Tuesday, dark before dawn, September,
Rachel left her essence on my bed. Shoes,
my shoe size has not changed, St. Agnes.
This morning I sat on the side of my bed
scratching my Tycho Brahe nose, sniffling
and shaking after sex, white powder, snake
demon, my body stuffed with newspapers.
This particular morning fetes coffee,
my first sounds pentagraph, phlegm
and phlegmon exposed en plein air,
all primrose & purl before my drive to work.
The bull-baiters sat or stood in their spaces,
reading magazines, water cooler, copier,
fax machines. The AM news crew, West Coast,
interlocutors of bad weather & slow traffic,
Bocca Baciata, await further banalities.
Some bull-dogs boarded their flights in Boston.
Boston likewise harnessed some of the others.
A third pack snapped at their leashes dully
at Dulles, vellicating, the final dog pack on
their haunches in Newark, pari passu.
Pis, the Manneken Pis today wore a taqiyah,
was attired in a kufi blowing in the breeze.
The bull-dogs wore light sweaters draped
over ironed button-up shirts, pastel colors.
Who would suspect atavism from cretins
wearing light pink over baby blue? Who?
When the images began to filter in
they were inaccrochable.
I can’t hang these monitors up on my wall!
Look at what they show: A baize rip
in the fabric of time and space. The façade
of a horrified opera frozen in a rictus
of heads and faces. Melpomene.
Actuality film: 9/11.
The first plane fumes inside.
The din of the newsroom, telephones.
The assignment desk calling everyone.
Gary Oldman. Bring me everyone.
Crack your neck. What do you mean
everyone? I MEAN EVERYONE!
All telephone lines ringing.
DVCPRO tapes flying across the room,
no time to hand off tapes civilly,
no courtesy. Curses and fuck yous
and do your damn job for once, asshole,
editors actually getting out of their edit bays
and picking up their tapes in shock, disbelief.
What is going on? Two PAs assigned only
to label tapes correctly, to write timecode
on the labels. Telephone keeps ringing.
When the second plane struck, the explosion
roared in the middle of our newsroom.
My vision became hieratic.
I could not comprehend what I was seeing,
I had a sinking feeling I wanted to be doing
anything else, be anywhere else,
Eisteddfod. The Buttermilks.
My job, watching the news wires, I saw
everything, every angle,
the airplane flying over the firefighters,
the direct hit, the camera panning
then running, Moloch.
Averroes, I have read, was banished
and all his books burnt. His rationality
was condemned by the Fuqaha of his time.
Fuqaha. Fuck you. Fuqaha. Fakir. Faker.
Actuality film: 9/11.
The Twin Towers fell in silence.
The first one fell. My nose bled.
I had to staunch the flow at my work station.
I used my shirt, I didn’t care. Epistaxis.
The second tower fell. I’d shut down
my ears by then, worked by rote.
The phone lines died down.
An eerie quiet, a shroud, covered us
like ash, the drifting ash
emanating from the monitors.
A swordsman swinging wildly,
whistling air and snow blind,
palliated and forced to listen
to the distant random thuds
of landing bodies, his comrades.
Fade to black: Calumet Farms.
One camera fixed on a gaping hole,
deep smoldering embers, fire eyes.
Thirty-six months or more, fixed lens,
a chasmal gorge, engorged catastrophe,
the Ground Zero update became staple
at the bottom of the first block, 11:08 pm
approximate. By that time of night,
lights and smoke, lights on smoke,
a spotlight on an accidental crossbeam cross
delineating new battle lines, the crescent
and star against the cross, jamais vu.
I reinforced my lack of belief in God.
A Mosque proposed at 51 Park Place,
never finished. A war, invasions,
shoe bombers, fuses in underwear,
full body scanners in all airports,
Guantanamo, Afghanistan, cartoons
of the prophet, piss be upon him,
the rising death toll, never finished.
The World Trade Center memorial & museum
finished on that same Arab Spring.
Pis, the Manneken Pis in Brussels
dressed like a sailor, I check the statue
online at least once a week. I wonder
if this means some seafaring calamity.
I shave and I look in the mirror and I
shake with some kind of Capgras delusion.
My peripherals are all water blurred,
I perceive cascades sliding down my walls.
I walk on tenterhooks floating, syncope
barely held at bay. I’m dying. I’m dying
and I’m blasé. Rachel, she married
and moved away. I’m too old now
for palimpsest, too fat to be a man
of active virtue.