For David, who worked on the 79th Floor
WTC South, 11 September 2001
(Winner of the 2003 Word Journal Poetry Prize)
How could we know, over Italian sausage
grilled with peppers, onions, in Glen Island Park,
as we chatted about work—accounting, finance,
career paths, directions—that three months later
the building you worked in would collapse in a cloud
of powdered plaster and smoke on national TV?
Watching, I prayed for your safety, and waited.
Through busy circuits my call somehow crossed
jammed lines, connected with family to learn:
you were late to work, two blocks away when
the second plane hit. Six months later you told me
how bits like meat and other debris rained
from the sky to speed your retreat, how you
crumbled inside like the steel and glass
fell in seconds. What you didn’t say was how,
after all this time, the dust still lingers.
(Note: "Duende" is a Spanish term that means "inspiration or
passion"; it also means "spirit." Federico Garcia Lorca spoke
of it in his book In Search of Duende, saying that it brings
"feelings of freshness, with the quality of something newly
created, like a miracle" and that it "does not come at all
unless [the artist] sees that death is possible.")
Angels in Conference
What strange creatures
from the beginning
insist on having
their own way
And our Maker Himself
condescending to be
one of them!
He must know something
The Son's Proclamation on the Appointed Morning
Like tainted metal
or rancid, uncooked meat, taste
of death on my tongue
cup of juice squeezed out--
this blood from the garden fruit
picked and eaten once.
I fed no grave worms,
no flames in the underworld.
I crushed his head, snake
who gave death to those
I love. The cup I drank is
empty now for all
who see me lifted,
bruised, bleeding, dead once--but now