My Poem for September 11th … (written in 2001)

It was published as a broadside by From Here Press:

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

Penny Harter


Smoke still rises from the rubble
as the city shifts toward autumn.
We continue to count
the missing and the dead.

Images sear the membranes
of our eyelids, instant replays
burning our days and nights.


Stumbling from their school,
running ahead of the tsunami
of smoke and debris
churning down Manhattan streets,

the children screamed,
some of them crying
that mommy or daddy
worked in the Tower
where they saw fire
and smoke.

One child, looking up
at bodies falling from great height,
called out, “Look, teacher,
the birds are on fire!”


Peregrine falcons nest
in the city’s canyons,
raising their young on cliffs
that we have made.

They swoop to take pigeons,
their sharp wings glinting
as they dive—midst pollution,
power lines, and helicopters.

Sometimes they mistake
skyscraper windows
for the sky.


Peregrinus—Latin for wanderer.
Inhabiting every continent
except Antarctica, peregrines wander
through our voices from antiquity:


Ancient Egyptians saw
the peregrine at dawn,
at dusk, carrying
the rising sun,
the setting sun.

Soaring above
the smoke of the City,
the sun in its feathers—
a different kind of fire—

peregrine sees
river, ocean,
the arc of the horizon.

And we go on.


Some of our names for the peregrine falcon appear in the following languages, in order: Nyunga, Japanese, Malayalam, Iñupiat, Hebrew, French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Swedish, Russian, Arabic, Dutch, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Nordish, German, Mandarin.

Copyright © 2001 Penny Harter. Published as a broadside by From Here Press.


About penhart

I am a poet and writer, published widely in journals and anthologies, and my literary autobiography appears as an extended essay in "Contemporary Authors." My poems have recently appeared in "Rattle" ,"Tiferet," and "U.S. 1 Worksheets". Work has also appeared in "The Valparaiso Poetry Review," and "Umbrella." Recent books include 'One Bowl" (2012); "Recycling Starlight" (2010); and "The Night Marsh" (2008).. Earlier collections include "Along River Road"; "Lizard Light: Poems From the Earth"; and "Buried in the Sky." My illustrated alphabestiary for children, "The Beastie Book," was published in the December, 2009, by Shenanigan Books. I have won three poetry fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, as well as awards from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Mary Carolyn Davies Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the first William O. Douglas Nature Writing Award for my work in the anthology "American Nature Writing 2002." I was invited to be a "featured poet" and read at the 2010 Dodge Poetry Festival, and was awarded a residency / fellowship for January, 2011, at VCCA (Virginia Center for the Creative Arts." I live in the South Jersey shore area, and work as a visiting poet in the schools through programs sponsored by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and various other agencies. I'm still fairly new at blogging and hope to add more graphics, etc., as I learn more.
This entry was posted in Other poetry, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s