Archive for the ‘9/11’ Tag

Multiversic takes on 9/11

Despite its being the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks Sunday, I had decided to, here, pass over the event in silence. Then, The Griffin Trust website posted Fanny Howe’s “9/11”.

I was struck—as I often am—by the commentary accompanying the poem:

Is it virtually impossible to write about certain events that are too immense, too devastating, too charged on so many levels? To go into the specifics, one risks being maudlin, self-absorbed, short-sighted, too emotional. To try to broaden the discussion and perhaps recklessly try to scale something to the universal, one risks being too political, polarizing or simply missing the mark.

Howe’s poem, of course, avoids being too “self-absorbed” and “too political”—by “suggesting the heart of the event’s impact, is how it affects who and what we love.” I wonder what the commentator thinks of Shelley’s The Mask of Anarchy or Charles Reznikoff’s Testimony or Holocaust.

By way of contrast and to broaden and concretize the discussion, let me offer these two poetic texts that both fail to escape the commentator’s extremes: “The Tao of 9/11”  by Peter Dale Scott (that both goes “into specifics” and is “too political”) and one of my own, excerpted from a longer work, that, too, is “too specific,” composed, as it was, in real time.

Writing a poetry including history is no easy matter, and the question how far the “heart of the matter” escapes history’s particulars and the machinations of power no less demanding.


“The Tao of 9/11”

“The Tao of 9/11”

I’ve noticed a few folks posting 9/11 poems, which prompts me to post this one by Peter Dale Scott, that dares to come to grips with the dark roots of the matter.

9/11 in poeticompositional real time

Between 16 August 2001 and  1 February 2002, I was composing a sequence, one of whose constraints required I write every day, which I managed, more or less. Curiously, the events of 9/11 left no immediate impact, rather hearing of, I think, Billy Collins’ refusal to write of the event almost a week later spurred several days of response. What follows then is five consecutive parts of what was published as “Sewn Knot” in dANDelion, Number 28, Volume 2, 2002. The original version exploits different typefaces and point sizes to create a polyphony (here lost due to WordPress’ limitations…). Given that my new book March End Prill due out  next month was composed under the same constraint, except then coincident with the invasion of Iraq, it seems not apropos to reissue, however provisionally, these stanzas.

from Sewn Knot


Big Huff—Terrorism and the Western mind stops. wozu Dichter. It is 10:19 in Montreal a Sunday. Five six days after Tuée’s Day. “Will you ever write a poem about what happened…?” “No,” quickly and emphatically. Who has been stuck a tin wreath upon? die miserably every day for lack. A bard of each side watched the battle on high ground and after agreed on a version; the Ollave rich in rhythms and myth embroidered a coat for the moment; the Wit quips “Allah’s snuff.”; the Scop might scoop up the bard harping on Beowulf’s Slaying of Grendel (ISBN 0 14 04.4268 5) / a fellow of the kings whose head was a storehouse of the storied verse whose tongue gave gold to the language of the treasured repertory wrought a new lay made in the measure the man struck up found the phrase framed rightly the deed…drove the tale rang word changes / ; Petöfi and Radnóti scribbled. —Scribes scramble laptop clay dusty clumps; reeds good kindling; one library crumbles another burns or more slowly falls in dust; what towers over the words that raised them? & that a breath as easily stopped?


Foul meat eye coffer rage. Crock the wit. Deferent citation / winces / winds a trump bone. Sick utter coroners what dare lips. Better scrawls wall owed. Raw urge it hated revel elations. Jawin’ on pat most in axe aisle. Fore gut litter chewer. Letter cheer eye cop’s latter. Ich or us or th’us spay ache swimmer saw raw twos straw. Die imbecile! ‘domicile’ ‘haunt’’s synonym. Cryptic Coptic Gnostic a craw’s tick crossed stick a crow’s trick wing glick flick kwa! kwa!  Who facade in it. A/n assured / cheap chirp. Sublimated dinosaur sotto voce. Vollied simian takes to air like a fish to strand. Heart o’ gold hard off hear to go. Hour dust any in spays. In the bug grinning wash “WORD”. —“Ten year old schoolchildren in Hanover pressed posters against their classroom windows Now bin Laden will show you what he can do!” The nation that invented chess & zero has since the seventh century plotted the West’s end infiltrated a porous open society with assassin generations just waiting for the word when only one colour will be left on the board. Frank Rogue in cuffs calls out “I stand for America all the way!” who gunned down a turbaned bearded Sikh gas station attendant & took a shot at an employee of Ali Saad & Saad Saad & an Afghan-American home. A Moroccan gas station clerk’s attacked; someone guns a car at a Pakistani woman; mosques torched from Seattle to Montreal, a Hindu temple burned down in Hamilton.—Stale some tang missung. Philosopher Consort silent in Governor General’s shadow; our rich charred roar tea of the ’’gnored / too / quiet.


Strip mine. Striped mind. Loching through rods and koans. Trenchant thought’s trough. Pry sun break. no way to make a work of Art! Litter chewer swine. / high bred / Peary plum hype rid. Dreams rise like swells salted of earth. Numberless schools shoal never to surface, e.g., Billy /(/Collins or Jori/)/ Graham. Bored by the dilemma. Mycenaean vault over a cretin maze. Fin, sail, or wing. He stomped right over the hoods of cars stopped in the crosswalk. Riding clear of / illusive / mythification. Dawnward orange sun…sparrowsuite…traffic aleatoricsoundtrack / backgroundnoise /…ceilingpipe / upstair/tap ablutions…ubiquitous towerfan…nagahyde officechair squeak…jetroar…warming brick crack and wood creak…carhonk…explosive sneeze & apologetic sigh: awl a tread of scents. Timbre sap: xylobones flowin’; wet reed leaps / ; stickdivotted skins in a crashing jungle of simples (no cur—nay, cheer—throbs the temples); elephant and treefrog trumpet / : stiff breeze of applause. Classic cull cored tête; twin fugues can veer risabley. Percussion composition for precipitation and random venue. Heaving it out with the line in five-ten time / foot in mound / (i.e., the berth chord) / : ounce more into the breach! Empyreal tailor’s Adamic Fall line. Virtual atomae variable as elements. Pillow soporific all. Two the tangs dissolved! Hysterically roughly half of us carry fishegg seawater —[…]—Bending corners.—Dog-eared year. Serious sorry series.


Hypnopomp jabs fork up into tongue out.—Eye dull rhumour dozeled bi anoughter manic keen bindery: Eider yore wit us or agin‘em! Bale a cause spear rite jabs carries over and tosses another squirming body into Searcull of Blood ‘mid the vie yell lent. Mythed ague in….bearing cog ant raisins, a skuller is never sans loot: caught between warring camps, one week no food,  Kung played on his k’in the Odesentences bleed into each other, commas stage a comeback, the language in question dialects syntax? Nor more plurality of worlds on ‘errd.—core poor rate muddle ya one or ship mayas the boughty pullatick’s had; pub lick real late shuns avail gene yes….fied huntered chainnull causemost….


Disfrig meants shore up hour runes. Elude sieve mess memory’s mummeries. Leapin’ lacunae! The boredinerry rudder re-sent fool aversion of un’s self. Bach’s Magnificat D Major BWV 243 & BWV 1083 Autumn air cools sunlit room an occasional sparrow checks the emptied birdfeeder. Canned worms best left unopened after or before best before date. Fingers’ capers. You think I care about your lousy hermeneutic when the language is speaking to me?!–… “You must lie 53 years with the Bone Maiden.” She lies on blackredbrown mud against a stonebrick wall as dark, looking seven feet tall, heavy bone, shreds of flesh like on some hamshank after hungry dinner—What ? I can’t mourn Peace? Pax packs a punch? I’m running out of cheeks to turn.—What is the heaviest thing, you heroes? so asks the weight-bearing spirit, Is it not this: to desert our cause when it is celebrating its victory?—All answers will be questioned….