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Tuesday, September 11, 2012


by James Penha

Image source: Prune Juice Media

Remembrances eventually retract
into quinquennials, decennials,
and sesquicentennialism:
they umber into history. And so
I wondered how many years before
no new poem
arrives here on a 9-11. Eleven.
I had watched those towers
grow against a twelve-inch ruler held
to my eyes on the stoop of my frat brother
Matthew's house in Brooklyn. We were awed
but resentful of the umbrage done
to the Empire State castrated
when the big antenna moved
to the ugly new kids on the block, but their
windows when open on the world of my city
invited an elevated self over and over
to that restaurant in the sky for birthdays
and engagements and golden anniversaries
of parents at the height of their joys. And later
when I was but a tourist in my town grabbing
the rings of Krispy Kremes at the plaza-level shop,
I looked up with my acrophobic lover at
buildings somehow beautiful by then. Eleven
years ago I thought about the sweet guys who worked
at Krispy Kremes and the guard at Radio Shack
in the basement who rudely stopped to search us
as if we would bother
to steal from Radio Shack and of Matthew who
worked at a bank across the street. There was
nothing from him for weeks until in November, recovering
from a coronary, Matthew emailed how he couldn't stop
the nightmares:
the figures spinning out from the smoldering buildings
as they fell. Eleven
years later Matthew still has terrible dreams,
and so we must
still have a poem.

James Penha edits The New Verse News.