Tag Archives: September 11th

Why I can’t unsee what I’ve read about 9/11, by Andrea W. Doray

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Why I can’t unsee what I’ve read about 9/11

by

Andrea W. Doray

 

I haven’t watched the videos of the recent slayings of American journalists. I read the news accounts and the still photos were horrific enough for me, and I knew that I could never unsee it.

But in the theater of my mind, I did see it; in fact, I see it over and over. I see it because I’ve read accounts in the news about what happened, just as I did about the mass shootings in Aurora, CO, and Sandy Hook, CT, the innocent civilian casualties in armed conflicts around the world, and the transports and death camps of the Holocaust. I wasn’t a physical witness to any of these, and yet I can see, I can see, I can see these wicked events taking place.

Such is the power of words.

In September especially, but often throughout the year, my mind returns again and again to the images of the Twin Towers. Like most of us, I watched first in disbelief, then in growing horror, anger, and helplessness. Because of the immediacy, even 13 years ago, of real-time news reporting, I watched September 11, 2001, unfold as I was clustered around a television with dozens of coworkers. The planes, the fires, the collapsing buildings…all seared into our shocked and grieving collective consciousness.

I don’t remember if I watched this next part actually taking place, but I’ve seen the photographs of people leaping from the flaming buildings, caught by the still frames of a camera. And as much as these images haunt me, it’s what I have read that frequents my memory and deepens my sorrow on September 11.

I’m referring to a critically acclaimed poem by Brian Doyle, entitled “Leap.” Doyle’s opening line, “A couple leaped from the south tower, hand in hand,” sets the scene. If you search the Web for this topic, as I did for this column, you’ll find that some people think the images of a man and a woman holding hands as they fell are a hoax, claiming the pictures are photoshopped. But Doyle relies on eyewitness accounts from people who did the seeing – not just of this couple but also of others, very real people forced to make those harrowing desperate choices.

Doyle gives us descriptions from horrified spectators, descriptions made even more chilling in their spare language: “people ‘leaping as they flew out.’ ” And “ ‘falling over themselves’ … ‘too many people falling.’ ” Doyle also relates the events on the streets below, where pedestrians and a firefighter were killed “by people falling from the sky.”

Doyle ends the poem by speculating about the moments leading up to the hand-in-hand plunge. To paraphrase: did they know each other…friends, colleagues? Or were they strangers “thrown together at the window at the lip of hell,” strangers who “held on tight, and leaped….”

Through these unblinking words, I make more of a human connection with the victims than I ever could by watching videos or viewing photos. And it’s because I have read “Leap” that I can’t unsee their desperation, the agony in their final acts. But perhaps that’s what needs to happen, so that these victims, too, will never be forgotten, to keep this tragedy in the theaters of our minds.

Such is the power of words.

 

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About Andrea W. Doray

Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board Member

Andrea W. Doray is a member of the Writing for Peace board of directors, and a writer who, not surprisingly, sees things in words. You can find “Leap” at PBS.org, and can hear Brian Doyle read his work on YouTube. Contact Andrea at a.doray@andreadoray.com if you would like the links.

A version of this article appeared in Colorado Community Media newspapers and is reprinted here with permission.

 

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The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most worrisome so far. Paired with data from the 2014 National Climate Assessment, there is no question that the climate crisis is here and is accelerating at a faster pace than predicted. Its effects are widespread and dangerous, yet real solutions are being suppressed.

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The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most worrisome so far. Paired with data from the 2014 National Climate Assessment, there is no question that the climate crisis is here and is accelerating at a faster pace than predicted. Its effects are widespread and dangerous, yet real solutions are being suppressed. – See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/climate-alarm-ringing-%E2%80%93-and-until-now-united-nations-has-failed-act#sthash.GrDFZqEW.dpuf

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Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100, by Martín Espada

By Martín Espada

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
            for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees
            Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant,
            who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
Alabanza.
Praise the cook’s yellow Pirates cap
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
Alabanza.Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,
like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.
Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen
could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:
Ecuador, México, República Dominicana,
Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen in the morning,
where the gas burned blue on every stove
and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers,
hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs
or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.
Alabanza. Praise the busboy’s music, the chime-chime
of his dishes and silverware in the tub.
 
Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher
who worked that morning because another dishwasher
could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime
to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family
floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.
Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza.

After the thunder wilder than thunder,
after the shudder deep in the glass of the great windows,
after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs,
after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen,
for a time the stoves glowed in darkness like the lighthouse in Fajardo,
like a cook’s soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us
about the bristles of God’s beard because God has no face,
soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations
across the night sky of this city and cities to come.
Alabanza I say, even if God has no face.

Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan and Kabul
two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other,
mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:
Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
And the other said with a Spanish tongue:
I will teach you. Music is all we have.

“Alabanza” was first published in *The Nation Books* anthology, Poets Against the War. “Alabanza” was contributed by Martín Espada in honor of the tenth anniversary of Poets Against the War and the movement’s founder, Sam Hamill, and is reprinted today in memory of the many tragedies of 9/11.

About Martín Espada

Martin Espada, Writing for Peace Daily PAW Post Guest PoetCalled “the Latino poet of his generation,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published more than fifteen books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest collection of poems, The Trouble Ball (Norton, 2011), is the recipient of the Milt Kessler Award, a Massachusetts Book Award and an International Latino Book Award. The Republic of Poetry, a collection published by Norton in 2006, received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A previous book of poems, Imagine the Angels of Bread (Norton, 1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other books of poems include A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (Norton, 2000), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (Norton, 1993), and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (Curbstone, 1990).  He has received such recognition as the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.  His work has been widely translated; collections of poems have been published in Spain, Puerto Rico and Chile. His book of essays, Zapata’s Disciple (South End Press, 1998), has been banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona. A graduate of Northeastern University Law School and a former tenant lawyer, Espada is currently a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Learn more about Martín Espada’s work here.

 

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