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Tuesday, September 12, 2017


by Carolyn Martin

Photo by Rob Sheridan: Ground Zero, New York City. October, 2001.
                        for New York City

October 1, 2001

Twenty days of barricades
and twos and threes pause
on Chambers Street—
business suits, backpacks, hoodies,
uniforms in every shape.
No one pontificates
over vacant desks and pews,
tear-wet beds, fire stations gone,
bone fragments searching for home.

Here, they’re awed.
Tower shadows fled.
The first time in thirty years
Village streets and living rooms,
store fronts with their sidewalk signs,
responders struggling with ash
bathe in sun. They bathe in the sun.

Here, light takes hold
and I, a stranger from 3,000 miles west,
grab a subway strap,
head to an uptown hotel
to write this down.

August 7, 2017

Here, breaking news:
DNA defines one more loss.
(Male. Unnamed. Per family request.)

Who’s left?

Eleven-hundred twelve gathered
in dusty dark, sharing thoughts
they thought as shadows dissolved.
Comparing notes on deals signed,
dinners served, dreams deferred
for the practicalities of work,
little words unsaid.

Here, holding on—each to each—until
they’re freed from this room
where they’ve agreed on the coarsest truth:
closure is a human myth.        

From English teacher to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and dry summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK, and her third poetry collection Thin Places was released by Kelsay Books in Summer 2017.