Oh Did You See the Ashes Come Thickly Falling Down? Poems Posted in the Wake of September 11

  • Steve Zeitlin


“In a crisis, poets lose words … You can find them here.” With these words, poet Bob Holman, who watched the Towers collapse from his apartment just blocks away from the Trade Towers, provided an opening salvo for City Lore s online call for poets of all denominations to contribute a line to a collaborative poem.

Topfloor. Hold eyes. Hold hands. Take wing.

Better to fly than do nothing.

Out the window, PS 234, “Teacher, the birds are on fire.”

Fire turns into sky,

Better to fly than do nothing, better to fly.

Soaring eagles spy glowing ember -

The pyres of the Phoenix and the Turtle burn wholly.

Wailing whispers. Lost angels

Wrapped in dust drift down

An avalanche of ash disappears the world

With every breath, a shower of shoes

The day’s sandwich is uneaten

Fear rips out tongue.

The dead race for the sky …

Follow us as we run up streets.


Ground Zero Teddy Bear Canal Street Photo Credit Memorial Wall 
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References Cited

  1. Barry, Dan. 2001. The New York Times, September 25, 2001.Google Scholar
  2. Chidester, David, and Edward T. Linenthal. 1995. American Sacred Space. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Foucault, Michel. 1984. Space, Knowledge, and Power. In Paul Rabinnow (ed.), The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  4. Harlow, Iiana, and Steve Zeitin. 2001. How Much of the City’s Grief Should We Preserve, Newsday, Sunday, October 14, 2001.Google Scholar
  5. Leeuw, Gerardus van der. 1986. Religion in Essence and Manifestation. Trans. J.E. Turner, foreword by Ninian Smart. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Orig. German ed. 1933.Google Scholar
  6. Smith, Dinitia. 2001. NY Times, “In Shelley or Auden, In the Sonnet or Free Verse, the Eerily Intimate Power of Poetry to Console.” October 1, 2001. Sec. E. p.1, col. 3.Google Scholar
  7. Urry, John. 1985. Social Relations, Space and Time. In Social Relations and Spatial Structures, ed. Derek Gregory and John Urry, New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  8. Quoted in David Chidester and Edward T. Linenthal (eds.), American Sacred Space. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995, 2001. 18.Google Scholar
  9. Waldman, Amy. 2001. The New York Times, September 29, 2001.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jack Santino 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steve Zeitlin

There are no affiliations available

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