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By Robert Bové
We marked four winds by an acrid smoke,
Smoke first black, then white,
Driven across East River and New York Harbor,
Carried east across Brooklyn Heights, then south over Staten Island,
Out over the Narrows, down Jersey Shore, then up Long Island and out to sea,
Carried north over Central Park, over Harlem, Washington Heights,
Over and into the Bronx, over and into Connecticut beyond,
Carried west over Hudson, raking up and down Jersey Palisades,
Fort Lee to Bayonne.
We saw it from a hill in Green-Wood, by Tiffanys tomb,
Acorns, catkins, catalpa fruit littering the manicured grass,
Along with charred memos, letters, and newsprint
All covered, all covered with thankless ash
Upon the ashes of that work
Is our work
Begun when theres ended
In smoke and ash,
When our towers, one after the other,
Shuddered and collapsed,
(Also at Chiff and Fipple, superimposed on Tom Dowling pic.)
Know that this work is great love,
Work done in the face of death
In defiance, in respect,
True work, true love, sacrifice
for love, living for love.
published at A Small Victory.)
Whose hand grasped
Axe to free trapped
Or which hand
Steered fatal jet
Or whose feet bore
The weight of
Boots, belt, air tank
Into the lighted
Will the DNA tell us
Though he danced
Speak once more,
May I have
The next dance?
Restless and Unsleeping
I thought it raged somewhere else
Twister hop scotching Kansas,
Flood drowning Minnesota
Cloudless skies, down calm East Coast,
As arsonist, as human
We got our answer to Where
When he said, The fire is here.
The Blind Mans Guide
There is no path; there is no road,
That we have made, that leads away
From doors in flame, from glass-shard floors
Guide dog no use but to stay close.
First to blind feet, then to scorched hands,
Each step borne by that presumption
Descending an obscure staircase
Long minute after long minute
Until a familiar embrace,
Merely imagined up to now,
Saying you are home
Brings you home.
To retrieve the fallen,
To remove the wreckage,
Leaving this field
Better than we found it.
(The following five poems were first published at The Texas Mercury.)
Out the office, hale and clean pressed
Or broken limbed, ash covered
Into waiting boat, one of hundreds
Tugs, tankers, water taxies, ferries
Evacuating under smoke,
Going in by radar
At high speed, Staten Island Ferry up to 800 rpm,
6,000 passengers one wayout
Urgent, determined, clear
That nobody should be sitting down
Wed rather be.
Close down over harborDidnt know
Whose they wereand on the Hudson, damn
If it wasnt Half Moon Just sitting there in the haze
Almost 400 years to the day
Hudson first penetrated New York Harbor
A replica with nothing to do
On busiest day in harbor since Melville.
Slowly moving from Manhattan,
Leaving a lane between for her ferry,
Heading in the opposite direction to terminal,
Each barge pushed by a tug,
Each tug with a wheelhouse,
In each wheelhouse the same silent skipper chomping
On cigar, eyes focused straight ahead, beyond
A memory of something
Shed seen in the papers.
One told a magazine writer,
At first, the barges were filled with rebar,
Which always had some cement attached.
There were crows and seagulls everywhere.
I didnt know crows at cement.
He thought of going over to see how they were doing,
The workers hed ferried in from Jersey
Ants on a hill, digging digging digging.
Sucked out to sea.
Steamfitter says he used to line up piling he was driving
With the Twin Towers.
Harder now, that hard job,
(The following poem was first published at Poets for the War.)
To suffer loss is not to be
At a loss. It is to be
In loss. In it, there is no
Distance any longer
Between quick kiss
And long goodbye.
Such a lie, such a lie
To deny this anguish,
Prescribing more distance,
Even deeper detachment
To those severed
As we saw that day,
In fear, in faith,
Inch by inch
Gates of hell
With their bodies.
Bové is an adjunct instructor in English at Pace University in Manhattan.
He is a widely published writer and editor and this is his first contribution
to Enter Stage Right. His web site can be found at http://home.earthlink.net/~rcbove/index.htm.
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