Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Then the Twin Towers Fell (my September 11 story)

I couldn't leave the woman
I was living with
on September 10th.

It was the life I knew
and she needed me,
but I stopped needing her.

I had strayed
long before this,
and only my material things
were still there.

We shared a bed
but were not intimate,
we shared a life
but were disconnected,
we shared a house
but were not married.

She survived a lifetime of
sexual abuse and trauma
but the scars carved
unbridgeable chasms
into our life together.

After seven years
it had all become passionless,
and I cheated on her
which only added to my guilt,
fueled my obligation,
and strengthened my paralysis.

My soul cried
to be released
from the twin towers
of guilt and obligation.

The next morning
an airplane flew into
the World Trade Center,
and like others,
I saw the instant replay
as a tragic accident.
Then came a second plane,
then, a third at the Pentagon
and a fourth destined
for the White House.

the world seemed disoriented,
knocked from its axis,
hurtling, upside down
in chaotic twisted disorder.

Shock and suspicion and confusion
went viral
because the terrorists could be anywhere,
or everywhere.

I saw the quick and unforgiving
nature of reality,
the fragility,
the precious lives
snuffed out
like cigarette butts,

and my guilt and obligation
seemed small and pointless,

and that motorcycle I was riding
in the fast lane
after midnight
without the headlights off,

pulled over

and I knew
I had to make
a change

and then the twin towers fell,

and one month and a day
after September 11th,

I left her
for the woman
who eventually
become my wife.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at - Love that site!]


  1. Wow. The weight of obligation has smothered me for so very long...even the devastation of the towers, all those lives lost...could not shake me from it. The world turned that, watching CNN in my little piece of Hillybilly County, a country away...where I cried, and a part of me died. My rose colored glasses still have the fracture those events left...and there is no mending it. But out of chaos comes order, out of devastation comes hope, and for some, the courage they need to make that change for the better...there will be many miracles revealed as a result of that day...and many stories of transition and took us through the devastation...toward the light. Awesome write...and my apologies for the essay that resulted!

  2. Thanks, Natasha, and thanks esp for the essay - I loved it.

  3. Thanks, Mosk. I love this.

  4. A incredible powerful writing! Intense, personal & strong! Life in a moment ~ a deadly flash ~ changes everything that we thought we once knew!

    1. Don't we all know it - thanks for your kind words.

  5. Former New Yorker here... That day put people into two distinct categories: those who were shattered and remain fearful to this day, like untreated PTSD, and those who were rudely awakened to this, our real life, what IS, what may change, what we can change.

    Since Sept. 11, 2001, my life has been a combination of high-octane activism and The Serenity Prayer. Together, they make for a good balance.

    Thank you for sharing this most intimate story I've ever read about the fallout in your life from that disaster. Lives end in a trice and turn on a dime. Your turn was most intentional, and it was the only choice. Bless you, brudda. Love, Ameleh

  6. Thanks, dear Ameleh, and I love that combo: high-octane activism and The Serenity Prayer.

  7. wow...crazy story man...and def glad you woke up from where you were...obligation is def heavy in this and that is no way to live....barely survive even and when you know it....and sometimes it takes the world turning upside down for us to see it...

    1. Thanks, Professor! It was a crazy time, and that last month was similarly awful. I'm just glad I came out of it - there was a whole big beautiful world waiting.

  8. Such an intense write--I think of your work often that way, but this one, seems more revealing somehow--a place you came to --maybe we all go there at points in our lives--I always enjoy reading your work---

    1. Thanks, Audrey. This is one that's a documentary. I appreciate your kind words, Mosk

  9. Thanks for the personal share...I specially like the twin towers of guilt and obligation...sometimes it takes a tragedy to make us realize what really matters...I enjoyed this ~

  10. Write the novel. Seriously. This is a fascinating story. I don't know you, and yet the power of this story makes me happy that 9/11 released you from the grip of emotions that did not represent your better self.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence. This comment made me smile.

  11. I do think many of us found meaning for ourselves in the events of 9/11. Perhaps we each needed make some sense of the horrific tragedy. I am glad that 9/11 inspired you to leave your passionless life and find REAL love.

  12. "I saw the quick and unforgiving
    nature of reality,
    the fragility,
    the precious lives
    snuffed out
    like cigarette butts,

    and my guilt and obligation
    seemed small and pointless,"

    Guilt, the gift that keeps on giving... a favorite saying of a friend of mine's and so true! This is a very personal write, obviously something you must be reminded of each year at this time too. A lot changed with 9/11, and yet our lives went on. So glad yours went on to a better place for you.

  13. Anonymous9:19 PM

    Passion spent, guilt, extreme tragedy, scars, is the cycle of life...and we are all cogs in the wheel of life...You weave well your personal experience with love and that with a senseless national and global tragedy. Well done!

  14. WOW! What a fantastic story. The "twin towers of guilt and obligation".....and then the towers fell. What a story this is. How did I not manage to ferret this out of you during our interview? Hee hee. My nose for news must have been off that day!!!!! Love this poem, kiddo. Great story, well-told. With a happy ending. My favorite kind.

  15. Anonymous4:47 AM

    The ashes of a tragic, senseless act and the cinders of spent passion woven into a meaningful poetic tapestry. Fine work.

  16. What a great piece, I love your work so much. It pulled at my heart strings. I'm almost speechless.

  17. Wow. Some things really put our lives into perspective. Beautiful.