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Three 9/11 Poems by Nancy Mercado

NANCY MERCADO holds a doctoral degree from Binghamton University, SUNY. She is the author of It Concerns The Madness (Long Shot Productions). Most recently she served as the editor of: if the world were mine, a children’s anthology published by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Her work has been anthologized in: From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas, 1900-2002 edited by Ishmael Reed (Thunder’s Mouth Press); Poetry After 911: An anthology of New York Poets (Melville House Publishers); Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art (Third World Press); Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (Crown Publishing); Identity Lessons: Contemporary Writing About Learning to be American (Penguin); Changer L’Amérique Anthologie De La Poésie Protestataire Des USA (Maison De La Poésie); In Defense Of Mumia (Writers and Readers Press); and ALOUD: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café (Henry Holt). Nancy Mercado’s work has also appeared in literary magazines such as: Columbia University’s City Magazine, El Boletin del Centro from Hunter College-CUNY, GARE MARITIME published in France, New York University publications; Brownstone Magazine and The Gallatin Review, A Gathering of the Tribes, Drum Voices, Long Shot, The Paterson Literary Review, and Rattapallax Magazine. She has served, for eleven years, as an editor of Long Shot and as the publication’s editor-in-chief for one of those years. She has presented her work throughout the US, Europe and in Canada.

Going To Work

On their daily trips
Commuters shed tears now
Use American flags
Like veiled women
To hide their sorrows
Rush to buy throwaway cameras
To capture your twin ghosts
Frantically I too
Purchase your memory
On post cards & coffee mugs
In New York City souvenir shops
Afraid I’ll forget your façade
Forget my hallowed Sunday
Morning Path Train rides
My subway travels through
The center of your belly
Afraid I’ll forget your power
To transform helicopters
Into ladybugs gliding in the air
To turn New York City
Into a breathing map
To display the curvature
Of our world

For the Ironworkers

The ironworkers came
Stacked with tools
In the naked night
A night devoid of grace
Devoid of warmth
They arrived
Weighed down with
Giant surgical instruments
Hauling them through rubble
Like cattle climbing canyons
The ironworkers toiled
For nights and days
Sunken in a mass of debris
In a sweltering heat
In the smell of death
They worked to dismember
What remained of the tallest towers
On the earth
They labored to burry
What they had given birth to.


Toward The Towers


Seagulls fly slowly in the haze
Build friendships with Staten Island Ferry riders
Making us laugh at their kooky grins
At their little plump bodies airborne by the boat
They seem motionless, dangling
A muggy cool breeze clings to my skin
Clings to the icy metal of the John F. Kennedy Ferry
Leisurely we glide toward Manhattan
The clearing fog reveals your absence

A Perfect Day In Progress

Looking Up
On this day clouds were on vacation
Leaving our skies opened
Glory was everywhere
The sun generously embraced us
Even inside gloom-ridden city crevices
Its light rested

Voices pierced through
The car radio
Gnarled human racket
Sirens bending in the wind
Crashing glass bellowed
Before incomprehension lifts
To reveal the many bloodied voices
I must phone Puerto Rico


My descent into the student lounge
Is like a sluggish desert crossing
I see the mystified
Cringing in the sitting room
Looking to hide the day
Eyes relentlessly collect around
Television monitors that throb


On the tube
His slender body slowly caves
I run out of the lounge
Into the open sky
Dragging my jaw behind

Witnesses are called
To confirm the bright sun
The blue firmament
The warm September day
What just happened
The question bobs in
Street puddles of tears

One tower stands alone

We all searched the sprawling heavens
Investigated our neighbor’s face
Hope made tracks
Off to some hidden place
We want to follow
To travel through that hole
To arrive at yesterday

I cannot control the airplanes
The bombs
The guns
The poison

The Twenty-first Century
War engine revs-up
Humanity obsesses in its
Shortsighted lunacy for Now
We trash the natural world
For shopping sprees
For control over veiled grandmothers
For imaginary star rank
Become obese with consumer jingles
Binge on religious claptrap

Trick ourselves into buying
The delusion that we are better
Than the next poor bastard

Copyright © 2004 by Nancy Mercado. All rights reserved. GOING TO WORK first published in Poetry After 911: An Anthology of New York Poets (Melville House, 2002).

Graphics copyright (C) 2004 by Daniela Gioseffi. All rights reserved.

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