Monday, September 11, 2006

Too shy to quack (on 9/11)

I have written two poems about 9/11, or specifically about the twin towers attack. The first one, twin views, I wrote a couple of days after the attack, when the recurring images of the smoldering skyscrapers were ubiquitous. I composed the second, Unleash the Peace, to memorialize my thoughts and feelings after my visit of the World Trade Center, a month after.

Twin views was a parabolic put-on for twin towers, the original title. Who would want to publish something during those trying times that could be seen as rather uncaring and insensitive to the many innocent victims of the Pearl Harbor in New York?

Hence, in the so-called freest country in the world, I had to express myself in ciphers*. But it was very honest, notwithstanding that a couple of people that I know were seriously hurt, and one, a dear brother of a family friend, perished in the attack.

I have always viewed the twin towers as the representation of manic capitalism, which in the overall scheme of things guarantees “so many losers and so few winners.” For example, resources devoted by pharmaceutical companies to “designed drugs” ignore the yearly fatalities in millions from preventable diseases like TB and malaria if only access to existing medicines is not driven purely by the profit motive. The unavailability of a bankruptcy mechanism for sovereign debtors also kills - by the millions annually. Where are the images of the untold sufferings of real people in other unfortunate parts of the world? Who mourn their deaths, their daily 9/11?

twin views [of twin towers]

boxed to
last Sired
in infamy
and glory
now torn
from awe


ing no
clue, man
kind clambers
one side, the rest
simply rollicking down.

Unleash the Peace, initially Totem Poles, was first published here to make it look as if it were a message for peace on earth last Christmas. I actually started writing it on a subway train after my visit to the World Trade Center, about five years ago.

During the visit, I was taken aback by the hapless and helpless Americans cordoned off from the debris and the ashes of the World Trade Center, evoking the images of the indigenous people in the New World grieving at a distant over the wasteland that had been their home and the destruction of their way of life following a successful charge by the white man’s cavalry. Perhaps, a twisted, callous metaphor, yet “too close for comfort.”

Twenty-three years ago, I was first awed by the splendor of Manhattan by night from across the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey. And the twin towers stood out like a beaconing lantern in the skyline as a testimony of America’s singular success story, I thought. But then, the promise of heaven on earth (and that all are created equal) remains honored in the breach, not even as regards the many who perished on 9/11 while eking out a living in America’s totem of vainglory as overworked and underpaid workers yet “too shy to quack.” Was I?

Unleash the Peace

It’s gone!

The wild dancing with wolves,
The wise in commune with winds:
A “way of life” by-past.

The promise: heaven on earth, and sovereigned;
Where on Main St., a feather on one’s head unlooked.

Heavens hijacked! Heavens disfigured!
And the arrows landed where we truly care.

The shattered lantern too faint to hearten,
The lost ducklings too shy to quack,
The metaphor too close for comfort.

Shush . . .
The cadenced drumbeats drowned the chants of the crowd,
The best oils anointed the folly of the wise.

The eagle soared!
The nation’s impulse (power and self-same promises) in tow.
Halleluiah! Halleluiah!

Evil, all evil is fair prey!
You, too, “if you are not with us.”

Yet, one braved soul - and all it takes is one -
Implored the Manifest
(As others mourned the Spirits,
Still acrid, still uncarved, still anonymous):
Unwind the soul!
Unblurry the fury!
Unwire the fire!
Unleash the peace! Yet, yet “. . . everything will be ok,
tomorrow my tears will taste good,”
(What are we in Hollywood and Madison for?)
So, soothsaid for passersby

Like graffiti on charred bigheads
Of once proud totem poles.

* (The image of the first tower in the poem is supposed to look like a box as it does on MSWord; the other tower is just as perfect on html).