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5 Poems ∼ “Remembering 9/11” by Bob Cooperman

Bob Cooperman


“When the First Plane Hit”

When the first plane hit,
Diane felt the impact
in her building.
“Stay calm and stay put,”
office security blared
over the intercom.
“Safer inside!”
An hour later,
Diane’s building trembled
ever so slightly,
then in wider metronomes,
her floor a buffalo stampede.
The subway blocked
by a cop shouting service
had shut down, as if invaded
by monster-movie radioactive rats.
On the numb trudge home,
she turned once, the second tower
wobbling like a badly balanced
Lego tower, cascading
like a bullwhip:
bodies falling,
tiny from that distance,
Diane unable to turn away.


“That Terrible Morning”

I can’t stop seeing the women and men
who jumped to their deaths, rather than burn
in the towers capsizing like The Titanic.
A couple held hands: maybe lovers or colleagues
or they just needed human contact
to take that step off the cliff of oblivion.
Then there was the man who went alone,
his tie flying up to his face as he plummeted
lonely as the ghost he was about to become.
And the woman, who might’ve dreamt
that morning of a raise and promotion,or that Mr. Right was waiting for her,
on a subway platform or in a coffee shop.
They haunt me like the seamstresses
caught in the 1915 Triangle Factory Fire:
a blazing rat-trap-sweatshop, the doors barred:
to keep workers from stealing cloth scraps:
the only way out, the 9th floor window:
women helped onto the ledge, as if handed
into cabs for a night on the town or a romantic
carriage ride through Central Park: the perfect
spot to pop the question that would,
like those who jumped from the Tower,
have to wait forever for true love on bended knee.


“A Man Jumping from the Towers: September 11th, 2001”

How can it end like this,
that plane smashing into the tower?
What lunatics do that? And to me!
Smoke, flames, melting steel,
shattered glass, like King Kong
and Godzilla going tag team for real.
I could call Kerrie one last time,
tell her I love her, or that, more likely,
she won’t need the divorce she demanded
when she found out about Laurel.
My policy will leave her comfortable.
The building’s swaying like a drunk;
don’t think, just do it, bend my knees
like on a diving board, and leap;
all over before I know what’s happening.
And maybe I’ll survive, firemen with nets
like for the high wire act in the circus.
Who am I kidding? Just get it over with.
Like your life was so wonderful?
Like you weren’t a rat to your wife, your lover,
to your clients? Freakin’ cosmic payback.
Wind’s howling, screaming, shrieking,
begging for mercy, or is that me?


“Voting in the New York City Mayoral Primary, September 11, 2001”

If the lines hadn’t been out the door
of their Brooklyn polling station,
if voters hadn’t been slow as coddled
shoppers deciding what looked good
at the deli counter, if one of the machines
hadn’t died like a Model T out of gas,
my aunt and uncle would’ve been
at their office across the street
from the World Trade Center
when the first plane struck, debris
smashing their building, starting
an electrical fire to stampede workers
into the street: where they’d have been
smashed by steel, concrete, and glass.
But the news was a rat-swarm
before they strolled to the express
bus stop, a cop holding up his hand,
“Fuhgeddabout Manhattan!”
Instead, they sat in their kitchen,
listened to the radio, shook their heads,
cried a little, and drank cup after cup
of tea—Londoners cringing from the Blitz.


“September 11, 2001”

I refuse to call that day 9/11.
It’s September 11th.
Give the victims and heroes
the respect they deserve,
though they’re past caring.
We still care, or why
would we stop everything
on each anniversary
of that mockingly blue morning,
at the exact moment
the first plane hit?
Why do we stand in silence,
and if we’re unlucky, weep
for the soul of someone
we knew and loved,
even if we don’t believe in souls,
or god, or heaven, or the hell
I wish would swallow the murderers.
Say it with me,
“September 11th, 2001,”
a day to be spelled out,
not elided into numbers
and slashes for the sake of brevity,
the sake of sounding too ironic
to be bothered all that much
by what happened on
September 11th, 2001.


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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