Driving down the interstate
On a dreary gray morning
I watch the slow arc
Of wind shield wipers
Back and forth. . .
Back and forth. . .
One slow swipe at the time.
The slick pavement stretches
Out endlessly before me.
A black snake curving and winding,
Beckoning me forward, beckoning
Me on to a destination I’m familiar with.
But it’s not a place I know.
It’s not a place I want to know.
It’s a place I’ve been forced to know.
It’s a place we’ve all been forced to know.
A place given to us as a birthright,
A birthright we’ve unwillingly inherited,
Pushed upon us in the space of hours
In order to send a chilling message:
“You’re not invincible.”
Suddenly I feel the fear and despair,
See the clouds of smoke
Billowing from the towers,
And hear the roar as the building collapses.
And I know, I suddenly know that
The sins of our fathers have become
The problems, the sins of
The sons and of the daughters.
Are we to be punished
For the sins of our fathers?
A sin that isn’t a sin.
It’s only a sin to him.
A sin that wasn’t a sin
But an answer to a cry for help.
The response of a people
Became an excuse for a holy war.
A jihad is what they call it.
We are them, and they are us.
People of the book to be
Treated with respect,
And yet seven long years have passed,
Dragging on agonizingly slow,
So slow, but the death toll
Rises so fast. Everyday more boys,
Mere boys, die because people of the book
Are fighting people of the book.
Fighting a war whose origins lie
In a time when those who died
Weren’t even alive.
A country is laid to waste
And a dictator displaced,
But what has really been accomplished?
Nothing is resolved or will ever be resolved.
Bombs continue to go off and
Buildings crumble and fall.
The death toll continues to rise,
Its ranks swelled with the lives
Of so many innocent boys,
Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives,
Sons, and daughters. . . people
Fighting with a conviction to end
This jihad that’s laid waste to much
Without mending or solving a thing.
And I realize, I realize
That even if it were to end now,
That it won’t truly end with us.
The black snake will stretch forth
Laying out a path for us to travel.
A one way path to destruction
Where the beginning is the end
And the end is the beginning.
The phoenix will rise from
The ashes of a country laid to waste,
And our sons and daughters
Will be punished for the sins of their fathers.
The Twin Towers were attacked on September 11, 2001. This poem was written in 2008, 7 years after the attack.