I sat in the hotel lobby eating a strawberry bagel with cream cheese when the second tower exploded in flames. A plume of smoke and fire erupted as I got up to attend my grandfather’s funeral. I wondered what the World War II veteran would think of domestic terrorism as the dragon flies danced up to visit the land of the dead. Later, in my stiff hotel bed, I dreamed Osama bin Laden was holding me hostage in a bunk bed while he walked around in white socks like a slumber party.
I’m not a huge fan of prose poetry, so I almost skipped this exercise from the craft book I’ve been studying, In the Palm of Your Hand: A Poet’s Portable Workshop by Steve Kowit. The first task was to list traumatic events in your life. Can you do that without cracking your head open wide and letting the blood spill out onto the floor? I tend to keep my lip zipped when it comes to emotions but if there were one day I felt shocked, sad, traumatized, and scared, it was on 9/11.
For most people, it was a typical day but for me, this was the day of my beloved maternal grandfather’s funeral. So, I was indeed in the lobby of the hotel room eating breakfast when I saw the second tower hit by the airplane. It was the creepiest moment of my life because I realized that it was not a tape playing back but indeed a second attack and the commentator hadn’t noticed yet. I was watching terrorism happen live on television. Technology never seemed so cruelly applied.
It was a very sad day burying my grandfather and awful watching the terror unfold as the Pentagon was hit, the plane crashed in a field, and the towers crumbled to their end. I’ll never forget how blue the sky was that day or how the dragon flies danced near the mausoleum above the green grass. How could such a beautiful day contain such misery and grief?
That night, everyone raced home but I was still in a hotel by myself. I woke late to a nightmare of Osama bin Laden holding me hostage. The weird part was that he was frolicking around the darkly lit room in bright white socks. I do not know what this means but a slumber party symbolizes innocence of childhood. America lost a lot of innocence after this attack and I don’t mean to piss people off here, but we finally seemed to get that not everyone was in love with us.
In the past, I tried to put these two events together in a poem and it failed, so maybe it was time to give the prose poem a try. Do you write prose or poetry? Do you prefer the long sentences of prose or the verse structure of poetry? While I’ve been trained to write in verse, I certainly don’t hold anything against prose poetry and I’m open to reading it. Comment with a line or two of your own prose if you feel fanciful.
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