Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Requiem for a Nation Wounded

Six years on and we’re still numb and grieving
Through the smoky haze and the yellow ribbons
Plastered on automobiles like they sprouted naturally
Cold graveyards still beat tumultuously with mourners
Filing past their solemn candlelit vigils
Weeping millions huddle confused and puzzled
Meekly asking God for solace and guidance
As brains burn with the memory
Of that harrowing September morning

Beneath a blue sky, the thunder roared
Death fiercely delivered on metallic wings
Crushing the soul, destroying dreams
Raining steel, glass and ash on Manhattan
People frightened, gasped horror-stricken
Pulses pounding, quivering in doorways
At this thing delivered swiftly with cunning
A Trojan horse violently exploding with fiery pillars
Angry young men babbling about divine war
Smiting enemies vengefully while cackling threats
Box-cutters, cellphones, bloodcurdling screams
“Let’s roll”, jetliners, tearful goodbyes
Firefighters raising a tattered flag
Over a smoking crater of charred hopes and dreams
As America died and resurrected itself

Realm of abject hopelessness, ruined land of death
Sprung again to life with charity and breath
Nations are not mended with concrete and iron
They are bound by blood, flesh, sinew and muscle
Teeming masses united in strength
Raised up the hulking, shattered husk
Cleared away the dead and swept away the dust
Heal the wounds, create heroes from men
Revere uncommon bravery and praise those lost
Calm the frightened, the tempest-tossed
Treasure the principles we took for granted
Makeshift hospitals, donating blood, giving time
Guilt and pain washing through, a baptism by fire

A man will never again see his wife
A mother never again her son
Photographs of the missing, the victims
A collage of faces, a desperate attempt
Phone calls never made, messages go unanswered
The nervous pacing across floors and corridors
The guilt, the uncertainty, the sorrow
Just an employee at a cubical, a desk, an office
Now a casualty in the trenches
Whose unfinished lives sadly linger
In notations and promises and dreams

Shoulder to shoulder, American brothers and sisters
Varying races, creeds, colors, religions
A spectrum of humanity lashed together by fate
Standing united, hearts thumping in synch
Amidst falling skyscrapers and flaming fuselages
Clench our fists and grit our teeth
As sorrow gives way to heated rage
We were Pearl Harbor
We were London during the Blitz
We were the Gauls facing the Romans
Invaders shrunk the world and in one moment
On one violent day, our grim future cast
Before us in a cataclysmic eruption

With a steady, frigid stare we realize our task
Song of vengeance, of resolve and retribution
Battle Hymn of the Republic, a call to arms
The eagle soars with talons sharp
Emboldening and mightily we reach across the Atlantic
Piercing the heart of the jackals skulking in their lair
A phalanx of rogues, warped by dogma, fortified by hate
Afghanistan tortured by scimitar and crescent
They know Hammurabi’s Code, “An eye for an eye”
So they understand our vengeance, our thirst for justice
What would the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
Think of this clash with the infidels,
Of alien cultures, of democracy versus theocracy
Of incinerated humanity, twisted metal
Ground Zero, the Pentagon, a field near Shanksville
Hijacked airplanes, pepper spray, young Muslim men
Screaming “Allahu Akbar” reverberating
Like a morose death knell spelling doom?

An arrow struck the American breast
Defiantly we grasped the shaft and plucked it out
As innocent blood spewed forth for 3,000 dead
Wounds heal over time, yet scars never fade
A grim reminder of that chaotic day
When America died and was reborn
Will our descendants a century on
Ensconced by time’s comfortable distance
Ruminate on a September day early in the 21st century,
A dawning age of terror and fear
Pay their respects with flowers and humble encomiums
For those thousands of civilians fanaticism killed?

Though rain beats on graves of the fallen
And monuments and medallions fade with age
The names of those departed etched in marble
In the living rock, in our collective memory
Never shall be forgotten, but preserved and
Sanctified by history
As a grateful and empathetic generation
Lays a red rose on the icy, wet slab
An offering for souls long gone
Taken from a simpler, gentler time
Before America was reborn anew

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