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Eye Witness Account ∼ “Remembering 9/11” by Sam Friedman

Sam Friedman


Eye Witness Account ∼ Recorded Interview


(Text of Poems Read in Interview)


10:10 a.m., September 11, 2001

As my workplace burns,
destroyed by a plane
whose motivations I do not know,
nor reasons why,
I ride home on a cowards’ train
not knowing
which friends
are burning inside.
I ride listening
to rumors and fear,
watching tense faces,
eyes of hysteria,
I do not hear, nor dare to utter,
the simple truth–
of chickens coming
home to roost.


Becoming an “Other”

As I walked home down the street of sun,
facing an unknown number of weeks
with no place to work,
no where to which to travel
every morn,
I felt myself an “Other,”
other than those with workplaces,
other than myself
two hours
As I heard radios preaching hate,
callers-in calling for extermination
of Arabs and Afghanistan,
saw the nation’s leaders
preaching jihad,
bombers leaving for war,
I was othered again,
I and my workplaceless workmates
but one when together,
one knowing in our unburned flesh
that burning more buildings
and rupturing more bodies
are “Never-Agains,”
not answers,
not fit replies
to massacre-by-airplane,
Never Agains
as our nation’s leaders
Othered America
by actions of war.


As you marvel at the Twin Towers of World Trade,
thrusting upwards like penises or blunt instruments,
remember the smashed thumbs, broken backs,
electrocuted lives,
short-changed paychecks
of those who erected it;
as you stare at your computer screen
enthralled like a cat at a window
looking out or looking inwards,
remember the women whose eyes no longer focus,
whose hands writhe in agony as they enter your data,
whose lungs breathed poison cooking chips;
as you despair at your loneliness,
at the emptiness that elbows out life
and the lack of meaning even in the elbowing,
remember the joy of solidarity,
the creativity of shutting it all down,
and salivate a Nile
with your lust for revolution.


Little things

It is the little things I miss,
the familiar things
of my workplace world,
things now vanished
beneath fallen rubble.
Like the escalators in Path Square.
Some mornings my eyes raced to finish a chapter
as those six belted stairways
trundled hundreds upwards;
on some, I walked up their risers
to speed myself to work;
on others, I walked the stairs beside them, thighs straining
to scale those last fifteen feet.
Like the sushi downstairs,
where I savored horseradish rush,
the texture of sliding salmon
while reading e-mails on AIDS or Marxism,
talked workplace woes with co-workers, watched,
from the restaurant balcony,
chefs slicing sushi and veggies below,
looked down from a balcony
now crushed by the offices looming above.
Or like the view from Room 105
on our 16th floor,
gazing down at West Broadway
as the sun scintillated off New York’s windows
or the clouds reflected off their myriad panes,
perhaps fluffy and glib,
perhaps gloomy with doom
above the fountain below,
that fountain which once squirted its smooth surface
across a magic circle
as luncheon singers boomed rock,
a fountain now ashen in ruin,
its carvings one
with the walls of Pompeii.


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
History of Syndic
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