testament for one and two hands
for William Gillespie
It was a phone call, 8:45 AM
mom waking me
I thought I'd been disconnected
mom coming through nevertheless.
"Turn on the news."
It was the impact
the video run and re-run
planes missing, one
reputedly heading for Chicago
the crumbling and caving
the phone at last numb
in my house.
It was a call finally getting in at 3:00 PM
a reservation for the Laurie Anderson show
at the Park West
television still looping
and my friend
saying gently, clinically,
off the TV.
It was Anderson dedicating her performance
who died today"
hearing O Superman's
hearing a too-obvious come-back from the house
that won't mean the same no more."
realizing that even among
on such a day as this
whole chunks of America
still don't get it
and then walking home in the shadow
of skyscapers: our three dark centurions
in a cool, clear Midwestern night.
It was an alley silenced of gang whistles.
It was a vacant street and lights on past midnight.
It was like blunt trauma, almost over before it began.
It wasthe first man on the moon and being on the wrong end of V-J Day.
It was hearing no jets all that night
except for one distant invisible fighter
even though I lived under
and listened for hours
for anything else.
They made the urban skies silent.
Let's give 'em a hand.
It became a waiting game
not knowing if an e-mail sent
to a friend in TriBeCa would
from a wired cabin near Peekskil.
It became a free dinner out one night
at a classy Loop bistro
thanks to a therapist friend
doing overtime sessions
and needing precious counsel for herself.
It became a new word
coined by comrades in Hamburg:
friendly, cheerful, kind,
intelligent, charitable, selfless,
and willing to kill you"
typically applied to strangers
in one's midst.
It became musicas desaparecidas on the air.
It became condolences from friends and foes alike
who mourned with us
despite their departure from our cause.
It became, ironically, a realization
that we had no cause
which was why we may have been fit to be attacked.
It became an outlawing of irony
as sons of the wealthy houses of Bush and bin Laden
vowed their respective thin justices as vengeance
upon each other.
It became a further litany of sons
engineers, theologians, chemists
from even more wealthy houses
and a compulsory flag-waving belief
that their cause
fighting for the have-nots
was their whole point
and that we
loving the sinners, hating their sins
would buy this as the whole story.
It became irony that "holy" plus "war"
would equal "purification" in jihad.
It became a further irony defending our secularism
by following the President to a rally of our faiths.
It became too much bad poetry
by self-absorbed MCs and poetasters
for at least three months and
in many places
even to this day.
(You may be within earshot of it
It became a galling October question
by one poetry MC
posed to me directly
September 11th changed you?"
and my galling response
ever thought about the world
know why some people hate us in America.
get out of ourselves.
And we expect
to get into
and that one day they did
with American planes.
Let's give 'em a hand.
And after that poetry open mike
I whistled O Superman
on the brisk walk home.
- Kurt Heintz, 7-8 September 2002