Cement Cloud 

for Reesom Haile & Saba Kidane

Front window TV breaking news just breaking
Lucy at the assembly line. Must eat more pastries faster!
When One falls, I think if the Other comes this way
It would flatten my flat yet Dad waits for family to come
Home what is that a place of safety laughter breaks
The sky so clear and how beautifully plunging my Friends
From the flaming pickets of the “World” nefarious
Brilliance blinds from death even “Is the air controller’s
Is history lies jokes tell themselves leaving trails of skin

The panic from just outside is my story holes of plane
And human there is first the body keep telling yourself
That or anything because what comes next to LIFT us
Ineffable dies in the utter unspeakability political under
Standing or taking of everything the value of freedom
Of peace and the seed that grows into a home where
The door can open a fireball erupts your tongue
Is suddenly singing Remember eyes locked forever
On the double tombstone that is not there and always

Dear Friends – we’re camping
out on Duane St. w/o
phone/electric but lives yes just
live em till till, I guess. I’m at my
dear brother’s office on 20th St.
— Internet, phone, hooray!

Yesterday, Elizabeth looked me
in the eye and said, Do not
withdraw! The first time
anyone’s ever had the nerve to
say that to me (the other side
of my maniae, donchaknow). It
was amazing to hear. I heard.
And I recommend it to
everyone. Do not withdraw!

The horrors are everywhere; it is incomprehensible. It is bitter
and ugly and sad and the concrete – the streets they are the same
but what’s on them now are vehicles of
death and pollution, of clean up and try to wash off the
stench of destruction. This is hard to imagine in my City,
my beautiful City full of energy and sharp beauty.

The smell is powerful, acrid; masks are important. I ride
my bike, checkpoint at 14th is calm, Houston is tough,
Canal varies. I have not walked below Duane. The rubble
of 7WTC still smolders at the end of Greenwich St., 5
blocks away.

Rumors fly about why there’s no electric – gas leaks was
the leading reason until I turned on my gas and it worked.
The giant floodlights at night maybe? – they get direct
hooks, perhaps that’s why the neighborhood’s unplugged.

Hard to do anything. I missed my class at Bard on
Wednesday but I do find the books we’re reading (Eco’s
The Island of the Day Before
and Frank Stanford’s The
Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You) soothing.

One thing – we don’t think of when things will return to
Normal. There’s a new normal now, with tentacles in
many directions and time is needed to grip them, for them
to grip us and each other. Don’t withdraw. Use words.


Note: Reesom Haile and Saba Kidane, to whom this piece is dedicated, are poets from the African country of Eritrea. Haile is Eritrea’s poet laureate and was a sensation at last spring’s Peoples Poetry Gathering in New York (see www.peoplespoetry.org where there is currently an ongoing collaborative poem about the terrorist attacks). Kidane is a brilliant 26-year-old Eritrean fighter-poet.

The Hot & the Bothered was written by poet Bob Holman who lives just five blocks north of ground zero in New York City — and edited by George Tysh. E-mail [email protected] Thanks to poetry.about.com where this piece first

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