Flying

The sound of no planes flying is
deafening our ears.

We look up to see the silver wings and watch for
birds or anything that soars and hums or roars.

Instead the crumpled iron and steel lies
tangled and twisted.

Amidst the debris of human life and those who
used to hear the sound, look up, expectantly

And wait now for the silver wings and the beautiful
birds ... and only hear the sound of no planes flying.

-- K. Terry Carskaddan

Terrible Gestures

It has happened again.
As the planes slammed
into the silver towers
and the smoke wept out
like solder, bannered
in the wind, as the steel
got weak in the knees,
a man and a woman --
strangers, friends, perhaps
lovers, does it matter --
came together in the torn
burning, in the trembling
and clamor of glass.
They held hands, each
small comfort to the other,
and stepped into the air.
They held hands
as they fell, a gesture
that leaves me no peace.
It has happened again,
this terrible blessing of hope.

-- Jeffrey Thomson


Behind the cross
the wall is blue,
like a brilliant morning sky.
I want
to hide my spirit there,
to find, to know,
a place that's pure,
of safety, and perfect peace.
The faces here
are unfamiliar,
in the clasping of hands
and eyes meeting eyes,
we are bound together.
Row after row,
on bended knees,
we sing,
"And lead us into light."
In the refrain
the vision comes:
arms stretched out
from beyond the clouds,
wide and strong enough
to bind and carry and welcome all.
Brothers and sisters,
your loved ones did not fall --
they rose.

-- Melanie Taormina

Payment Due: 9/11/01

One piece of paper
drifting down land miles away
we sign the blank check

-- Charles Wilf


The day, so stunningly beautiful;
Sunlight pours golden silence
Over our emptiness
As nature mocks us, again.

Good words are invoked,
Hollow yet cherished as our
Illusions: for how else shall we
Bear the enormity of Gone.

Good deeds are performed
Virtuous ballast against
The tonnage of evil
That decimates us.

Humans fragile as flesh
Weep and weep but do not dissolve.
Bend and bend but do not break.
Together, we grasp at what remains.

-- Judith R. Robinson


Friday afternoon traffic, the news drones,
my mind wanders.
What does 5,000 look like
half a stadium at a sold-out game? What would it be like,
knowing you were going to die?
How would you say goodbye?
If it were the USX Building,
would I run or stay?

My sons and
a generation of children
Now have a shadow on their lives.

The traffic inches
unaccustomed to the panty hose
sliding down,
my feet hurt.
Did I say the right things
to the fourth graders
who demanded to know
why their teachers were crying?
Do the tears that don't fall
dry up,
or become an aquifer
somewhere in my soul?

Homeless man,
in stocking cap, winter coat,
carefully dries a plastic bottle.
Images burned into retinas
leaping couples
smoldering buildings
Tuesday, pre and post.

-- Barbara Vaughn

Bring Back the Soaps

The beautiful blonde plunged
From the top of the burning skyscraper.
It was a movie.
Today she is one of the old and the restless
On the Young and the Restless.

People are stabbed, burned, poisoned, shot
But don't die.
They recover quickly
Unless their contract is up.
Catch them on another channel.

On every station
Jumpers from New York's burning skyscrapers
As watchers scream
We will not see them again,
But for brief seconds
They knew what it was
To fly.

-- Carolyn Wilson

Our hearts lie shattered in pieces,
tears fall from dust-covered eyes.
We all hold our loved ones closer,
as others are saying good-byes.

Hopes and prayers fill our cities,
flowers line every block.
A strong and powerful reminder,
that not one will be forgot.

For you may have brought down our buildings,
Our family and friends may be gone,
But for them we now stand stronger,
in us they will now live on.

-- Kristin L. Julian


When pain softens into sensitivity
And loneliness eases into solitude;
When longing deepen into memory
And despair evolves into depth;
When emptiness matures into potential
And fear becomes anticipation;
When fragments grow into dimensions
And crisis settles into experience.
Then ... perhaps then.

-- Nancy Kennedy

The Phoenix

The day our buildings dropped,
Brought down with plastic knives,
The daring of the deadly deed,
The unsuspecting lives ...

The heroes over Somerset
Who stopped another strike;
The firemen and the medics
Who toiled day and night.

The air that fills that grievous gap,
The flags that fly half-mast;
As from the rubble heaven swells
With angels rising fast.

The terror of the tragic blow,
the after-tremor shock,
Have galvanized our pride and will
And made it strong as rock.

Ascending from the dust and flames
a super-spirit swirls:
The Phoenix flies with eagle's eyes,
That see around the world.

Three hundred million hearts at once
Will beat with pain and love;
American the beautiful
Will reign with hawks and doves.

Jay Suszynski

With hand over mouth a gasp
Choosing his final movement
Helpless heroes with angel's wings
Our eyes to our children
Evil in the name of God

Curious eyes to a sky where only stars remain
Sleepless saviors ashen in anger
Walls of martyrs gone missing
Men in the name of God
A flag in the name of man.

-- Lori Rybka

September 11, 2001

Silent twins, were they;
born both in hope
and dreams of better days;
towering queens,
reigning side by side,
in a kingdom made of steel.

By night, they stood,
their starry sides,
beneath a gem-filled sky,
by day, to pierce the clouds,
and stretch the reach,
of all but boldest bird.

Through veins of wire,
their life-blood flowed;
and beneath their massive feet,
with care was laid
a hard and secret heart,
in yellow bars of gold.

Conceived in dreams,
they died in screams
of flame and curling smoke;
and rising from the pyre,
a black and manmade cloud,
did dim with fear,
a cloudless autumn day.

Beneath the scattered rubble,
man's golden treasure still,
in silent vigil kept,
while in between
was laid anew
a treasure far more dear.

Unlike old, metallic gold,
these hearts of humankind,
in anguish came to rest;
muffled cries unheard by ears,
but not by hearts, of fellow souls, and God.

Tears of men,
but sorrow bring,
the tears of God sow hope,
that from the ash and earth,
may someday bloom the fruit
of everlasting peace.

-- Ned Ramm

Somewhere Over Pittsburgh

Something happened Tuesday morning,
Somewhere over Pittsburgh.

We may never really know
Just exactly what transpired,
But this much is surely so:
A nation was inspired.

It was just another morning,
When from Newark they departed.
Then suddenly, without warning,
It seemed Armageddon started.

They were businessmen and mothers,
not soldiers in the sky.
Fathers, sons and brothers,
Just like you and I.

"Should I watch the movie, or just rest?"
Seemed to by their biggest worry.
No one knew there'd be a test,
Or that this would be their moment of glory.

Something happened Tuesday morning,
Somewhere over Pittsburgh.

Someone shouted "They've got knives!"
The movie no longer mattered.
Their dreams, their plans, their lives,
In an instant could be shattered.

Those who could, picked up the phone,
To say I love you, perhaps farewell.
But soon they learned they weren't alone;
The whole nation had entered Hell.

Was it really true?
They've destroyed New York's Twin Towers?
And then right away they knew,
They had minutes, seconds -- not hours.

"We need to do something now,
We need to act as one."
"Let's take a vote, let's figure out how,
But we know what must be done."

Something happened Tuesday morning,
Somewhere over Pittsburgh.

Where did they get the courage just then?
Was it from family, from church, from school, from friends?
Whatever the reason, they acted like men,
And bravely stood up, as Americans.

There must have been a battle,
But neither side would yield.
The plane began to rattle,
Then slammed into a field.

They didn't plan on being heroes,
But what heroes ever do?
Now the rest of the world knows,
What Americans, united, can do.

So if your hero is some celebrity,
Or the guy who can hit one out,
Look to the skies above the Steel City,
And remember what heroes are all about.

Something happened Tuesday morning,
Somewhere over Pittsburgh.

For here's the rest of the story,
And the reason these folks we espouse:
Somewhere over Pittsburgh, Tuesday morning,
These brave Americans saved the White House.

-- Ralph Dahma

Ground zero

Chaos everywhere
dust in the air
voices of despair,
Where are you?

Innocence lost,
at such great cost,
Fear turns to rage.
Please turn this page.
Grief and true sorrow
have become our tomorrow.
I love you ...

Images unchecked
Cross my mind.
How could reality
be so unkind?
Pain clouds my eyes
smoke darkens the skies.

The hands of our savior
will cradle us all.
From the strongest of strong
to the smallest of small.

Don't cry little one,
we will still go home.
Our souls are still steady,
our faith is still strong.

Death will not part us,
at least not for long.
The spirit of righteousness
is America's song.

-- Patricia Gates

I am the "American Eagle" and
I shed a tear with you today.
My wing has been wounded,
and my flight of freedom taken away!

Give me time to repair my wing,
dry my tears and heal some more.
But make no mistake
I, the American Eagle,
will again fly high and soar!

-- Catherine A. Cameron

No End

Unnecessary deaths and who's to blame?
A continuous battle between good and bad.
Innocent lives taken and evil overcomes us.
Vowing to make them hurt the way we hurt.
To make them see what we see.
To make them feel what we feel.
For them to become a victim.
As we dream of world peace,
we fail to realize the game of retaliation has no end.

-- Dawn McPherson

Two Twin Towers

Cathedrals looming against a bright September sky
Within the shadow of Lady Liberty's ever-watchful eye.
Symbols of our nation's strength and prosperity
The hub of commerce and financial security.

There one minute, gone the next,
A pile of rubble is all that is left.
Families of loved ones pray and wait
As countless souls become victims of hate.

Two Twin Towers
Symbols of a new-found sense of vulnerability of fear
Too much, too fast, too devastating to bear.
Gone in a moment is the peace of our land
We pray for protection from God's loving hand.

A call for unity, a call for arms
A call to protect our nation from future harm.
Brothers and sister we have all become
United by terrorists, divided by none.

-- Mary Ann Hobson

September 11, 2001

Psalm 11, v.2-3:
for lo, the wicked bend the bow,
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart
if the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?

A 747 slides into o a great glass tower, then another plane slices tower number two.
A fireball blooms in the sky.
Thousands of ordinary people working in cubicles.
Thousands of ordinary people who never threw rocks or bottle bombs or grenades --
Blown out of windows, jumped from the fires in a terrible aerial ballet, crushed
to nothing beneath tons of girder and stone.
Who can watch these towers fall without doubting our foundations?
Ground zero: Rodin's Gates of Hell, twisted steel, concrete tossed chockablock,
cascades of debris, thousands of lives erased in a minute.
Hiroshima. Beirut. Nagasaki.
Beyond the worst disaster movie Hollywood could conjure.
The mayor says, Whatever the numbers, this will be more than we can bear.

A group of young firefighters, ghostly in their coats of ash and dust,
make their way exhausted down the ruined streets. One shoe, with a silver buckle.
A snowstorm of resumes, faxes, timecards, worksheets. The river slides by,
pulling its load.

The backdrop of smoke and crushed cement rises higher
than the vanished buildings, the forever-altered skyline.
A small woman stands on a rocky island out in the harbor,
her arm raised, a lamp held high.
And the darkness is not complete.

-- Barbara Crooker

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