this is the day

when people ask

“where were you

when the sky went black

when we lost our innocence

when the world collapsed

in fire and smoke?”

it is the first of such

days for me

i know it shan’t

be the last

my mother’s father was born

the year the great war ended

her mother was alive

when wall street fell

my father’s parents

were children of the great depression

who remember peal harbor

grandpa nearly died

in a war hospital

my parents tell me

about jfk and the shots fired

mom saw the second shooting

live on tv

as for me

i was three weeks distant

from my fourteenth birthday

plodding through algebra

at a snail’s pace

while downstairs mom

checked the news

i don’t remember how it happened

but i saw one tower fall

then the other crumble

into dust

no more ‘top of the world’

where mom had stood

i hardly knew

what those buildings were

but now they were gone

hollowly my mother

echoed that refrain:

“the world trade center is gone”

we held each other

on the recliner couch

sobbing in fear and disbelief

eight years in the future

i don’t think anyone

really understands

what happened

that sunny september day

heroes were born

to die the next minute

‘hate’ for the first time was real

and came with the price tag

of 3,000 souls

for a few months

we were a country

bound together by grief

then blame and greed and power

crept in unawares

and none of us was

really sure anymore

what was happening

or why because

we’d let ourselves


in eight more years

the memory will be

further yellowed

until it becomes

just another day again

like pearl harbor

or armistice or normandy

days dusty scholars

drill us on in history class

but few remember

perhaps forgetting

can help us here forgive

but a wound uncleaned festers

poisoning the body quietly

so recall what courage won us

what love bought us

what justice brings us

and mercy gives us

and remember, remember,