Thursday, September 15, 2016

Boldt Words & Images: 9/11 (a poem)

By Bob Boldt

[Editor’s Note: Published on the 15th of the month in recognition of this September’s being the 15th anniversary of that 9/11.]

United Airlines Flight 175 passengers knew they were heading toward
meaning, madness, Mecca or mayhem, but they knew not which.

The fasten seat belt had been impotently flashing. A small, empty
liquor bottle, its contents gone, lolled side to side on the aisle
carpet finally coming to rest against the toe of Ahmed al-Ghamdi’s
Ahmed al-Ghamdi, one of the five hijackers
The lovers lounged doe-eyed in Central Park.
Reptile-jawed dollar merchants on Wall Street eyed the clear September
air and dreamt of iron-horned bulls.

Father Mychal Judge kissed his cassock, his yoke, his bride – ritually
but with a seventy-eight-year-old passion—a kiss only Christ or The
Prophet (blessed be His name) would welcome or understand. This very
day the priest would meet his Christ face to face and kiss Him lip to
lip in Paradise.
Father Mychal Judge, the first certified fatality of 9/11

On Hester Street, the Streets and Sanitation Department truck bearing
its small ocean passed, hemorrhaging water like a bloody Saint
Sebastian. The freshly showered pavement gratefully glistened, a
Walden Pond, mirroring a deeper sky and the low-flying plane soaring
over the late summer rooftops secure in their human geometry, as
permanent as yesterday.

A New York City fireman was hauling his cast iron waffle – an embossed
manhole cover like a beached filigreed sea turtle back to cover the
black hole in the middle of the East Village street.

His raw beefsteak Irish face suddenly rubberbanded his muscular neck
up seconds before impact. ”What the f...” was all he swore out at the
low-passing metal monster overhead.

Wild and banshee-wailing, the first huge carrion furnace of fury stiff-
winged its way out of the peaceful summer sky like a boisterous thug
tearing at the stunning blue, flag-snapping day.

And then came the first of the twice-great kissings – twice the great
metal birds of death met the immovable vertical elevens in the Gotham

More amazing, and seemingly less real than Hollywood, the eyes denied
(or tried to deny) the first erupting vomit of visceral flame and the
hornet’s angry breath of black smoke. Then suddenly again there was a
twin metallic cry of the now familiar low-throated hum of the thirsty
jet intakes followed by the second sickening thud as another missile
kissed metal and glass. This time electronic eyes were ready. Slowly,
reluctantly they focused, telegraphing the second impending
unthinkable, this time to thousands.

Tower One seemed to welcome the second plane like a lover – its skin a
quietly parting, pliant curtain of steel and glass. Only a fraction of a
second later came the confirming sound of reality. Sound is an old
widow, slow and stumbling, blindly lingering behind mercurial sight.

At ground Zero, a wingless and heedless Icarus desperate to join the
cirrus cumulous leapt out into the only clean, cool air beyond the
fiery shattered 85th floor window. His freefall pose resembled a
discarded chair falling, falling, only to become a thudding slurried
sack of red mud on the unforgiving sidewalk.

Then with a demonic magician’s sleight of hand, both screaming towers
dream-vanished into the earthborn clouds of dust.

The day’s blue would be suddenly filled with shards of grey, floating
paper fragments – the torn and distressed feathers of doomed angels
following their Light Bearer seeking the nether regions. A horizontal
snowstorm of paper debris seemed to defy gravity. IBM cards danced
sideways patiently settling through the Pompeiian dusk.

Through the shock of streets turned lunar, appearing and disappearing
ghosts sleepwalked through their blood-grey ocean of pumice mist.

That day, that beggar’s day, that thief’s day, the day of lovers
lounging in Central Park changed everything – the way only the
matchstick-thin, bony talons and the insatiable mouth of Death can
change everything – the way only the tender reach of love has ever been
able to heal – anything.

Copyright © 2016 by Bob Boldt


  1. Oh my. Heedless Icarus. Bob you know who this is, that was my gut reaction and to add anything is but to gild the lily. Thanks.

  2. MoristotleSaturday, September 17, 2016 at 2:57:00 PM EDT
    9/11 still smolders, and Bob Boldt's poem renders it powerfully. As one reader put it on Facebook: "I'm not one to throw flowers at anyone, but that is some good emotion-generating art there!"

  3. "I'm not one to throw flowers at anyone but that is some good, emotion-generating art there. Like good visual art makes the eye travel around, following the lines, a good poem like this makes the mind dart about, following the....what, the flow maybe?" I also liked the photos, we're really looking at a multimedia piece here, with the visual impact multiplied by the verse. Roger Owens

    1. Thank you, Roger, for coming and speaking here for yourself!