9/11 (Villanelle)

9/11  (Villanelle)

The burning buildings woke me from a sleep
of what I thought important, nothing now.
I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street,

praying that my child was mine to keep,
dear god oh please dear god I whispered loud;
the burning buildings woke me from a sleep.

Some stopped to stare, all of us to weep
as eyes replayed the towers’ brutal bow.
I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street.

North sky a startling blue, the south a heap
of man-wrought cloud; I pushed against the crowd;
the burning buildings woke me from a sleep.

I’d never complain again, never treat
with trivial despair–or so I vowed.
I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street.

I’d change, give thanks—I saw them leap—
and begged for all the grace God would allow.
The burning buildings woke me from a sleep;
I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street.

(All rights reserved.  Karin Gustafson)

P.S. This is an old post, and an older poem, written shortly after 9/11/01 – but I am linking it to Victoria C. Slotto’s writing blog liv2write2day .

Explore posts in the same categories: 9/11, poetry, villanelle

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34 Comments on “9/11 (Villanelle)”


  1. […] For a poem (a villanelle) about 9/11 and also children, click here. […]

  2. Evelyn Says:

    difficult topic down in a difficult form.
    Its hard to write 9/11 poems, I feel I would never be able to make a true expression.
    Challenging yourself is awesome.
    favorite lines
    “with trivial despair–or so I vowed.
    I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street”

  3. hedgewitch Says:

    I find the villanelle the form I turn to when I have something almost impossibly difficult and sad to say. This is a very good one, well worth a repost in this anniversary week of an event that changed all our lives, and not for the better. Thanks for sharing.

  4. brian Says:

    whew…i was in the air the day it happened, flying to FL…put down in Atlanta…it was so surreal…your impressions in your verse bring it all back…

  5. Shawna Says:

    Beautiful post, Karin. This is such a horrifying feeling–the million-year moments before you know whether everything will be okay or not:

    “praying that my child was mine to keep,
    dear god oh please dear god I whispered loud”


  6. this is perfect we should all be remembering this day coming and your Villanelle is obviously crafted from love and sorrow


  7. I really liked this poem because it evoked just the right feeling for the occasion. It took me a few lines before I realized what it was about, but then suddenly was that sad, surreal feeling that I had that very day from 3,000 miles away. Being new to poetry as a medium, I am not familiar with the villanelle form, but I am going to have to look into how one is written. Peace, Linda

    • manicddaily Says:

      Thanks. I probably should do a better title or explanation. In fact, I live in downtown NYC and did see the second plane hit, and did run down to look for my daughter who was a few blocks away and was (thankfully) okay. It was a very emotional time for New Yorkers. Kind of crazy what’s become of it all. Thanks for reading and commenting.


  8. This was an appropriate subject for villanelle. Actually you could tell from the voice you wrote this poetry in that you were right there. I hope you both stay well. Life changes people, thank you for sharing.

  9. claudia Says:

    the villanelle was just so perfect to say what is so hard to talk about…the line with the child being yours to keep hit me right into the stomach as it makes the abstract very personal and brings the horror close to our hearts


  10. These things are so hard to read. These memories so hard to call up again. The horror, the anger, none of it will ever leave me. This brings it flooding back. Nicely done.

    My entry: http://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/cannonball-3/


  11. it haunts.
    powerful write.


  12. the perfect form for a tough subject – i think you have treated it well – this is powerful and strong

  13. rob kistner Says:

    Hi, Rob Kistner here. This is a piece well written, engaging – good work… mine is here: http://www.image-verse.com/clown

  14. Jack Edwards Says:

    I admire anyone who tries their hand at a villanelle. I know from experience how difficult they are. And to write one on such a delicate topic is very brave but done brilliantly.

    Here is my entry:
    http://jackedwardspoetry.blogspot.com/2011/09/scribbles.html

  15. Morning Says:

    admirable job…

    🙂

  16. fiveloaf Says:

    great villanelle manic! you did a good job! my entry.. http://fiveloaf.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/lines/

  17. CC Champagne Says:

    Really gripping! And on a very difficult subject too!


  18. This is wonderful and I do not know much about poetry and just like to write. I will have to do some research on this forum to understand it more. But your poem really touched me so much and I am so happy that you shared this with me
    http://gatelesspassage.com/2011/09/08/the-crimson-witch/

  19. Caledoniapoems Says:

    Great poem – thanks for sharing 😉


  20. :speechless:
    :tears:
    Thank you

  21. ShonEjai Says:

    A great tribute on the anniversary of this tragic event.

  22. Nate Says:

    a very nice tribute..


  23. While I continue to mourn the mounting losses of 9/11 I admire the resilience of poets to reflect and turn loss into art. Let us not forget.

    Cheers,

    Mark Butkus


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