Poets Respond to 9/11

My City

What if life were long
and eternity short?

In my city innocent people
are killed by a thunderous
terror from above. Vendors
in the street are pummeled
by rubble. Men and women
on their way to work are greeted
with the anonymous hatred
of those they have never met.
Janitors, businessmen, clerks,
cooks, construction workers, the rescue
workers who risk all to help these.
My beloved city showered with death.

We cry up and ask, in the midst
of the screams of loved ones,
why do they hate us so?
Why do they do this to our city,
to our lives?
My stomach turns in on itself.
The people I love, burning, dissolving,
dying. The city I love, attacked
from above. My brothers in agony.
My sisters. Children. Mothers. Dead.
Who would do this?
Why my beautiful city?
How do we survive this
but by breathing the city’s name
over and over like a mantra, a prayer?
Baghdad, Baghdad, Baghdad.

-John O’Connor
A poet and labor organizer living in New York City who wrote this poem in late September, 2001.

found poem*

put your poems here
an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind
don’t turn tragedy into war
please don’t hurt our muslim neighbors
have you seen this person?
Nancy Yues Njo
last seen in Tower 1, 95th floor
wearing light green jade necklace


NY Not in Our Name
our grief is not a cry for war
war is not the answer
rest in peace julia cruz
No to War
Yes to Peace
Resist racist war
God knows no boundaries between us and them
no more war
all living beings are sacred
thank you

- elana levy
*composed of notes left at Union Square Memorial Park, 23rd September 2001


i’m standing in a bus station
caught between 2 tvs
at the point where their sound
becomes the relentless drone it really is
it’s 2002
and Big Brother has you watching him
i’m suspect for hanging out in my own mind
the man behind the glass
is wondering why
i don’t want to hear about the next anthrax attacks
millions are dying of poverty
but what kind of news is that?

-Clara McCarthy