Battle Hymn of the Republic: September 11, 2002

8:46, 2002

bells, rarely used
cannot help but sound—
portentous, muffled,
crêped still in city roar
you can almost hear the listening,
strung thin in solution
waiting for the crystal of shared experience
as memory works its mystification
channels its falsehoods deeper
stumbles on new truths unrecognized

and we kept moving

marching forward into the future,
feeding ravenously on our past
we build a kind of grim commerce
with the dead
the flag for sale everywhere
baseball caps, formfit
cut-off Ts—DKNY/FDNY—
its hard to know where remembrance
ends and fashion begins

detained, awaiting proof
that everything changed
that for one moment we felt
strongly outside ourselves,
fading into business,
as usual

the markets close up
rebounding in sagged relief
on news of another day
without an obvious terror

late afternoon—strong winds
and trees, feeling the change
shedding deadwood in a steady hail
against the cold to come

we’ve become so adept at describing
holes in the ground, holes in the sky
hallowing ground and sky
talking of heroes and sacrifice
only to stumble and stutter
faced with a single human gap
in the groundmelt of our permafrost soul

Antick Key Bridge lamp posts sway
menacingly above a clothesline of joggers
pinched and dripping,
the Potomac’s shit-brown joining regulation
governmental earthtones, hesitating
toward beauty, tautening into late summer clarity

remembering to stop
is not in our nature

and there is teaching and learning
to be done, or at least classes to take


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