Welcome to where I am, where my kitchen's always messy, a pot's (or a poet) always about to boil over, a dog is always begging to be fed. Drafts of poems on the counter. Windows filled with leaves. Wind. Clouds moving over the mountains. If you like poetry, books, and music--especially dog howls when a siren unwinds down the hill-- you'll like it here.


MY NEW AUTHOR'S SITE, KATHRYNSTRIPLINGBYER.COM, THAT I MYSELF SET UP THROUGH WEEBLY.COM, IS NOW UP. I HAD FUN CREATING THIS SITE AND WOULD RECOMMEND WEEBLY.COM TO ANYONE INTERESTED IN SETTING UP A WEBSITE. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT MY NEW SITE TO KEEP UP WITH EVENTS RELATED TO MY NEW BOOK.


MY NC POET LAUREATE BLOG, MY LAUREATE'S LASSO, WILL REMAIN UP AS AN ARCHIVE OF NC POETS, GRADES K-INFINITY! I INVITE YOU TO VISIT WHEN YOU FEEL THE NEED TO READ SOME GOOD POEMS.

VISIT MY NEW BLOG, MOUNTAIN WOMAN, WHERE YOU WILL FIND UPDATES ON WHAT'S HAPPENING IN MY KITCHEN, IN THE ENVIRONMENT, IN MY IMAGINATION, IN MY GARDEN, AND AMONG MY MOUNTAIN WOMEN FRIENDS.




Saturday, September 11, 2010

WAKE: poems after 9/11

(UA Flight 175 crashing into the Twin Towers)


Here are a few poems from my chapbook Wake, published by Spring Street Editions in 2002. It's available online, signed by the author, from City Lights books at www.citylightsnc.com.


Safe



I knew no one who perished.

For that I am grateful.

My nephew had moved from the city a year ago.

My friends lived or worked blocks away from Ground Zero.

One watched from her office the small bodies leaping.

Another stepped onto the street as the second plane circled.

Out of the subway another climbed into a sky of glass falling.

The scrolls of their e-mails continued for days.


Again and again I try not to imagine myself onto either plane,

the continent stretching before me,

out there on the edge of it, sun just beginning to rise.

Seat belts off.

Scent of fresh coffee, the rattle of carts...


Here nothing flies into my windows but birds.

They have lain in my daughter’s palms,

pressed to her chest for the warmth of her beating heart,

until their broken-necked bodies grew cold,

and she looked up at me, as if asking, What now?

And I answered, Now go wash your hands.





Ruth and Juliana McCourt were passengers on Flight 175.



Critique


for Susan Lefler

and the memory of Ruth and Juliana McCourt


1.


Your image of angels attending the ruins

fails to move me.


I try to imagine their presence,

but over and over the plane burrows


into the tower of steel and glass,

bodies of flesh and blood,


the newsreel eternally rolling,

the morning indelibly sunny and crisp.


2.


So much God talk these days

I am almost afraid to ask, Where

was He? Too busy pouring the wine


for a new round of martyrs? Inspecting the sheen

on his solid gold cobblestones? Meanwhile

the plane gleamed in His holy firmament,


held, like the sparrows of old, in the palm of His hand,

in its cockpit, the young men who prayed

to be gathered up into the silk tents of Paradise.




3.


What more to say?

That tonight I am wary of angels

unfurling their wings like the flags I see brandished

from buildings and vehicles,

pasted like band-aids on freshly washed chrome.


That I ask of a poem only this:

Give me dust unto dust.

Let the pulse of it be nothing less than

their requiem, even as they enter into

the sky shining off those sheer towers.


4.



Held tight

in her mother’s arms,

she hears it,

blood beat

she once slept beneath

before ever

her mother had

whispered her name.


Juliana,



5.


the jig


of it still


on my tongue.





8 comments:

Vicki Lane said...

That's what poets do -- say the unsayable. Thank you, K. These are perfect.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

And thank you, Vicki, for visiting my blog even though I've been such a slouch lately in posting.

daphne said...

I am pleased to read these again, Kay.

Charlotte said...

Kay. . ."now go wash your hands" turns something over in me. I'm startled anew by both poems. Thank you.

Julia Nunnally Duncan said...

Section 4 in Critique leaves me breathless. And that photograph....

Lyn said...

So touched..again..I remember the dust ceaselessly falling for three weeks..brushing it aside constantly..knowing what it was made up of..

Jessie Carty said...

that last poem is just amazing. the poet's ability to be so fearless and to just SAY it just about brought me to tears! And that definitely doesn't happen often for me. Thanks for sharing these.

willow said...

Startling and poignant. Thank you, Kay.