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Photos for Focus 9/11 ©2011, Rochelle Ratner
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Focus 9/11: Poems Part II

guest edited by Rochelle Ratner, with Daniela Gioseffi Editor Poets.USA continued

Click poets' names below to read their poems, or scroll down.

Tracy Mishkin | Barry Seiler| Jane Augustine |
David Beckman | Aliki Barnstone

Return: Part I: Rochelle Ratner's
Intro. to Focus 9/11 click here

Implosion by Tracy Mishkin

When they knocked down Market Square
last summer, my son watched it turn
to girders and smoke as people cheered.

He replayed it daily in Legos until I walked him
down the street to Pokemon and playground bullies.

But he came home mid-September drawing
buildings bisected by planes: "This is people falling.
This is fire. This is God frowning."

The towers are red, the planes are black.
God's face is very small.

Tracy Mishkin is an independent scholar and adjunct professor of English at Butler University in Indianapolis. She is the author of The Harlem and Irish Renaissances: Language, Identity, and Representation.

On the Wall Street Ferry by Barry Seiler

These cell songs rend the still
Sea air what reaches us
Is static hints of human

Voices breaking up
Mother and daughter snap
As we glide by smoke and ruin

Discreetly veiled how proper
They seem in matching outfits
I so want to say prim

Ordinary Names by Barry Seiler

A god in the shape
Of a cloud descends
And we are gone ex-

Tracted like a loose
Tooth a small gap crossed
By the tongue's rough tip

Recall us taste again
Our ordinary names
Meat of the living passed

Around the common table

Barry Seiler’s most recent book of poems is Frozen Falls, University of Akron Press, 2001. He divides his time between urban New Jersey and rural upstate New York.

September 15, 2001, Lower Manhattan
at Pine and William Streets
by Jane Augustine

Four days later, near the hollow
between standing buildings--but not
near enough, or too near--the pale
ash lay on cars, awnings, architraves,
hubcaps, on the high lamps' long
aluminum arms, in sidewalk crevices, on
curbstones, gutters, grills, ledges under
the plateglass windows of investment
banks, on manholes, drains, fire
hydrants, in cracks on macadam beside
marble steps up to the modern sculpture
whose bronze geometry blurred in dust;
in every wire twist of fence round wild
weeds in a vacant lot, each grass stem spiked
with fake white snow or spilled paint dulling
the green, and bits of flying paper, larger
gray flakes, blew--"Millenium Hotel," the rates
for luxury suites--impaled on auto antennae,
flattened on walls or stuck in street mud, while
everywhere the nearly invisible mist of ash
kept falling onto eyelids, brows, hair:
entering nostrils, ears, mouths, the utterly
pulverized, pure, fine atoms of bodies
of the dead sat on the tongues of the living.

Jane Augustine has published two books of poetry in 2002, Arbor Vitae (Marsh Hawk Press) and Transitory (Spuyten Duyvil). She is the editor of The Gift by H.D.: The Complete Text (UP Florida 1998). She lives in New York City and Westcliffe, Colorado

Physiology, 9/13/01 by David Beckman

A hand reaches into the chest,
encloses the heart
and squeezes.

Daily television keeps it tight,
daily papers keep it tight,
imagining the future keeps it tight.

Contracted muscles hate to release.
They are stubborn as stones.

Montauk, New York, 10/17 by David Beckman

Atlantic waves go blue to slate to dark green.
Fat clouds like those in children's books
ride overhead while surf whispers
in some language too old for speech.
A month ago did smoke of burning towers
migrate from Brooklyn past
Babylon, Patchogue, and Water Mill
to reach this stretch of sand?

And did a thousand
fading sparks,
freed from flesh,
ride that black wind
to alight just here,
between dunes and water?

Then we must kneel down,
as at some holy place.

David Beckman is a published writer of fiction, plays, screenplays and poetry. His novel, Under Pegasus was published by Golden Grove Books. His plays include "Becoming Walt Whitman," produced at the Powerhouse Theater in Santa Monica California. He was in Manhattan on September 11. His poems on that event have appeared in a privately published book accompanied by the eye-witness drawings of artist Graeme Sullivan.

Idealism by Aliki Barnstone

Emerson, what if you are right? Maybe
you hand me a plastic vial of anti-depressants

or maybe you stride over to the radio mumbling
in the background and turn the volume up so loud

my skull feels like a china sugar bowl
shattered against asphalt. “What opium

is instilled into all disaster!” or else
the structure of the mind collapses with experience

and the television images replayed, the slow falling
towers and fast falling people, the voice calling out

“Oh, my God!” The oversoul is splayed above
the mountains’ dark silhouette, a metallic sheen

above the airport’s happy neon and its bright spiraling
parking garages. It crosses the windowpane every minute,

rides in on the wings of jets, carries in the rancid air
from New York, the terrible ash from Washington.

I can’t help it, when I breathe, I smell the space
between souls—Emerson, is this what you meant?

The print on the page is the form, each letter
a part of a body, an arm, an eye and half a nose,

a leg and a penis and a pocket with a wallet
and money the owner can never spend, something to give

to the family, to identify the loved parts of a man.
Dear God, how can I reattach all this to the whole?

The words are the people when they stopped all the cars,
taxis, and trucks and got out. They stood all together

on the streets and all together they gasped
as they laid their hands on their hearts.

I wanted to make something beautiful to recall
you, Emerson, “Grief too will make us idealists.”

If I could concentrate on one thing or one life,
one name or one face, perhaps I would ascend

the stairs you speak of, would see God’s hieroglyph
written on the wall. I am afraid of heights

and don’t want to see with God’s fire-filled eyes,
don’t want to “die out of nature and be born again

in this new yet unapproachable America.”
Yet I want you to be right, if only I could see

with no pain-killer at all, if I could meet
a soul, if I could touch arms made of smoke.

Aliki Barnstone is a poet, translator, critic, editor, and visual artist. Her most recent books are Bright Body (White Pine Press, 2011), Dear God Dear, Dr. Heartbreak: New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2010), Changing Rapture: Emily Dickinson’s Poetic Development (University Press of New England, 2007), and The Collected Poems of C.P. Cavafy: A New Translation (W.W. Norton, 2006). In the fall of 2006, Barnstone was Senior Fulbright Scholar in Greece, where she did research for and wrote a sequence of poems, “Eva’s Voice,” in the voice of a Sephardic Jew from Thessaloniki, who survives the Holocaust. She is Professor of English and Creative Writing Program at the University of Missouri, Columbia, Series of Editor of the Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation, and Director of the MU Workshops in Greece – Athens/Serifos.

The above poems: Copyright © 2002-2011 by their authors. All rights, including electronic, are reserved by the authors and may not be used without permission.

"Barbie" 9/11 Photo. Copyright (C) 2001 Rochelle Ratner.

Focus 9/11: Poems edited by Rochelle Ratner continues to

Part III. Click to the next poems....> Ronald Wardell, Roger Mitchell, Barry Wallenstein, Michael Heller, Kate Iscol,Sharon Olinka, Corinne Robins, Clara Sala....>>>

Back to poems of Tracy Mishkin |
Barry Seiler| Jane Augustine | David_Beckman | Marilyn Kallet

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