N a p a l m H e a l t h S p a : R e p o r t 2 0 1 3 : S p e c i a l E d i t i o n
L o n g P o e m M a s t e r p i e c e s o f t h e P o s t b e a t s
Two months before the terrorist attack
a 16-year-old walked into a hospital
in New York City
handed the receptionist a note—
"Please donate my organs in case of death"
then blew his brains out in front of her.
Six hours later his removed eyes
were transplanted into empty eye-sockets
of a 60-year-old woman
blind since birth
who two months later
turns on morning TV to see
A week before the terrorist attack
a woman stopped her car
on a bridge in Seattle
during morning rush hour traffic,
got out, climbed over the railing,
stood on the ledge looking down.
Commuters caught in the traffic jam
fearing they'd be late for work
started yelling "Jump! Jump!"
even started making a banner
encouraging her to jump
till she finally did.
The terrorist at the controls
and his fellow terrorists
in the cockpit
had big grins as the jet
into the skyscraper
believing they were instantly transported
to an endless orgasm
in a paradise of beautiful girls
because their suicide terrorism
was a heroic martyrdom
that made God happy.
No one ever saw two
of the tallest buildings
on Planet Earth
burn and collapse
in less time than it took
the Titanic to sink.
Play the film of the Towers
being struck, burning, imploding
in slow-motion over and over.
Freeze-frame close-up of lovers
holding hands the moment they jumped.
Flashback to Walt Whitman 150 years ago
standing where the World Trade Center Towers
looking up at circling seagulls
looking down at him
skyscrapers so high
would be built
or jet planes exist
by deranged fanatics
into those skyscrapers
because they think
God wants them to….
How the jet appeared to be
swallowed by the Tower
entering it like a hangar
and a split second existed
just enough time
for office-workers sipping coffee
reading their newspapers
to drop through the demolished floor
and through the torn-off roof of the jet
to suddenly be side-by-side
with airplane passengers
gaping each other in horror
as the fireball engulfed them….
Flashback to victory parade
in downtown Manhattan
after Persian Gulf War—
snowstorms of confetti
wafting down on drunk celebrators
from triumphant skyscrapers above,
from soaring and mighty skyscrapers above.
How does it feel to be exploded into human flesh confetti?
How does it feel to be decapitated, dismembered, disemboweled?
Some were burned beyond recognition. Some were burned to ash.
Some were vaporized. Some were squashed or crushed
into shapes never forgotten
by those who discover
or even imagine them.
Makes me wish Immortality exists
for the victims and their loved ones,
even if it doesn't exist,
makes me wish it true for them.
Makes me wish there were a heaven
that could compensate for this hell.
One man said
he wouldn't be satisfied
till he saw children in Afghanistan
running down the street on fire screaming.
Another said he wouldn't feel right
till he could be in Afghanistan
and throw a grenade
into a schoolbus full of children.
If only the terrorists had been more into
tightrope-walking between the Towers
to the delight of cheering onlookers
to draw media attention to their cause
and debate it in pastoral settings
with fountains and jugs of wine.
If only the terrorists had gone to costume parties
dressed up as their favorite skyscrapers,
got drunk, lit each other's skyscraper on fire
and laughing jumped in the swimmingpool.
If only the terrorists had believed cutting snowflake designs
from folded paper during a blizzard
and unfolding them in front of each other
pleases God more than exploding body parts.
If only the terrorists had been more into
watching butterflies emerge from their chrysalises
or dragonflies emerge from their nymphs.
If only the terrorists had been more into pterodactyls,
believing the more life-size models of pterodactyls
the more we are in awe of Allah's handiwork.
If only the terrorists had spent their lives trying to prove
the world annihilates itself and reappears just as it was
a million times a second.
If only the terrorists had embraced as their mission
to evangelize to every nation and religion
there are enough advanced civilizations in the Universe
for a trillion different utopias
from a trillion different planets
from a trillion different galaxies
to pay Earth a visit every nanosecond.
If only the terrorists had been more into wandering
snowy midnight winter neighborhoods
looking for snow angels children made
to lie down in them and ask their blessing.
If only the terrorists had been more into deer
eating from their out-held hands.
Have the winds blown enough
that by now all of us have breathed
particles of the burned-up corpses?
Sooner or later all of us will inhale
invisible remains of the incinerated victims,
their atoms and molecules spinning in space
transported by breezes little-by-little
dispersing outward spreading outward
till all of us have inside us through breathing
the vanished corpses that will never be found
but that found us and became
buried within us....
Meanwhile a seagull circles and soars
where the skyscrapers once stood
looking down at the human ants below
wondering what happened
to the two huge monoliths
and the shadows
they cast on each other.
Meanwhile four miles from ground zero
in the Frick Gallery near Central Park
in a room next to the marble courtyard
with its pillar'd colonnade and arching skylight
with its fountain pool with two gold frogs at either end
spurting continuous long arcs of water—
St. Francis in Ecstasy by Giovanni Bellini,
painted the same year Columbus set sail
in search of a New World,
still shows St. Francis barefoot in his monk's robe
emerging from his hermit cave
leaving behind his desk with closed Bible and human skull
looking up with arms outstretched in awe
to fields and woods and mountains
as the sunrise engulfs the world
in the light of another day.
Giovanni Bellini’s St. Francis in Ecstasy
[Used by permission of the author.]
Antler is author of Factory (City Lights), Last Words (Ballantine), and Antler: The Selected Poems (Soft Skull). His work also appears in many anthologies, including Earth Prayers; Poets Against the War; City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology; Reclaiming the Heartland: Lesbian & Gay Voices from the Midwest; Erotic by Nature; First Person Sexual; Wild Song: Poems from Wilderness; Comeback Wolves: Welcoming the Wolf Home and In the Spirit of T’ao Ch’ien. Winner of the Walt Whitman Award from the Whitman Association in Camden NJ and the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in NYC, he was chosen Milwaukee Poet Laureate 2002-03. His latest chapbook, Touch Each Other, is available from FootHills Publishing. When not wildernessing or traveling to read his poems, he lives along a wild stretch of the Milwaukee River. For further info, see his website: www.antlerpoet.net.