Monthly Archives: September 2016

Poem for the Anniversary of 9/11

I walked ground zero on a sunny
late summer morning
on the tenth anniversary of 9/11

Wired men in plainclothes
with weapons dotted the streets
like fearful fungi. A navy gunboat
in the east river. Memorial bagpipers
practicing their military skirls in Battery Park

Memorials, relatives, long silences
This time the pipers are playing
an old Stephen Foster song
Hard Times Come Again No More
calling on Whitman’s grass
to finally begin its tuneful work

“…’tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
hard times, hard times come again no more.
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door,
Oh hard times, come again no more.”

Memorizing Gifts

James Stockdale, the longest held American prisoner of war in Vietnam,  said the love of poetry was an important quality for enduring the unendurable. “You thirst to remember, the clutter of all the trivia evaporates and with care you make deep excursions into past recollections. Verses were hoarded and gone over each day. The person who had memorized a lot of poetry was the bearer of great gifts.”