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3 Poems ∼ “Remembering 9/11” by Gordon A. Gilbert, Jr.

Gordon A. Gilbert, Jr.


“9/11 Remembrance ∼ Chalkboard ∼  Signed”


9/11 Remembrance

Court Street, Brooklyn

a few hours after the towers fell

a handsome young man

impeccably dressed

right arm hanging down

gripping a leather briefcase

wordlessly he passed us by

eyes glazed

a vacant stare

looking neither right nor left

no doubt heading home



business suit



dusted a chalky white


               Gordon Gilbert

                      September 15, 2010




And when the towers fell, were you among
those overtaken by the clouds of dust,
of fiberglass, asbestos, shattered glass,
office memoranda, family photos,
concrete (pulverized) and even ash
of human bone? Please tell me, was that you,
choking, stumbling, with your eyes half-closed
from tears that ran in streaks down ashy cheeks,
unable to wash out the gritty dust
that stung your eyes, invaded all your being,
and made you gasp with every breath? You know
you are among the blessed, for you have taken
through every pore, and deep within your lungs,
and coursing through your veins and all your tissues,
the holy sacrament of innocence
incinerated, crushed, obliterated,
but now a part of you, the lost three thousand.


I was in Brooklyn when the towers fell,
but witness only to the first to fall.
One moment black smoke suddenly turned gray
and with a shower of glittering glass confetti,
crumbling, collapsing, it was gone!
Then rising up, the white cloud of debris,
pushed by a strong west wind across the water,
obscured from sight what was to happen next.
You could not see as far as the East River,
let alone the skyline of Manhattan.
While waiting for the smoke and dust to clear,
I called my brother who lives overseas
to say I am all right, and then to ask
what they are saying there in Italy
about all this, and that was when I heard
him say the second tower fell as well.
And I said no, I’m sure you are mistaken!
There’s so much smoke and dust, it’s hard to tell.
It was not damaged quite so badly. No,
I think that I can still see that it’s standing
Through the clouds of dust and smoke, you’re wrong!
I’m looking at it “live”, he said, it’s gone.


I was in Brooklyn when the towers fell,
but earlier that morning, slow to rise
(I let myself sleep late, it was my birthday),
I lingered over a second cup of coffee,
my radio tuned to “Imus in the Morning”.
Later, while I voted in the Village,
the first plane must have been just turning south,
and while I rode the subway bound for Brooklyn,
it must have been approaching from the north,
its passengers and crew seeing Manhattan,
perhaps at the last minute, understanding,
then extinguished in one horrifying moment,
while below, I transferred to the Brooklyn train
at Chambers Street, not very far away,
but at that time completely unaware.
About the time that I arrived in Brooklyn,
perhaps while I was walking from the station,
observing how the sky was free of clouds,
a cool and pleasant morning in September,
in the building high above me
where I some days worked, consulting,
on the side that faced the river,
looking westward toward Manhattan,
my co-workers watched the tower burning.
Then they saw, not fully comprehending,
The second plane approaching from the south.
As if in some nightmare that offers no escape,
they watched in disbelief, some screamed in horror,
as if protesting NO! could some way change,
somehow undo, prevent what they were seeing.
Just as I reached the front doors of the building,
a friend came rushing out — Do not go up!
WE ARE UNDER ATTACK!, he said, Two planes
have hit the World Trade Center! It’s not safe
to be in a high place! And suddenly
behind him came a rush of others fleeing.

Outside, around me, dozens tried their cell phones,
useless now, because all lines were busy.
A terrorist attack, that much seemed certain.
Beyond that, no one knew what else was happening.
I saw no point in standing there, so I
suggested going to an Irish bar
not far away, O’Keefe’s; it would be open.
There we could stay to watch the television,
and slake this desperate thirst for information.
And so it was I saw the towers burning,
and replayed, the first of far too many times,
again and again I saw the second plane
first strike, then crash into, then smash straight through,
and then that terrible great burst of flame,
and victims falling, jumping, such a sight
as I hope I will never see again.
Then came the news about the Pentagon.
Soon after, there were pictures of the same,
and first word of another hijacked plane,
but at that time, its fate was undetermined.
Restless, and unable to remain,
I made my way back to my place of work,
convinced that there was no threat to that building.
And high above, I saw firsthand the smoke,
and while the towers burned, I thought of how
all those held hostage in the planes had died,
and also those unfortunates who were
where the planes struck, and those trapped in the flames,
and also for their families and friends,
I felt the deepest sadness for their loss,
but ‘til the very last I thought those towers
mutilated only, would still stand,
and never thought that one day I would be
bearing witness as I sit here writing
in another country far from home,
the saddest tale that I shall ever tell:
I was in Brooklyn when the towers fell.
Gordon Gilbert
10 October 2001




Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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