I am Dramatic
With 14th anniversary of 9/11 having just passed, I’ve been working on my own poem about that time.
I first started by using the “found poem” technique and re-reading some emails I had kept from the day.
What strikes me now was the difficulty we had in referring to it. On that day, the event went untitled. We all know what we were talking about. Then we started to use phrases like “Our national tragedy” and “that horrible day” and even just “Ground Zero.”
Calling it “September 11” didn’t emerge until a few weeks later, at least how I remember it.
I decided to scrap my found poem, as it was a jumbled mess that didn’t mean much to me, and re-wrote it in a stronger point of view.
Before the Day Had a Name
I can only send you an email
to patch together some peace
after the phone call doesn’t go through,
so there wouldn’t just be hatred
to mask the sound of jet engines
and the 20th Century
360 million pounds
I never lived through war before
so I cry during the morning news
I am trapped in a city
where the traffic is ordered
but the trauma stills needs to be raked through.
© Melissa Currence, 2015
I have written a few September 11 poems, and I’ve never been very happy with them. Share links to your 9/11 writing. I’d love to see them.
- “Beyond Grief and Grievance: The poetry of 9/11 and its aftermath” (2011), an essay by Philip Metres
- “We Will Never Forget: 9/11 Writing Prompts” (2012) by Sylvia Ney
- “Ten Years of 9/11 Poems” (2011) by Robert Brewer
I have a wonderful writing group. We formed organically out of a poetry community education class (taught by the poet Mick Parsons), and we met monthly for 5 years until one of us moved a few states away. We still get together a few times a year to catch up, talk poetry and share what we wrote.
But I miss our monthly meeting schedule when I was sure to complete at least one poem a month. And since I love to journal, it is easy for me to write only for myself.
I need THE DEADLINE!
To help me, I came up with the idea that I would write at least one poem and publish it here by the 8th day of every month. I hope you will write with me! This Challenge can be for any creative writing.
Why the 8th Day?
Besides the number 8 being the infinity symbol (I’ll write forevah!), I chose this date because being early in the month just makes it feel less lazy. And I can make a reoccurring appointment in my calendar, FTW.
I saw you on the TV news once
during a story about teens chewing on pacifiers –
the plaids and chokers and your laughing eyes
filled the screen
You read my diary before you transferred,
letting out my secrets into the junior high air
revealing I was a simple formula
– a sketch of a real human, the pencil outlines of a life –
I didn’t even know how to crush until I met you
The church girl in me worried
you wouldn’t leave teenage-hood unscathed.
But now I know we were all meant to stand there
and let it crash into us
as the scars become the beauty
the pain fills us in
© Melissa Currence, 2015
Let me know if you try the #8thDayChallenge for yourself!
Connect with me
I am from
I am from Virgin Marys in porcelain and Saint Francis of Assisi’s in concrete
I am from chipped china and homemade cocktail sauce
I am from reading nooks and Picasso prints, arguments about the battle of Gettysburg and Scotch on the rocks.
I am from Bing Crosby records and cutting strong coffee with cream
I am from Broadway playbills and snipped holly branches
I am from Latin prayers and midnight mass, frosted mountains and deep sloping yards
I am from cousins arm-in-arm, dripping mac and cheese and hidden Easter eggs in lamp shades.
I am from sailor suits and dads at the head of the table
I am from tattered leather prayer books and taped-up picture frames
I am from rotary phones and rubber bands stored in drawers
I am from manger scenes and baby grand pianos out of tune.
I am without you now. I am all because of you.
© Melissa Currence 2015
I wrote this poem as part of an challenge poised by Ally Vesterfelt at the first Tribe Conference this past weekend in Franklin, Tennessee. This writing exercise originated with George Ella Lyons and has been written countless times.
As I was writing, I was picturing my grandmother’s house, which we had to dismantle after she passed away in 2012. I miss it still.
Have you tried this exercise? I’d love to know!