September 9, 2011

POEMS OF 9/11/01

                                        (c) 2001 Sharon Bateman Buttaci


beneath the rubble and debris
down the shafts of steel and concrete
far from autos yet abandoned
past grey clouds of soot and dust
below the boots of feet still shuffling
crushed against the tumbled walls
only God can hear the moaning
see the souls drift to the light

someone calls out to an old friend
but the old friend can't reply
and the day grows old to nightfall
all the weary trudge on home
but down beneath the broken sidewalk
in the darkness of ground zero
only God can hear the moaning
see the souls drift to the light

one by one He guides them upward
past the billows of thick smoke
one by one they say, "Forgive them,"
and like night birds fly to freedom
fly these souls above the city
to a heaven celebrating
someone calls out to an old friend
to an old friend recognized

oh, the joy of souls rejoicing
as they dance in God's Good Light.

© 2001 Salvatore Buttaci


How blessed you are to have found God again!
Eighty-four stories high in what was once
the World Trade Center. Outside your window
pulverized stone hailed down from clouds blazing
red-blue on a Tuesday morning, and slabs
of concrete falling from the upper floors
you learned later were trapped workers
who would not wait for death
hand in hand plunging from fiery windows.

For the first time in years you said your prayers,
called God's name, prayed away your fears
of perishing there, then with the others
calmly took to the stairs down towards
ground-level freedom. Through the smoke and dust
you imagined you saw angels, ghostly
white, ascending the stairs towards you,
but they were firefighters crowned with
sooty helmets, oxygen tanks strapped on
their backs like wings-- heroes racing to their deaths
in a desperate futile rush to save lost lives.

You don't say much in your mourning.
Memories are painful to express.
It will take time before you walk
those New York streets again,
but in all your quiet moments
safe at home, you thank the God
Who saved you. You pray. You pray.

© 2001 Salvatore Buttaci


Don't say, "It's over now. Leave this place.
Go home." Don't shake your heads convinced
we won't find a living soul beneath
this man-made hell. We will go on
passing buckets hand to hand.
We will not leave the wounded buried here.
With all our strength we'll go on digging.

Underneath the surface of the street
lost in a tall heap of collapsed floors
tower victims are waiting to be saved.
They hear our shovels clang against
the glass and steel of tumbled walls.
They're holding on; they know we're near.
With all our faith we won't stop digging.

Don't say how we sacrifice our time
and sweat sifting through the rubble
as if we, not these buried, were true heroes.
We do not dig because we are brave;
we dig because we are afraid
to walk away. At night in sleep
we hear their pleas and we tremble.

There are people still alive here.
Don't hold your breath that we will quit.
With all we've got we'll stand our ground;
we'll go on digging

© 2001 Salvatore Buttaci 


In a room dark as cobalt blue
Lady Sorrow will sit
with the gentleman Grief.
From the same deep cup
they'll sip with quivering mouths
the bitter tea of loss and longing.
"My heart breaks again,"
Sorrow will say to her love,
but Grief will not reply.
With trembling hand he'll toss
away a waste of words;
he'll remind here where they are.
How misfortune sealed their love.
Then into the empty cup he'll pour again.

© 2001 Salvatore Buttaci


America, how proud we are
to be counted among your children!
Mother and father to us all,
you have nurtured us since birth.
When we fall, you raise us up,
tend to our scrapings, teach us right
from wrong, make us unafraid.

America, how glad we are
to be your loving sons and daughters!
In history's darkest hours
you have placed upon our shoulders
the stars and stripes forever.
Like a shawl against the elements,
your flag has kept us warm and brave.

America, how blessed we are
to walk the streets of this great land!
Protector of your citizens,
you turn back the brandished swords
upon those who try to steal our freedom.
Sweet America, angel mine,
under your wing, keep us free from harm.

© 2001 Salvatore Buttaci


A flag in the window,
some candles on the step.
A neighbor cries easily now.
He tells us, "I cannot leave
my brothers resting there.
I will pick my way past
jagged steel and listen
for their whispers climbing
from the ruins."

A flag in the window,
some candles on the step.
A little girl kisses
the framed picture of
her smiling father.
She and her brother
want to know,
"When is Daddy coming home?"
In the other room Mommy gags
her tears into a handkerchief.

A flag in the window,
some candles on the step.
A survivor races
from the fallen tower
like a grey statue come to life,
then races back to save
a stranger. "She was lying there,
dazed and bleeding," he says.
"I carried her out but
she died in my arms."

A flag in the window,
some candles on the step.
A Tuesday-morning moment
changes our lives forever.
Now we question our own laughter,
we own up to our mortality,
and while the TV flashes
scenes from hell, you and I hold hands
to keep from feeling lonely.

© 2001 Salvatore Buttaci


I will remember you
for as long as I live
though your footsteps
are silent now

once I could know you
by the sound of your walking
I could expect soon
there would be laughter

who would've believed
our world would change
that in the madness of a morning
I would lose you

in the clearing of smoke
in the smoldering ashes
the small voice of hope
says only this: Life goes on

I will remember you
for as long as I live
though your photographs
are all I have

who would've thought
death could force itself
upon our joy
hush forever the kindest heart

the patter of footsteps
laughter loud as song
echo down the twists and turns
of my courage

I will never forget you
I will live on
though I walk alone
I will be strong

© 2001 Salvatore Buttaci

Salvatore Buttaci is the author of two short-short story collections published by All Things That Matter Press and available at in book and Kindle editions.
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Buttaci lives in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia with his angel wife Sharon.

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