guess what shock does is it protects you in some way, so I think
for me, for the first few days the bigger implications didn't really
sink in. And what I was feeling was just a profound sense of sadness
for the people who were in the building and for the families of
those people. And just the horror of what that meant for so many
days after the event, I was able to write one of the poems. But
I didn't mean to, and I actually really didn't think that I would
be able to write about the event. And after I wrote this one poem,
I couldn't write about the event for several weeks. No, I did not
think about writing. In fact, I thought, this is so huge, that there
is no way that words can begin to express what this is, and it would
be almost too contrived even to try.
7 (Bombing of Afghanistan)
remember hearing it, and I think, like a lot of Americans, I had
very mixed emotions about that. I was not in the gung-ho, let's-just-bomb-the-heck-out-of-them
camp. I felt that the United States probably didn't have any choice
at that point, but at the same time, I knew that there would be
civilian casualties, and I felt a deep, deep sense of grief and
responsibility for that side of it.
was still very focused on the victims, and what was really troubling
me, was that idea that these thousands of people had lived nice,
normal, loving lives with their families, and had touched so many
other lives, and that now, because of the way they died, I was concerned
that that would just overshadow the value of their lives, and the
brightness of their lives.
I was born, I had an older brother. And he was riding his bike,
and he was killed. The tragedy of his death, which happened in an
instant, really had a deep, deep effect on my family. It took me
years to learn about him as a person, because who he was, was very
much colored by the tragedy of his death. And I know that that was
in the back of my mind when I was writing this, because I really
felt for these victims, and I thought, Let's release these people
from being identified only as victims of this tragedy.
think it took a lot of weeks for us all to get our senses of humor
back, and even then, it was almost more a sense of sort of cynical
irony than a sense of humor. I wrote this poem in mid-December during
the holiday season, and really it just came from a newscast I saw
one night where there was news about the bombing, the bombing, the
bombing. And then there was this real short piece about how some
college students had written a play about Jesus and decided to make
him gay, and this play, of course, was very controversial and people
were demonstrating. And obviously I was just having fun with that
juxtaposition of events and some of the irony in even our own attitudes
about religion and our own sense of tolerance in the American culture.
really not cynical about the United States at all, and I believe
very deeply in democracy. I think that the events of 9/11, for me,
certainly brought out patriotism, but also a real need to do some
soul-searching. The United States has a tremendous amount of power.
It has tremendous resources. And I really see us as kind of the
rich kid on the block that is living in a way that is really not
taking other people into consideration. And
that's not to say that the violence of 9/11 could ever be justified
in any way. But I do think that there's a real need to look at our
relationships to other countries in the world.
country has so many articulate, thoughtful people, and it's disappointing
to me that we can't put that to work in trying to resolve some of
these problems. I'm not convinced that the way we're handling things
is really going to resolve them in the end.