Sep '02 [Home]
By Degree 365:  Year One of 9/11

Feature Anthology:Points of the Circle

Point of Disrepair

Dreaming of the Next September ~ Stefanie Lipsey | Interruptions Mervyn Taylor | Real Truth #1 ~ RD Armstrong | lady liberty watches ~ Sarah Herrington | aubergine ~ Denver Butson | Ground Zero:  7 Come 11! ~ Robert Dunn | Nursery Rhyme ~ Richard Pearse

Point-Blank | Point of Honor | Distance | Order | Point Resumed

"New York, the 11th (July 26, 1788)"
(ink on paper) © 2002 Big City Lit

. . .  Last night
I awoke to that part of me who watches and waits whispering
your life isn't safe if you go on this way

—Laura Sherwood Rudish
("A Restrained Thought Does Not as a Rule Return to the Mind")

. .
Dreaming of the Next September
Stefanie Lipsey

We will give you the remedy, but you will die.
That's how it goes in my recurring dream,
a cloud mushrooms over a desert in the sea,
we run as if from a school of sharks or a tsunami.

Some children get scooped up, some are still in the wake.
I can't find my own. I run to a clinic in Venice Beach
where the doctors wear lead vests and won't help
you find your children. The storefront signs says,
"The Doctor is IN," and she is,
and she looks like Lucy from Peanuts.

I take the iodine pills, prolonging my life for only days,
get on a bus, a bus that is suddenly six hours away
in San Francisco. I am the only passenger on an old bus,
the windows are open and it moves in waves on the streets
like the waves of the tsunami and the aftershocks
and the mushroom cloud and the white, fluffy rain.

When the bus explodes, as we expect it to explode
I float above, running in mid-air
back to the beach,
back to the sand in New York, back
to all my lost children.

~ . ~

Mervyn Taylor

Miss Ruth, the lady from Arouca
Came to my door and whispered,
The World Trade Center's on fire.
I went on with the lesson
Until the noise became too much.
Then I followed the kids down the hall
To the window that showed everything,
Like a widescreen movie.

And there they were, two chimneys
Billowing smoke as if we were
In the middle of winter, and the women
In the office said, two planes.
And the one who usually flirts with me,
Didn't. I thought of getting my camera

But I turned around and the first parents
Were coming for their children, blank
Looks on their faces, while walkie talkies
Squawked in the hands of the deans. And
Then everyone gasped as the first tower
Fell, and again as the second one slid
To the floor of the plaza where r&b groups
Sing in the summer. I think of their doo-wop,
Now the iron is falling like rain, now that
Soot-covered men are walking, and leaders
Are beating the podium with their shoe.

In some classrooms teaching continued,
Teachers gripping the chalk in their fists,
Doggedly making marks on the board.
Students staring at the one word,
'Fundamentalist', asked
To go to the bathroom and never returned.
The entire math department huddled around a tv
Explaining the many sides of a pentagon.

So this is what it feels like, to be
In the shadow of the hawk, to have
The friendly skies turn dark and make us
Ponder the simple task of how to get home,
To hear educated men and women offer advice
Too short for the distance, too far from places
Where this is the norm, the everyday bombs, like
The opening and closing of books, the ending
Of sentences with prepositions. Yes,

We must go home now, as soon as the children
Have left, we must follow the trail of the aircraft
into and through the steel and concrete, the spill of
The water cooler, the aisle seat 4F ending up
Under an executive desk, the passenger a child
In fetal position, its mother ashamed as though
Death were her fault. To avoid blame
We must take the back streets,
Me and my Haitian colleague, who is Muslim.
She has retied her turban in the style
Of the Nigerian, so to go undetected through
Hostile territory, her tears springing fresh at each
Announcement, turning back at the roadblocks,
"Insh'Allah" her only prayer.

~ . ~

Real Truth #1
RD Armstrong

There's a commercial on TV
Maybe you've seen it? It shows
A gallery of young people
All colors (one race) saying
Matter of factly "I helped kill
A judge" or "I helped blow up
A bank" and so on. It's one
Of those anti-drug commercials
Designed to keep our kids away
From the crack pipe or that
Morning bowl of chronic.

But what if the government
Did a commercial like this?
Same gallery of faces only
A few years older, all colors
Same human race saying
"I helped oppress the enemies
of my government"
"I helped fund another open-
ended war"
"I ensured that the third world
would always be in debt"
"I paid for the bullets that killed
your little brother or sister"
"I helped Congress sit on its
hands while billions went to
the military buildup and nothing
went to defeating ignorance
or providing every man woman
and child with dignified health-care
or even uncontaminated water to drink"
"I helped Enron screw people out
of their pensions"
"I helped Osama bin Laden come
to power"
"I killed Slavs, Hu Tus, Muslims,
native Americans, Rwandans, and
anybody who got in the way of
American foreign policy over the last
fifty years"
"I'm a tax payer"
This message is brought to you by the IRS
"Your tax dollars at work"

~ . ~

lady liberty watches
Sarah Herrington

the breath of the city
exhales in a gasp
its life runs fleeing
away from the open wound
that will bleed smoke for months

hollowed out
what was full

i enshroud myself
in a mourning of dust
watch the souls run fleeing
past my eyes to heaven

i encase myself
in the smell of burnt
and burning

my words have left me
i post pictures in the streets

ghost faces
i've never seen
or will

i did not see
how my knees could break
i did not know
how i produced such hate
with my thriving

if only
i had heard the air shatter
before the crash

if only
i had reached out my hand
before the boom
of two worlds colliding
into one

i did not see
my eyes were veiled
as theirs

~ . ~

Denver Butson

we were in a place called aubergine
last night in my dream
you were wearing a yellow scarf in your hair
and the sky was purple in aubergine
there were no skyscrapers
falling on television sets
in aubergine in my dream
no sirens no smoke no tourists
come to look at what they saw
a thousand times falling
in their living rooms
there was none of that
and no memory of it either
not in aubergine
not in my dream
there was just you and me
and your yellow against the purple sky
in aubergine last night
in my dream

~ . ~

Ground Zero:  7 Come 11 !
Robert Dunn

The Committee says:  forget the malls,
The World Trade Center Mark II, the low-income
Housing, the baseball stadium, the trolley barn.
We are going to give Ground Zero
Back to the Indians—to wit:  the Mohawk
Tribe. We're never going to clean the place out,
Anyway, and we do have a history of sticking
The Native Americans with the most
Unappetizing lands imaginable, so "Why-y-y not?"
The Tribespeople are going to build a casino-hotel
On that site: the Mohawk Manahattan Mohican.
It'll make those dives in Connecticut look sick.
And they're going to do it up big, too—120 storeys
Of table games, slot machines, and hotel suites—
Forgive me, but the sky is truly the limit here.
And they'll put an Olympic-sized swimming pool
On top—the world's highest swimming pool,
You know—and you can bet that will put the "high"
Back into "high dive." (Having all that water
Up there, pumped directly from the Hudson River
Just for the atmosphere, is also a fire-safety feature.)
Of course, you won't be able to use the diving boards
During a high wind, but why quibble?
      And keep
An eye out for the Manahattan $24 Fun Books—
Full of exciting offers and coupons. It'll be the only
Casino Fun Book bound in a bullet-proof vest.
Vegas has nothing like it—will never have anything
Like it—and don't even mention Atlantic City.
So book your reservation (pun not intended) early,
Before Bum Ladin wants another rematch.
After all, it was either this—or build another Home Depot.

~ . ~

Nursery Rhyme
Richard Pearse

If this little pig went to market
and this little pig stayed home,
then my chances are 50-50,
at least for today.

I pull down my shade,
draw my chair closer to the TV.
Smoke and ash in my hair. A bombing?
Could have hit my straw home.

Hard to sleep, and daylight
blares up—sirens, screams.
What are the odds
today's my day for market?

Or for roast beef.
I can't help the cries
of my four brothers and sisters
except, when my turn comes, to scream "We!"

Point-Blank | Point of Honor | Distance | Order | Point Resumed