Flying in America
We wait silently in snaking lines,
No companionable murmurs or impatient sighing,
repeating drone of low-paid workers searching for the next
Bring out your laptops, they chant.
We shuffle, juggle,
The airport newsstands, united.
Front covers immortalizing new
icons of death.
Passengers are but moments away from mentally reenacting the
Why buy images already boxcut into our souls?
rewrite and rewrite cartoon scripts on takeoff.
grabbed the pots of scalding coffee from the tiny galley and aimed real
SPLASH! WHAMO! ARRGH!
The bad guy instantly felled by
The universe was saved!
and ... CUT!
In flight, I
glance at the magazine my subconscious willed me to buy.
perfect papier-mâché pumpkins grace the cover.
Good god! Its
The secret of forcing spring blooming
flower indoors, in winter,
Their names roll
off my tongue.
Imagine all the daffodils living life in peace.
Flight attendants are sniffling into shredded tissue.
2,700 of their
coworkers were laid off yesterday. Their
jobs may be
The single cell of Martha Stewart in me would like
make it all
Youre doing a good job, I
Americas gonna keep flying.
But what I really want
is grab the microphone and shout,
Attention ladies and
We are about to learn how to keep on LIVING.
were going to learn how to bloom
in the dead.
-- C. Richardson
Mother of Sorrows
Solace of shock, pray for us
Healer of grief, pray for
Absorber of tears, pray for us
Protector of children, pray for
Calmer of fear, pray for us
Healer of hurt, pray for us
courage, pray for us
Strengthener of faith, pray for us
Peace of the
terrified, pray for us
Home of the lost, pray for us
Song of the brave,
pray for us
Rest for the tired, pray for us
Forgiver of our enemies,
pray for us
Guardian of our enemies children, pray for us
to the future, pray for us
Queen of Peace, pray for us
-- M. Therese Casey
A Sun Without Justice
La Mirada, Calif.
In ancient Arabic texts, the wingless bird symbolizes
mans lower nature. The sun usually signifies justice. However, in hot
countries, the midday sun is considered destructive, because it kills the
vegetation that sustains life. It is a sun without justice. The Bible refers to
it as the demon of midday. In folklore, sulphurs red flames
represent the underworld and the devil, who always smells of
--Marie-Louise von Franz, Alchemy
Two wingless birds,
two demons turned before
sun and slammed
into the heart of the world.
Their red sulphur
shot from two towers
where life once flowed.
Tell the sun
from its dark mind;
leave no shadows
on the mourning
made of paper,
bone, and ash.
Have the trees chant
while the cathedral
leans forward -- its windows
on the horizon.
The eagle flies
above the midday
above the ruins
and the screeching
of the trapped
Through the acrid incense,
the corruptible earth,
it carries all souls to heaven:
where life once flowed
and will flow again.
-- Joan Rizzo
not the dust
death isnt hanging heavy in the air this
at least not here.
the breeze from the harbor is welcome,
cooling my cappuccino.
* * *
the air is clear, only some dust
coming from construction across the street
but not the dust of cement
crushed and felled
from two hundred stories in free fall
not the dust of
cracked toilets, decimated terminals,
desk frames giving up loved ones to
fire and fury
not the dust of vaporized bones and startled souls
crossing over, high above the harbor
not the dust of doors sealing office
or windows slashing wrists, necks, arteries
in their accidental
fall into grace
not the dust of dreams imploding across
the backdrop of
with a morning coffee
* * *
the city searches past the dust
ventilated, searched out the newest hope
the oldest routine
in the warm
early summer day,
not the dust
-- Sr. Charleen M. [Pavlik]
In hard times
you go to the center.
centripetal force towards home,
the softness stronger than stone.
In hard times
youre the pilgrim
for whom all are
Nothing is left to sell or barter
but ones life in
-- Sr. Carl Bialock, RSCJ
Disaster has brought them to this site
Of the blasted
and collapsed extremities
Of what had been human buildings, to do
Dogs work of educated search and retrieve.
handlers orders, they pass
Knowing eyes over the working area,
Knowing by scent, here is work to be done.
None of them
socializes: to one another
They are working partners, like the humans
Who died in the disaster, or the pairs
Of searches and carnage-carriers
To the site. Unlike these, they do not
Drink coffee, make
desperate jokes, scratch
Their heads with helmets off -- only focus
dogs work, until dogs tired relief
From cadaver-fetch; they
cannot show grief.
-- Nancy G. Westerfield
September 11, 2001
At the altar, it is easy
to accept the Body given
for us, all linen and flowers,
the Host small and flat, bread
dissolves simply in saliva.
But there in the rubble
bodies were given
for each other, strong hands
hauling others through
until the towers fell
and bodies became ash and
the cream-colored dust still
drifting to windowsills,
as we walk slowly past,
watching the rescuers
to the smoldering heaps,
the long silent liturgy of hope
Here Christ comes
to life among us
risen in these
and these living,
their bodies given
in labor and
Here the Spirit draws us
beyond this destruction
love stripped to bone,
given over and over
to open this tomb
giving and forgiving
that will become
-- Sr. Doretta Cornell, RDC
2001 in Poetry
2000 in Poetry
1999 in Poetry
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National Catholic Reporter, October 19, 2001