One Year Later

Poems

A year after 9/11, we still inhale the dust of our dead–
    still read NY Times portraits of a Springsteen fan,
        a lasagna home cooking specialist, a woman
who would do anything for family & friends–
    we still mourn our losses one by one,
        as it should be, here & everywhere.
Yet expressing low-level radioactive concern for innocent deaths
    outside America has brought atomic rebuke
        in cosmopolitan circles larger than expected:
When those towering guardians of our skyline psyches collapsed
    and 3,000 innocent and experienced souls were crushed,
        I dove deep into the blue mourning pool
with empathetic swimmers all across America,
    still trying to keep a backstroke going, balanced
        between a weightless hope & a sprint of despair.
But no matter what they say on those 24/7 right-wing talk shows,
    I just don’t think we honor our dead
        by inventing new generations of mini-nukes
& thermobaric bombs to suck the air from caves, launching
    a prime-number series of pre-emptive wars
        beginning with Iraq,
designing carnavoric computer programs to chew up private letters,
    or registering a million roving urban snitches to spy
        on neighbors from Orwellian TV repair trucks.
Is it blasphemous now to advocate new foreign policies
    condemning bloodsoaked terror across the board
        curing the plague of weapons sales across the globe
ending Cold War-born hypocrisies that describe “our” terrorists
    as freedom fighters, “our” deathsquad dictatorships
        as fledgling democracies?
We who call for more democratic & humane foreign policies
    to make America more loved and just
        are not blaming this beautiful land & people
for a mass murder unjustifiable, just including America in
    with the rest of the species, full of generous medicinal spirits
        and countless historic noble acts,
as well as cancerous murders almost too painful to recall.
    Isn’t extending the generous and the noble
        still one acceptable way to honor our dead?