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A decade later, where the ground of the World Trade Center in New York has become a battlefield of racist exclusion, monuments filled with hubris (it’s 1776’ high!), opportunities for gentrifying nearby Chinatown, or simply more Class-A office space for the capitalists, this image pictures only the voids that were left. This is a poem I wrote sometime after 9-11:

To begin the world anew,

you begin with what you know:

you begin by picking up the pieces.

Wood. Metal. Stone. Glass.

You begin by picking up the pieces.

The discarded husks of houses,

rusting metal car chassis, what was once a garden

overgrown with ivy, needles and newspapers.

He was there when the planes hit,

looking for his captain, about to go in,

when the shadows lengthened into blackness

and took him out. And picking himself up,

he went back into what was left, and

for months he was there, picking up pieces

of bodies and memories and sorrows and I love yous

whispered into cell phones still lost in the smoke

and so many of those pieces got encrusted in his

skin, like splinters or glass shards, he can

no longer sleep.

And while bombs rain on villages again, and

mines take out the legs of children somewhere else,

and famine sets in our hearts again,

we the living do the only thing we can:

we begin by picking up the pieces.