In a place where if you can make it there
You can make it anywhere,
Hate melted steel.
Hate evaporated dreams.
Eliminated the future.
Negated the beautiful baby that could have been
And wasted the wondrous gift of potential of those already born.
On that glorious day, full of promise
And anticipation for a thrilling rush of action and adventure that only the Center of the World could offer,
The thrill was not
Getting cross town in one piece, on the cheap.
The action was not
Closing the deal,
Trading the market for prop desk pennies, or
Finally winning three card Monte.
Adventure was not
Buying a Rolex in front of Macys or
The forty dollar burger at 21, expensed,
Nor a perfectly tailored suit at Paul Stuart.
Not even scoring a perfectly laced bit of heroin
Or arranging a tryst at The Plaza.
The thrill became a frantic call for instructions on how to save your life.
Stay put. Help is coming.
But only from the grace of God
Who holds out the promise of eternal life.
The reality was a swan dive from the 40th floor after a cell phone goodbye.
Or burn to death.
The rush was a Pompeii ash-covered dash across a bridge,
Away from the collapse of Humanity.
The action was choosing to climb the stairs with your air tank and hose.
In a blue lagoon sky at 30,000 feet the All-American form of valor and resolve
Steeled to meet the hate straight up and take it down,
With forearms shielding off the slash of box cutters in the rush,
Lest there be one more petulant explosive purge
Of religious rage, where unknown.
Take the hit for the nation.
One Nation, under God,
With Liberty and Justice for all.
Let’s roll, one said—
An ordinary fellow, ordinary no longer
And extraordinary into eternity,
Who would stand as Man of the Year,
A symbolic proxy
For all his ordinary fellow passengers and crew,
Whether Time said so
And so a hallowed, sacred, scarred field
Was formed to forever celebrate
The memory of untrained, unarmed warriors
Who blunted hate with no more than
Resolve, reached through the innate understanding that
This cannot stand
And bravery born in part to the resignation of approaching death.
All this, while in a five-sided bunker dedicated to war, peace and security—
In what order no one remembers,
The unambiguous symbol for America’s military might is targeted perfectly by
Someone who never learned to land an airplane—
Just how to fly it,
As what was to become another missile
Buzzes the Interstate, providing motorists
A brief yet brilliant 3-D shot of the red, silver and blue weapon,
Maybe looking like red, white and blue in all of its speed,
Thus, creating a seminal personal horror
To pass down through their generations.
And inside the bunker the management of might is in progress.
Young Marines stand guard in elegant dress blues with red-striped trousers,
Uniforms that are too beautiful for war.
Middle management military, draped in bland tan
Work quietly and with purpose
While the Generals, decked out in fine-cut olive worsted
And the Admirals, resplendent in blue surge or virgin white,
All weighted down by
Medals of Valor, some won on the backs of young grunts
And some well-deserved,
Are chauffeured in golf carts.
There are civilians there, too;
The Raytheon rep, dignified in tropical weight charcoal,
Although he can no longer button the coat thanks to his entertainment budget.
No match for the young Marines erect in their finery.
The civilian staff wears what they always wear.
It is just another day at The Pentagon.
For all in the bunker, it is the uniform that defines you.
It is a wonder that the young Marines are not in charge.
But today the uniform is meaningless.
All may as well be swathed in feathers and scales.
Because they are all sitting ducks.
Fish in a barrel.
No one stood at attention to portray their indignation
At being before a firing squad.
There was no skirmish between the foes. No hand to hand combat.
No defensive or offensive maneuver.
Just one airplane pretending to be a heat seeking missile.
And then that awful, awful explosion of hate.
The rest is known.
On a beautiful, crisp early fall morning—
At 8:46 and horribly again at 9:03 to be exact,
In a place where if you can make it there
You can make it anywhere, hate melted steel.
While soon after, from a blue lagoon sky and in a five-sided bunker
The day continued, all this misanthropic mayhem signaling a New Time
And a New Way.
The rest is yet unknown, except that we are at war
Whether Time or anyone else says so