Editor’s note: Two poets and past contributors to U.S. 1’s Summer Fiction issues saw to fit pay tribute in verse on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Their work is below.

My Song of Nine Eleven

If only I knew just one more thing — how to sing
I would render this song of nine eleven without breaking a string
The day, though two decades into the past
My song brings to life, rhythm by rhythm, in clear vision cast
The shouts and signs of the hearted that resonated in the morning shine
Only to fade into the stillness of each beat that stopped in too less a time

On this day, I was working in midtown Manhattan.
As soon as I entered my office, I saw an atmosphere of shock,
rather than the usual work ambience. I could not believe what I saw
on the TV in my boss’s room. One of the twin towers was in flames.
By the time I came down to Fifth Avenue, the second tower was in flames.
I felt a different kind of throb rather than the usual throb of city life.
And as I looked up, one of the towers began to collapse. I could see
the billowing smoke engulf what a few moments ago scaled the heights of
of the city skyline. My eyelids dropped unable to bear the weight of loss
and grief in my heart that came down as tears. I murmured to myself,
‘History repeats itself. But this kind of history should never repeat itself.’

One good thought starts right from the heart
And unto greatness molds itself in art
To all those lucky to survive, your presence is our united heroes’ pride
To all those gone, your pulse beats on to echo your united heroes’ ride
As the Twin Towers tumbled by the second, one after another lives melting into that cloud
We stood united heart-to-hand, our valor in deed, steered by thought and word
This compounded by the scores, as a score years rolled by, shared in strength, yet nigh
To this day stands tall, as people endear their feelings, the twin-in-one towering into the sky
If only I knew just one more thing — how to sing
I would render this song of nine eleven without breaking a string

— Lakshman Bulusu

Lakshman Bulusu is a poet, author, and Barnes and Noble Educator from Princeton NJ. His poetry is published in OpenDoorMagazine, The Poets’ Touchstone, Local Honey - Midwest, Five Willows Literary Review and other magazines in US, Europe, and India.

Anniversary

...all ash trees doomed
and, with them, baseball bats

spotted lanternfly inescapable

cicadas — come and gone —
shrouding maples/oaks
with the dead brown hue
of Franciscan robes

drowned Manville in the hands of looters
our President, in New Jersey, finally
repeating, repeating “Climate change”
“—nationwide!” “NOW”

Alexsauken Creek
“took a wrong turn”
“They told us
it never floods here!”

path of Mullica Hill tornado
a full thirteen miles

three policemen — washed into Princeton’s Stony Brook —
spending pitch-black hours
calling for help
with their guns

“Mold is dangerous.”
“Chemicals to remove mold
are dangerous.”

“That’ll be $75,000 to
remove fallen trees from your yard.”

Raritan of New Brunswick
awash in toxins.

...New Jersey realities learned at dawn this day:
9/11/2021
echoing ages ago
when disasters
were singular

— Carolyn Foote Edelmann

Carolyn Foote Edelmann was a co-founder of Princeton’s Cool Women Poets, and she spent three semesters as the first member of the community admitted to Princeton University’s Creative Writing Class. Poetry is vital to her, but Preservation always takes precedence.

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