Posted tagged ‘from New Yorker poem’

To Jeb Bush Who Says We Were Kept Safe (from a New Yorker)

September 22, 2015

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To Jeb Bush Who Says We Were Kept Safe (From a New Yorker)

I did not feel it.  Not even as I shut
the windows tight, rolling towels into the gutted
frames, could I escape the smell, the pall
that slithered through the towels, the foul
breath of burning plastic, exhalation of steel
and swivel chair, melt of carpeting, and, against our skin, the feel
of flesh made smoke, ash griming the reflection
of all those posters, pleas for resurrection
headlined “Missing,” as if a person known
to have worked in the South Tower had just gone
for a walk, amnesiac or spree–
Don’t get me wrong–I could not breathe–
but I’ve earned
no right to complain–I was not burned
by a fire ball–

Not even when off the buses
they jogged, assault rifles shouldered without fuss
onto Canal, their camo so uncamo
in a city that wears black, their ammo
rounding chests already plaqued with bullet-
proof vests, faces young as pullets–
the few whiskers, crescent brows, strands
of feather post-pluck–not even as they ran
down the subway stairs in a continuous
booted line, uniforms pleating sinuously
about ridged belts, bulked thighs,
and I, stopping one GI, asked why,
are you here
?
and she replied, muzzle a diagonal to bunned hair,
to keep you safe–

Nope.  Not then.  Not that whole year
nor some years more–not, certainly, in the grand export of fear–
new carpetings of fire balls, new reasons
for retribution–no, not in that season
nor in the heft of its poisonous web,
dear Jeb, did we feel
kept safe–

**************************

A bit of a discursive rant here to Jeb Bush, running for the U.S. presidency, who, discussing his brother’s presidency in the recent GOP debated declared that “he kept us safe.”  I am not sure any president can avoid attacks and conflict, homegrown or brought from abroad, but Jeb’s comment seemed particularly disingenuous.   (I’m also not sure of those last two lines–whether I should simply write “we were not kept safe,” instead of alluding to how we felt, but am somehow a little too superstitious to write it like that.  This process note has been edited since Rosemary’s comment below.) The photo is one of mine–all rights reserved. 

Am posting to Real Toads Open Platform.  Check out the wonderful poets there.