September Voces (a sequence)

“No, it is not I, it is somebody else who is suffering,
I would not have been able to bear what happened”

Ossuary (a prologue)

Gone long enough
your flesh remains
only on paper arranged and ordered.

I play God and create
memory as art –
but if I could I’d have your bones.

No ash, no grave
but a complete form
for another generation
to exalt or outrage.

*  *   *

93rd Floor, 100th floor
6 AM
American Airlines, Flight 11

A dress transformed, a discount apparel,
all summer, a retailer
about 25 miles north, a longtime friend
accomplished seamstress

ask Andrew Casperson: did your girlfriend have
any flaws?At Princeton she made varsity a bonus

already they had their little jokes
an invitation she took, as only
a dad could do, at her age
afraid he would not make it out
authorities later

a jar at her parent’s home
a jar at her parent’s summer home,
an acquired taste she never acquired
all the children have acquired

business trip to Los Angeles
boarded flight 11
Boston on September 11
been looking forward, but she was much more
Brearly School, beautiful and funny
but that was the bonus,
but already they had their jokes,
bottle to his beer glass,
body in the rubble
before their bed time,
bread and their children, British expressions
boot for the trunk of the car

Colleagues boarded, California trip all summer
children, christening gown for Matthew, comforters

Catherine, concentrations in math and finance,
Channing Barnett a friend, charmingly self-deprecating

chide her for disobeying, Cheers
called Mrs. Madden

carried his own jar, consultant
clear, she liked his habit
Cantor Fitzgerald Cailiegh, 7

“– there’s a whole crowd gathered in that bird
thousands of people forgotten, wrinkles obliterated
broken embraces and uncompleted laughter,
arrested works, silent stations”   

Terminal Velocity

calcium, magnesium
returns to earth as stone

sodium, iron
turning an elemental wound

phosphorus, sulfur
incendiary flight returning

chlorine, iodine
in a dive unchosen

oxygen, carbon
through air holding

nitrogen, hydrogen
dust ascending the body plunges

* * *

Discount apparel, Douglas
did your girlfriend have
driving directions
daughter, 19 months old
Don’t grow up on me now
division of, determination

entire professional life
excited about having
everything in the house

editor of its newspaper
economics, expected the same when you met her

every morning before setting off
each night before bed
each morning little Tricia

enormous heart

Witness, One

I was thinking to write you before, at this point
I don’t know what to say.
I wake up and have to remember
the city burns. Standing down by the water,
near the diner, I watched the buildings, black and smoking
saw the first crumble. Grown men sobbing in public,
I didn’t cry ‘til much later.
I took pictures.

“—what does the black
static flame against the grey sky remember
wedged between man and the memory of man”

  * * *

forward to her business, friend,
flight, first for Jordan Marsh,
founding partner, ferocious
field hockey play, finished her homework,
friend, fretting
Fred Alger Management
first time father, forbid to mess with,
full head of hair, father and daughter,
flag outside, Flag! Flag!
floor of the South Tower,
Florham Park, found so endearing,
favorite game: Sandwich
fondness for Marmite

good time when they travel
granddaughter, girlfriend
graduated magna cum laude

good enough friend, get lost quite often
game, got home in time
going to play

had been looking, had been looking forward,
Harvard law,  head of hair, hang it again,
home, husband, her age, his daughter,
he was British, his wife Maureen,
he kept, he carried, her husband, holding her nose

inexhaustibly thoughtful
it allowed us to spend more time together
identified his body
inscription on his wedding ring
it’s an acquired taste

Jordan Marsh job
job as insurance broker
juice bottle to his beer glass
jar at her parents

kissed her father,
kept a jar,
kept a jar
Kyle, four, said he was going to play

Cardinal Rules

— like the time in my mother-in-law’s kitchen — how  I noticed no birds at the feeders.  She’d been gone two years at the point.

My husband and I had cleared out their house, preparation for winter. I can still feel that damp and colorless autumn, our fathers recently dead.

I see my husband in the cellar, weeping as he bled the hot-water heater dry.
How is it absence breeds more absence —

God grant me a seamless entrance and exit to these days,
keep me from trolling for memories and release me for I try
to place this sunset that binds me with color.

*  *  *

Looking forward, Los Angeles, loved to travel,
loved her job, longtime friend, life
Lauren her 8 year old, long pause,
law firm, Lebouf, Lamb, Green and MacRea
lost quite often, last time,
little jokes, little ritual, long before it was fashionable,
little Tricia, later identified, love Maura
liked his Marmite

MacKay, Ms MacKay, Massachusetts
Marshall’s, Matthew 13, made her wedding dress

MacRea, Magna cum laude in economics, math and finance
mother, Mr. Capersen: more time together

Madden’s daughter, months old
morning before, me now, morning little Tricia would shout
Mr. Madden’s wife, Mauramy love, Maura

Maddison liked his Marmite, Maureen
making sure not to wake, making sure he got home
Mrs. Maddison spreads it over their toast

Witness II

Water peaceful, tides even on the shore but
beyond Manhattan’s barely visible.
Yesterday I traveled into the city, only as far as Delancey.
Barricades and police along Canal, thousands of cops,
Constant sirens and flashing lights, people,
masked faces with desperate eyes.
South to the business district only army men in fatigues,
ravaged cars, twisted metal, paper caught in tangles,
soft grey dust covers everything

The Next Day, Boston

Bless the black Mercedes, cutting me off.
bless the cell phone and the ear

pressed against it. Bless the sneakers
running in and out of shadows

on the way to the park; the workers there
treating a diseased elm. Bless the elm.

Bless the suit jacket draped over his arm,
the arm and shoulder dressed in oxford cloth,

the neck and tie. Bless the pulse
in the neck and high-heals racing

for the train, the wheels on the stroller,
bless her cursing mouth, the hand

tossing the coffee cup.
Bless the pissing in the bushes,

the singing in the car,
the visible breath of autumn air.

*  *  *

Nan Alphen, neighbor in Westford, northwest of Boston
newspaper, never pulled an all-nighter
not great with driving, New Jersey,
night before bed, not make it out
not easy to find, never acquired it
no, your going to play with your lorries

often on the phone  only nineteen months old
of course she took as invitation  only as a dad
one other outside his home     on September 11
of the south tower    out
one of the routines    over their toast and bagels
one thing must be clear

president,  part of the job,  pillows
partner,  player,  pulled an all-nighter,
people always wanted her at their parties
Patricia,  proud that at her age
pillows as the bread

question at last
quite often
Rich, all my love
remove it

“– Here dust remembers it was a rose.”

*  *  *

Susan, she and some colleagues,
September 11, she was so excited
she was much more
seamstress, she loved to sew
sister got married last fall
she made the wedding dress

she made varsity,
she never
she was inexhaustibly thoughtful
seemingly to hundreds, she was beautiful
and funny and self-deprecating
she was 23, stock analyst
spend more time together

she kissed her father
setting off for his job
she took, shout, Flag! Flag!
south tower

Simon, she liked his habits
she hated Marmite
she never acquired, soft ware consultant
sure not to wake, sure he got home
Sydney, 1 serviette instead of napkin,
spreads it over, she’ll never remove it
sort of smells better now

Witness III

It hurt my eyes, my lungs dry and hollow.
Road back over the Brooklyn Bridge,
orange and grey the sun set.
The wooden slats rattled as I road
voice of the bridge —  granite and mortar
witness of modernity.  We struggle
to connect, to harmonize this. . .  the light and darkness.
It is hard to know what to do.

* * *

TJX, travel part, they have a good time
they were the highlight,
transformed her wedding dress into a christening gown
the Beardsly School, the math prize
talked on the phone three times a day
that was a bonus, time together
they had their, then when he got home
took as invitation, to clink her juice bottle to his beer glass
take down the flag, Tricia, time to hang it again
the authorities, the rubble, the inscription
the spread made from yeast, taste and smell
time to play, his three children the ingredients
traces of her husband, they say, toast and bagels

“I must kill memory once and for all,
I must turn my soul to stone,
I must learn to live again”

* * *

us   up

unwavering determination

Varsity squash

very proud

Canto Fermo

Sing me blue, sing me jazz,
with the rhapsody of sirens.

play me home, on dobro
or mandolin, play them home now.

Move the day into many days,
move us along with a shuffle,

a waltz beyond the atrocity’s
invitation. Please, a canticle

for the innocents, hurled
from the cradle rocking and hopeless.

*  *  *

weeks when, when they traveled
was later, was much more,
working woman, was so, Westford
were the highlight
wedding dress, wedding dress

was put to, won the, was ferocious,
with concentrations, work a week ahead
was never, when you met her, was inexhaustibly
was not being good enough, was beautiful
wanted her, was 23, World Trade Center
was not great, we’d get lost, was a bonus

was only, when he kissed her, would warn her
work, when he got, would chide her,
would also forbid, which of course, would take down,
would shout, was time, was a strong
wife Maura, was very, wanted the flag,
would not make it out, wedding ring which read

was British, was not easy to find,
with your, which is made
wife Maureen, wake his wife when
with his three, was,
with pillows, he was going to

“I don’t want of piece of him found –
I need to think of him as somewhere, whole.”

Tantum Ergo

Down in the river,
as egrets or swans, down
along mud flats not yet frozen.

Where minnows have grown
to trout or bass. Where frogs
no longer sing.

Here we’ll bring loaves to cast
on the water as estuaries
eddies feed the bays or bayous.

And we’ll wait, you and I,
no matter your beliefs,
for the coming storm called salvation.

8 thoughts on “September Voces (a sequence)

  1. Matt September 28, 2011 / 6:00 AMSep

    Kind of put me to sleep

  2. ammiblog September 11, 2011 / 6:00 PMSep

    That’s probably why it won’t win chapbook contests. . . not to be negative about my own work. One of my inspirations for the construction of the poem was a piece of work the artist Julie Speed ( I got to visit her studio before she moved to West Texas and I commented on a mixed media piece on the wall. She said after she saw the towers fall she walked out into her studio and just made it. It was a building tower, single one, composed of words. And the top was a cascade of small rectangles of words in the act of falling. For my poetry the idea was how to build up something new when you’ve un-constructed an other’s words like the obituaries.

    Also, just before I moved to Austin, my friend’s son was killed in a car accident as he drove home. He’d just finished his first year at Boston College. One of the only things you can do in that situation is to listen. She would say the same things about him repeatedly. The poem’s repetition of words and images, is an echo of her grief.

  3. Jamie Holts September 10, 2011 / 6:00 AMSep

    Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago on Technorati and have been reading it over the past few days.

    • ammiblog October 2, 2011 / 6:00 PMOct

      Thank you, sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. I hope you stop by again soon.

    • ammiblog October 2, 2011 / 6:00 PMOct

      Thanks! Stop by again.

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