Robert Shetterly ...The second strong feeling --- the first being horror --- I had on September 11 was hope, hope that the United States would use the shock of this tragedy to reassess our economic, environmental, and military strategies in relation to the other countries and peoples of the world. Many people hoped for the same thing --- not to validate terrorism, but to admit that the arrogance and appetite of the U.S., all of us, have created so much bad feeling in many parts of the world that terrorism is inevitable. I no longer feel hopeful. If one looks closely at U.S. foreign policy, the common denominator is energy, oil in particular. The world is running out of oil. Political leadership that had respect for the future of the Earth and a decent concern for the lives of American and non-American people would be leading us away from conflict toward conservation and economic justice, toward alternative energy, toward a plan for the survival of the world that benefits everyone. We see hegemony and greed thinly veiled behind patriotism and security. We get pre-emptive war instead of pre-emptive planning for a sustainable future. The greatness of our country is being tested and will be measured not by its military might but by its restraint, compassion, and wisdom. De Toqueville said, “America is great because it is good. When it ceases to be good, it will cease to be great.” A democracy, whose leaders and media do not try to tell the people the truth, is a democracy in name only. If the consent of voters is gained through fear and lies, America is neither good nor great. Nor is it America.
Someone…something… has fallen to earth,
Tumbling from far above to the dismal ground.
Each year, as this moment comes `round, we are met
With its foul-smelling, screeching descent.
We’ve not made peace with this unknown,
We’ve not processed the quivering snapshot,
We’ve only erected monuments of its anger…
Again, as I see myself in its decline,
I am greeted by my own intolerable failings
Determined to shackle the thrashing legs
And bind the wrist to stale, bleached bone.
O! We are resolute each time it falls to us,
To the solid earth; her clattering,
To this determination; our held posture…
Into the costly void we go again,
Deeper than the last, pungent in our horror,
Overlooking embers of exactness that boil
Deep below this; our replicating defeat!
To annually pen an immobile descent
In godforsaken reverie of vengeance
Is more damning than this occasion…
O! We’re clothed in potency by tailored failings;
This unremitting plunge shall course our evermore
Save we excavate our mettle from `neath dread and death.
(Let us not be trapped under the ruins of our own collapse.)
© 2007 mrp/thepoetryman
Thank you, Robert for the beautiful introductory words to the poem and for writing such an important book as Americans Who Tell The Truth.
Special mention to the amazing site, No Cure For That, where I had the pleasure of being introduced to Robert.
Here are other poetryman 9-11 poems:
1. One Life One Bone One Skull One Moment
2. Remember This Moment
3. Floor by Floor Beam by Beam Soul by Soul
4. In Pursuit of 9-11
6. Omnipresent Enemy
7. We Shall Never Forget (August 6, 2001)