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September 11, 2001

by William F Dougherty

I slouch into my class, bowed by the brute,
apocalyptic shock. No student's eyes
forsake the glowing screen; the sound is mute:
their center, the assigned poem forewarns, flies
apart—soundless tsunami of white soot
boils down the streets a surreal toppled sky,
makes discussion of “Second Coming” moot;
flattens a globe to the planisphere, why.

Students stir, but no one leaves. No one speaks.
I postpone pretending I understand
"indignant desert birds" -–abruptly weak
words on Yeats’s beast slouching across sand.

I chew my lip and mumble class dismissed;
follow them out, my pockets crammed with fist.

[Original version published in Poems: New & Used, 2004.
Revised August, 2012.]


Posted on 08/28/2012
Copyright © 2021 William F Dougherty

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