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Syndic Literary Journal

“1 & 2” ∼ Page 6 ∼ by J.H. Johns & Paul Churchill Mann

Photo by Dariusz Pacak

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

I find myself
not knowing what to say
or how to sum up
the result of that day;
and so at last,
amidst the disarray,
I’ll beg to ask,
for help along the way;
I will tell you,
we must without delay,
forsake the task
and turn it over to Roget.
Ground: earth, terra firma, soil; foundation, basis, cause,
reason; viewpoint. –v. base, establish; settle, fix;
instruct. –adj. pulverize, grated; whittled,
sharpened, abraded.
Zero: nothing, naught; nought; cipher, none; (in games)
love, blank; nobody, not a soul.

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

I don’t know why
I wanted to see it-
or if it was even that-
maybe I wanted to be there,
go to look to find there,
that they were really gone;
but, on the next sunny Saturday,
I took the train
from Queens into the City;
it all seemed normal
until we got to the tunnel
through which we roared-
faster than ever before-
into Penn Station;
God help us
if anything or anyone
were around the curve-
there’d be no way to stop-
we’d all be dead.
The terminal was different;
there were police
and military
and police
and military,
and- oh, yeah-
some people like me.
Were we safe,
or were we in danger;
are they safe
or are they a danger-
we asked ourselves;
I made my way
to the street
still saying to myself,
I don’t know why.

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

They began
in the Penn Station concourse;
black and whites,
color copies;
with names
and contacts
and the word
sometimes by an employer,
sometimes by a tower,
sometimes a floor-
of all sizes
put in every
and all places;
on walls in the station-
but outside
there was room to fasten them to
more walls,
all covered with pictures of the missing;
of people
that other people
were hoping to find…

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

Up top
I walked
Thirty-Third to Broadway
and then south;
pictures, some of people and the police-
in that order;
looking down Broadway,
seeing the smoke, the cloud
rising and then hanging
in the distance;
my goal, my guide
as the numbered streets fell away;
pictures, more people and more police-
no more numbers-
now names,
Houston, Spring, Broome, Grand-
constant with police cars,
fire-trucks and paramedics
enveloped in their siren calls to each other;
more pictures and more people;
finally, Canal Street
where people overflowed the sidewalks
and the streets were blocked
by police and troopers and the military.
Canal to West;
I found people-
six deep-
lined the length of the corner
and cheered the rescue workers;
Canal to St. James
and down
where I began
to catch the smell-
and a foul one at that-
of whatever and everything
that was burning;
more foul by the block,
I needed my mask as I passed them,
the posted eyes
of even more missing people
starring at me…


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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