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Skyscraper Apocalypse


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

skyscraper apocalypse.


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.

Till now.


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

would stand

looking up at circling seagulls

looking down at him

little knowing

skyscrapers so high

would be built

or jet planes exist


by deranged fanatics

deliberately crashing

into those skyscrapers

murdering thousands

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


the explosion—

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



[Originally published in NHS 2013, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/_special_edition_nhs_2013/.]