Three Poems For 9/11

Thoughts on 9/11 by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Rob Schultheis and David Feela

Empire State When I question why Susan and I continue to toil away on Telluride Inside… and Out, along comes something like this: three of our favorite poets/writers gave us three very different, but all beautiful, poems to honor memory of the events of September 11, 2001.

9/11/2001 holds a special place in our personal memories. Though we did not lose loved ones in the tragedy, there was an almost dime-novel aspect in the way we and ours experienced the horrors of that day.

Susan and I arrived in Newark, NJ on the evening of 9/10, ten years ago tonight, to help her parents settle into a new apartment in Hackensack. The next morning her father and I were sitting on the terrace, enjoying the brilliant early autumn morning, when the phone rang: "Turn on the TV!", and we did, just in time to watch the second plane crash into the tower. Then went back outside to see the black plume of smoke rise above the buildings across the street.

Meanwhile, Kid #2, Kjerstin was under the path of United 93 as it crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside, and my first wife, Barbara, was in suburban Virginia when the Pentagon was hit. The only available common point of contact was Kid #1, Kimm, who kept the rest of us informed from Bellevue, Washington.

On Saturday of that week, Susan and I were staying with a friend in Manhattan. I took a run that morning, and without planning it, headed down the West Side, until I had to stop at the barricades at Houston Street, or was it Canal Street? If only we, as a nation, could recover the feelings I encountered that morning: hundreds of strangers stood at the blockade, looking at the smoke still coming up from the ruins, and they were quiet, respectful, not apparently angry, just needing to connect. Many of them spent time looking at the "Have you seen…" leaflets festooned on the chain-link fences along the Hudson River.

As I write this, the evening of 9/10/2011, I am once again sitting in the living room that has been the home of Susan's parents for the past ten years,and I am once again transported to that morning, ten years ago… But this time there are others' memories intermixed with my own. Thank you, David, Rob and Rosemerry, for sharing your thoughts.

Three Candles

by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

for Finn, born September 11, 2004

Into the Duncan Hines mix for white cake I blend
free range omega three vegetarian-fed jumbo brown eggs,
organic cold expeller pressed canola oil,
and filtered water from these mountains
so close to the source where the journey of water begins.

Life is as inconsistent, love, as your birthday cake,
with its GMOs and artificial flavors
and then the best eggs to be found.

It’s like the day you were born,
the whole world reeling again from how hate
can cleave a gray scar through the sky, and meanwhile
love pushes itself through our bodies, says,
“Here I am and there is no sidestepping life.”

And Hallelujah is right. What else can we say
on a day with both frost and bright flash of sun,
with peaches still sweet on the limbs of the trees
and in the garden the lettuce all bitter and gone to seed.

Nothing is easy to grasp.
When you use only your hands and your mind,
what is real will always escape.
It’s like trying to hold water in the fingers,
like trying to hold the names of all stars in the brain.

We gather what we can, and this is pleasure:
learning to reach toward both ends
while in the center we breathe in, breathe out, breathe in,
make a wish.



by Rob Schultheis

In dying empires no one wants
to hear the truth,  so nobody tells it;
 the air is full of sweet lies and lullabies
to keep things Quiet;  do not disturb,
while the walls come tumbling down
undermined by malice and madness.
No one’s dusted the gods for years;
they scowl on their altars, hating  us
for forgetting them,
rejoicing in our ruin.
There are no barbarians at the gates;
there never were;
we are the nightmares
that are killing us,
the enemies that fall from the sky
like a million snowflakes
silent and light as air.


The Towers of Babel

by David Feela

If I were a Muslim
I’d try not to speak
in this poem, on this
day, when ideology
crashed into steel.
What could I say
if I were a Muslim.
What could I do
except go to the mosque
and pray, pray to Allah
that Jesus Christ
won’t be angry
for ten more years,
seeking blood for blood,
praying to Jesus Christ
that Allah won’t
be vilified forever. 
Not forever
but on this day
when all it takes
is the wrong word
to start the twin tears
falling again, as if
I ever intended to do
anything today except
go to the mosque
and pray, pray that
Allah won’t leave me
here in a land of fear
and reproach for being
a Muslim man, unpacking
these words from my heart
and leaving them
beside my shoes
at the door.

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