Sunday, September 11, 2011
The only poem I wrote about 9/11
Martin of Tours, as the Burning Towers Fall
When I turn again, witnessing the horror,
When I turn again, sharing the grief,
When I turn again, bearing the suffering,
When I turn again, my thorny crown blooming roses,
I turn away from retribution.
Demonic Powers! I embrace you until death!
Draw closer to me now, taste my love.
The only poem I wrote about 9/11. It's difficult for me to recapture the emotional state that produced it. But I was strongly resisting letting media or politicians define the meaning of 9/11 for me. Something evil had happened. Evil is not destroyed by shooting at it, by imprisoning it, by executing it. It is as at best only constrained. In that sense, evil's power is equal to love. But evil is destroyed by love. This is a profoundly disturbing truth, because who believes he or she has love strong enough to conquer evil? No, our human inclination is to pick up a weapon & try to slay it. To do that we have to make someone or something the embodiment of evil, & ourselves warriors for good.
I'm not naive. I understand what it takes to protect & preserve one's self, one's family, one's country. One may ask for God's blessings in battle. But when Martin of Tours took his first steps toward sainthood (makes no difference to me if these stories are legends or facts), he made himself unfit to be an officer in the Roman army.
This poem is consistent with what I've always expressed in my poetry. But the voice here is one I hadn't used before & haven't since. It was published at the now-defunct website Poets Against the War (mainly Iraq). I was never comfortable placing it in that context. I had to use the Wayback Machine to recover it.