I began writing Images of New York six days after 911 as I sat on a park bench three blocks from Ground Zero. It was the most difficult piece I ever wrote. It first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2001 and since then has appeared on numerous websites. S. Goldberg (2001) San Francisco Chronicle, October.
The 6 Train stops at Lexington to refrains of Ava Maria
and pristine pictures of the missing reappear
on graffetied walls always smiling, sometimes with friends,
but mostly with children.
While empty gray buildings stand beneath a blue sky,
and earth-generated clouds drift up and vanish as smells of devastation and death combine, easily passing through
clean white masks offered by tired police.
People push to photograph images too horrible to forget
of twisted steel skeletons guarding lifeless spaces that
held dreams of people whose families wait but already know,
While a Sousa march blares from speakers,
for the benefit of people too numb to listen,
too grieved to care, and pamphleteers thrust salvation and doom into hands willing to accept anything.
And reporters tape the perfect interview
while thousands of cell phones describe images
that have no words
to people who listen but cannot understand,
and the Met quietly closes the Islamic art exhibit.
Babies play in a world newer than they,
while pigeons take crumbs from trembling fingers,
and bruised New Yorkers pull out damp cloths
from Gucci suits and stained overalls
As patriotic songs are played on a steel drum
to those waiting for half-priced tickets to empty shows,
while a drifting smell stops conversations in mid-word
until it moves on, and repeats at each new block.
Candles glow in front of fire stations
in which flags are readied to wrap comrades,
while another new world night begins,
and glasses clink to missing friends
in quiet restaurants to the sobs of all who hear.
And memories more surreal than a Dali painting
reluctantly slip behind mesh walls,
recalled again and again by innocent sounds,
while the world wonders which road is taken
by people whose outrage will define the century.
copyright 2001 Stan Goldberg, stangoldbergwriter.com
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