( / West Hartford, CT)

September 11 (See New Revision)

I slouch into my class, bowed by the brute,
apocalyptic shock. No student's eyes
forsake the glowing screen; the sound is mute.
Their center, Yeats's vatic lines forewarn, flies
apart, a deluge soundless as white soot,
tsunami boiling dust from toppled skies,
benumbs the class, makes exegesis moot,
and seizes the innocent with stifled sighs.

The students stir, but no one leaves or speaks
so I'm not forced to feign I understand
'indignant desert birds' until next week's
remarks on beasts that stalk the troubled sand.
I chew my lip and mumble class dismissed;
follow them out, my pockets crammed with fist.



[Allusions are to 'The Second Coming' by W. B. Yeats.]

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Comments (5)

Aside to Robert Howard: Add this to poignancy: almost one-third of students at the University of Hartford came from the New York- New Jersey area; the only exchange occurred in the hall before class: a young man reported that Sarah ____ 's mother perished in Tower I, and asked permission to keep his cell-phone on because his uncle was missing. The soundless replay was mesmerizing, ineradicable.
I also taught class on that September 12th. I drove to work like a zombie. I expected the parking lot to be a desert but had to circle for a quarter hour to find a place. The choir was rehearsing a piece called For Our Country. The text was written by a Methodist minister who was an outspoken war protester in Japan during WWII. I asked the group to sing the piece for themselves and they did with every dropp of blood that flowed through their collective heart!
A version of this sonnet about 9/11 appeared on the first page of the International Who's Who In Poetry a couple of years ago.
Scene: Teaching literature course, University of Hartford,9/11-9/12.
Exegesis unneeded, praise redundant.. Can I post this on the forum.. Thanks WfD.. just about to... jim