Monday, September 12, 2011

Commemorating from my armchair

I've been watching The History Channel all evening commemorating 9.11. It was filmed mainly by amateur cameras and cellphones. Our middle son was cooped up in his office three blocks away until the order finally came to evacuate and walk north. Outside was pitch black. Of course he walked right back south taking photos which he sent me (of fog). Most of his friends came late to work as they had been at the special early morning minyan during the month of Elul. When they arrived they were turned back. That was why so many orthodox Jews escaped. One thing that I noticed was how many people just looked blank. There were a few who showed their real terror but on the whole it was 'Omygod' and transfixed, until the first tower collapsed, when they ran for their lives. We really do need art, whether still or movie, to pin down our feelings or even tell us what we ought to be feeling.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


On this 10th Anniversary of 9.11. ie 9.11.2001, here on 9.11.2011 is another poem I recalled:

A Terrible Splendor

To A.B. Yehoshua for ‘a terrible splendor…’ in 'Facing the Forests'

When the world went up in flames it burned my books,
Thoreau, Mendlessohn and Diderot,
up from the forest flew the cawing rooks
and crows and ravens, nature’s lava flow
reversing gravity or mocking God,
reversing time, as flight solidified
to lifeless pitch or serpent turned to rod,
a floorless crater or a child who died.

When the world went up in flames it burned my soul,
Sabbath, loves and memoirs, history;
out of the window flew my certain goal
that I had lived for and my family
would judge and redirect their halting feet,
forsake beliefs embedded in their bones.
Now conflagration of my icons greet
my eyes while ancient symbols turn to stones.

When God awoke and said “let stars explode”
I was an angel, awed, bewildered, lost;
I had been blind but certain of my road
sailing a captained ocean, trusting, tossed;
stark horror, beauty, terrible splendor burst
upon my eyes and ears, my nose and brain -
I knew our fragile lives were changed and cursed
convulsing chaos like a world insane.

23 Dec.06

In 'Facing the Forests' AB Yehoshua describes a planted memorial forest in Israel going up in flames; for more telling details read the short story. Some Israelis watching the horrific burning of the WTC in NY on 9.11 quoted Yehoshua and were ironically misunderstood. Their words were insightful and prophetic.


Here is a poem I remembered from my writings 10 years ago (It's 9.11.2011 today)


Bad press, that’s what we got, bad press,

Caught by our color, black we are, caught caught,

Betrayed by our feathers’ murky, inky gloss…

So black we are! Bad press! Bad press!

Those beady eyes and beaks of ruffled

Mockingbirds and tawdry jays,

With fickle mates and seasonal calls

Have no respect for us, their betters!

Claws, claws and jabbing beaks good only for

Small grain and grubs,

But we, we love for life, true love like doves,

We soar in flight like hawks like hawks,

We fly in packs like running wolves,

We sit for Pow-wows like our Northern worshippers,

Yet stoned we are, and cursed and blamed;

Raucous they call us,

Omens, famine, death… Unfair ! Unfair!

You clothed ones down below!

Look up, behold!

We mighty ones! Our pitchy hue

Encloses stout hearts,

Long memories, so when you come with beaks and sticks

We rise, majestic, noblesse oblige -

With cause, with cause.

Linda Hepner