September 11, 2001
below are pieces offered by members of the Forward Motion Writers'
Community in the wake of the disasters of September 11, 2001. Some
are readings from which they found solace and others are original pieces they
wrote to help heal the loss.
work provided by ClickArt Infinity and Lazette Gifford)
Henry Scott Holland
am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the where the sea and sky meet and
mingle with each other. Then someone at my side exclaims, "There, she's
Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in hull and
mast and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her
load of living freight to the place of her destination. Her diminished size is
in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "She's gone,"
there are other eyes watching for her coming, and other voices ready to take up
the glad shout, "There, she comes!"
Many, many ships set sail for their destination this past week, and I pray for
their safe passage. My deepest sympathy to those who were left behind, and
watched them go.
(I wrote this poem for a personal grief.
I wish to share it with those grieving now.)
I will be calling your name
a long time
in disbelief of silence.
I will awake from too many dreams
believing you returned.
to the Fallen
Darkness devours the sun; the sky throws down
A rain of stones, a snow of ash and pain.
Two mountains fall that were a city's crown;
And fire devours the star of empire's reign.
Heroes leap in -- this is a hero's place --
Bring light to darkness, free the trapped and lost,
Move on with name unknown and unseen face,
And in a moment's horror pay the cost.
In smoke and fires of hell the brave maintain
The search, the fight, the war for others' sons
And their own lost, caught in this new-born plain;
Scarred earth ungraciously gives back those it has won.
We hold you in our hearts, we will not let
Your faces fade; and we will not forget.
Copyright 2001, by Holly Lisle
for the dead
dance for the dead
they were New Yorkers
they had theatre tickets and dreams of dancing
they had lives and hopes and fears
they didn't know each other any more than I know them
dance, dance for the dead
they were the world's worst boss
and the world's greatest boss who had a coffee cup that said world's worst boss
they were alive
they were themselves
they were and weren't this or that and had their fifteen minutes' fame from
warhol on down
they didn't want to die
and if they were the wicked witch of the west
they had little dogs too
it's anyone on a day like that
the moment before
who was cruel and kind, beautiful and ugly, nasty and nice and bored and excited
who in there had the best news of their life
the moment before it ended
who in there had the worst
before they could never hear news again
dance, dance for the dead
they were who they are not unremembered now
they live across the world in hearts that never knew them and they dance across
the eyes and minds of those that never knew them
dance, dance for the dead
and remember the songs they all knew
the show must go on
they'd have all wanted to go to that one
dance, dance for the dead
they are unforgotten.
Hearts are broken
hearts are broken; our spirits are not. We wept, almost a continent away, when
the first pictures came to us. We wept when Seattle sounded sirens for fallen
fire fighters and police. We wept during a moment of silence followed by the
tolling of the bells. We wept when we lit candles and again when we piled
flowers at the International Fountain. We wept for the dead. We wept for the
living. We wept for something we lost, even if we couldn't define what that was.
Our hearts are broken; our spirits are not. The blood center reached its
capacity in one week and still people came. AT&T Wireless donated phones to
rescue workers; Starbucks donated coffee. Microsoft matches employee donations
to the Red Cross, in addition to its $10 million donation to the September 11th
Fund. Shipwreck Beads employees donated all the funds saved for their company
party. Children break open their piggy banks and donate their pennies. Every
radio station is flooded with calls from people donating more. Everywhere,
people talk and hug and reach out to each other. Everywhere, people wear red,
white, and blue, even if only in ribbons. Everywhere, people fly flags.
Everywhere, people ask, what can we do?
We can survive.
We will survive. We will heal. We will rebuild.
We will remember.
Our hearts are broken; our spirits are not.
Haiku of Loss
Day of Mourning
Gray sky weeps with all the world
Tears to soon to heal.
hands, we ask
For strength, hope and compassion
End to suffering.
The proud bright skyline broken,
Shall tears ever end?
wounded New York
Does the sky still weep for those
We will not forget?
(from the "Dhammapada"
All beings tremble before violence.
All fear death.
All love life.
See yourself in other.
Then whom can you hurt?
What harm can you do?
He who seeks happiness
By hurting those who seek happiness
Will never find happiness.
For your brother is like you.
He wants to be happy.
Never harm him
And when you leave this life
You too will find happiness.
Never speak harsh words
For they will rebound upon you.
Angry words hurt
And the hurt rebounds.
Like a broken gong
Be still, and silent.
Know the stillness of freedom
Where there is no more striving.
Like herdsmen driving their cows into the fields,
Old age and death will drive you before them.
But the fool in his mischief forgets
And he lights the fire
Wherein one day he must burn.
He who harms the harmless
Or hurts the innocent,
Ten times shall he fall -
Into torment or infirmity,
Injury or disease or madness,
Persecution or fearful accusation,
Loss of family, loss of fortune.
Fire from heaven shall strike his house
And when his body has been struck down,
He shall rise in hell.
He who goes naked,
With matted hair, mud bespattered,
Who fasts and sleeps on the ground
And smears his body with ashes
And sits in endless meditation -
So long as he is not free from doubts,
He will not find freedom.
But he who lives purely and self-assured,
In quietness and virtue,
Who is without harm or hurt or blame,
Even if he wears fine clothes,
So long as he also has faith,
He is a true seeker.
A noble horse rarely
Feels the touch of the whip.
Who is there in this world as blameless?
Then like a noble horse
Smart under the whip.
Burn and be swift.
Believe, meditate, see.
Be harmless, be blameless.
Awake to the dharma.
And from all sorrows free yourself.
The farmer channels water to his land.
The fletcher whittles his arrows.
The carpenter turns his wood.
And the wise man masters himself.
Damon M. Lord
for those who have been lost
the waves on ocean winds,
their testament we shall sing.
Their words and faces immortalized,
as those who lived not those that died.
The men and women in the dirt,
they struggle to control their hurt.
We salute you for all you do,
these are people like me and you.
Hatred fills only bitter hearts,
look to the future vengeance depart.
Defend what is right and pure,
war cannot answer, violence cannot cure.
So look to those that died in vain,
they too had lives and dreams and hope and pain.
Remember them for they have gone,
listen well and hear their song.
Now there is peace for them,
for us it can be the same.
Wren and the Phoenix
The young architect, kicking through the fire-blackened debris of what had once
been a building, stops suddenly. Before him lies a single fallen stone and on
it, deeply graven, is a single word of Latin.
I shall rise again.
The year is 1666, the young architect is Christopher Wren and the building is
the old St. Pauls Cathedral, destroyed in the great fire of London.
Every visitor to London, everyone who has ever seen pictures of London, will
instantly recognise the great dome of Wren's masterpiece, the new St. Pauls
cathedral. It's an icon of London, a shape that speaks of history.
As the twin towers once identified New York.
It's time for vision, time for another Wren. As St. Pauls rose from the ashes of
the old London and became a symbol of recovery that speaks to us across the
centuries, so must something rise from the ashes of the towers. Not only another
building, although I hope to see something great and beautiful, something to
make the heart beat a little faster, standing on the site before the end of this
For a moment we have been united in sorrow. Now lets us be united in laying the
foundations of a better world. And let us remember the word that Wren had carved
beneath the image of the phoenix rising from the ashes at the south door of his
RESURGAM - I shall rise again.
was I, when the Towers fell?
It was mid afternoon, my time, when I heard.
The television made it seem like a show, not real at all.
It was the stuff of films, it didnít belong in reality.
After all, I was fine and we all carried on as normal:
The clock went on ticking, the phone continued to ring.
People complained about delivery times, requested items from stores.
Invoices needed passing and it was getting on for coffee time.
How could so much horror be happening, amidst so much normality?
As it was for me, so it was for them.
Just another day at work.
Here a model employee, there someone due for a dressing down.
New members of staff, nervous and eager to start;
Old timers looking forward to a long and relaxing retirement.
They had hopes and fears, plans for the evening, for the weekend.
A holiday just booked. An anniversary coming up.
Nothing bad could happen. They were as immortal as the rest of us.
The names may change, the faces may change.
But at the heart there is no difference.
They were no more and no less worthy than us.
Just normal people, living a normal life.
There was no difference between us but one:
When the towers fell, I was here and they were there.
And my ĎThereí was ĎHereí for them.
David Stone (c) 2001
The parade snakes by me. I watch and wait. There are bands, clowns, old men in
funny hats, girls dressed like Betsy Ross, boys dressed like minutemen. I stand
and salute as the flag passes by. And still I wait. And finally I see them, the
firefighters. As they come towards me the lights and sirens fill the air with
excitement. They are big, larger than life to a ten year-old boy. Heroes.
September 11, 2001
Clouds of ash, smoke and dust choke the air. I watch and I wait. There are
businessmen, secretaries, executives, a child clinging to her mother, boys in
school uniforms. Too shaken to stand I collapse onto the sofa. And still I wait.
And finally I see them, the firefighters. As people run terrified away from the
twisted steel and glass, they run towards it. Their voices are clear and loud in
the chaos. They seem small and frail to a thirty five-year old man. But still
To all the men and women of the New York City Fire Department and the New York
City Police Department. Thank you and God bless you. You have shown us the true
meaning of courage, pride and hope.
Autumnís thunder came;
The world shuddered, shook, collapsed.
Souls lost, terror-struck.
Dust rising. Silence.
Autumnís fallen sky at rest,
Plagued by frantic lives.
Loved ones sought with hope.
Autumnís victims mourned.
Pain, fear, sorrow, and loss,
With a crown of Pride.
The ash and smoke poured a cloud of terror and pain over the city, this city, my
home. And I was blinded to joy, and deaf to music, for those terrible hours.
Struck to the bone, I stood, uncomprehending, as the world turned, time passed,
the sun moved across my simple horizons, and every truth that I had believed in
crumbled before my eyes.
America, the Beautiful, slashed and scarred.
I thought then, of Thoreau, and felt terror grip my heart, for I heard no music.
And I shed no tears.
Escape! The thought dominated life. I fled. Curling into a foreign bed, I found
no comfort, and there was still only the eerie silence of my soul.
Days went by. Friends found, families soothed, and extraordinary heroism
Eventually, the line must be re-crossed, and so, to my own home I returned. The
fear - still strong. The grief - lessened, but never gone. But there, in the
streets, the people of my city, defiantly living. Inspiration in the faces of my
neighbors, strength gained with each step along my street.
And there, at last, among the familiar trappings of my life, I found again the
music. And I wept.
from subway to elevator
Switching on screens, calling up data
Candy and coffee next to the mouse
Photo of kids at grandmother's house
Mail in the tray that needs a reply
Then fire fell from the sky
Neat little pictures above the workstation
My wife on a boat, last year's vacation
The day is beginning, the phone starts to ring
Give it your best, for the customer's king
Orders and payments, or just asking why
Then war fell from the sky
She's new to the towers, finding her way
Still getting lost on her second day
She's stolen his heart with her smile and her eyes
Could this be love? Or where his hope dies?
He's putting off asking, painfully shy
Then death fell from the sky
He's broken by brokerage, stuck among stocks
Unbalanced by balances, job on the rocks
Now feeling his dealing's close to a crash
His brain plays with ways of raising the cash
He's not giving up - at least he can try
Then hell fell from the sky
Screaming sirens answer call
Heroes hands, healers' skill
Reaching out as towers fall
We, the caring, have the will
And now to you, who still remain
As bitter tears mix with the rain
Go on, for us, beyond your pain
For life must come again
Bob Billing - 21st September 2001