In 2002 I was asked to write a poem in reaction to the September 11th – terrorist attack in New York City. Most people who know me know that I really have a great appreciation for New York and for its people. I’ve been there many times and I love it because of the art, the food, the people, the architecture, and so many other things – like the food! Go to Katz Delicatessen if you have a chance; it’s where they shot one scene from “When Harry Met Sally”, and the sandwiches are delicious and full-filling! (I digress once again). I won’t go on-and-on with this because I want to make this about the poem. Well anyway, it was published in the book: “Canada & September 11: Impact and Responses”. I think this really sums up my feelings about the whole incident and compares it to the contact period the First Nations’ had with the European colonizers.
New York City Dream
I heard the ringing of the telephone,
It woke me from a morning dream, and
The voice said, “turn on the television!”
Still groggy from this wake up call
I stumbled in to my living room
And fumbling with the remote control
I tuned it-on-to-a-night-mar-ish scene,
And saw the world come tumbling down,
New York, new york – old death.
They also heard the ringing telephones,
And saw it all on the television,
And could not believe their eyes,
So they called their friends to talk about it,
And they all talked about it,
From one home on the reservation,
To the one next door then next door again,
Until all who wanted to talk about it, did.
They all said or asked and wondered,
“What are we going to do, what are they going to do?
Get on with our lives, I guess that’s the best thing,
But we live next door to the biggest oil companies in Canada;
Could our homes be next?”
The world comes tumbling down,
The alarms sounded and moments, minutes
Began tocking, ticking, tolling.
We all heard the sirens ringing, singing
Many songs of death, alive
Through miles of cables
From ground controls to satellites, images
Beamed in to all our homes.
The horror and the sorrow.
Unspeakable noise, sounds and sights
Of fire, of clouds of dust and tiny bits of glass,
Of devastation, of death, DEATH
And shards of lives forever crushed,
Scattered to the ends of the earth, beginning
At the billowing piles of smoke, signals
We all saw, still see
That the world is tumbling, tumbling, down,
Crashing, smashing, bashing,
Washing away any thoughts
Of peace at home or peace of mind.
What reality is this?
Who could have done such a thing?
Why is it happening to us? Why?
Where is all of our security?
Who is looking out for us?
Questions, thoughts, words
In anguish, voices filled with pain,
Looks of disbelief, anger and hatred,
All mixed, intertwined,
People, countries coming together,
Gathering, talking, planning,
Retaliation, retribution, retrogression.
And the world comes tumbling down, down, down.
History continues to re-write it-self.
Columbus, Cortez, Cartier,
They all had their voice, still
Their stories ring out, unheard
Our ancestor’s stories are going, gone, times
Though when we speak
Clearly, directly, and every word
Is annunciated precisely,
Not too loud and not too soft,
But the oral tradition is lost;
Deaf ears hear but have no soul.
The stories spin with life, cycles, circles around,
The wheels turn
And leave ruts, run, a trail
Through trees in an ancient land, modern
Voices which still talk about the first white men
Who set foot on this great continent,
Who built their dreams on the red graves
Of all the devastated, destroyed, desecrated
So called pagan souls, Christian thoughts
Of our ancestors, their graves are now your graves,
The world did tumble down up-on-us,
But we rebuilt our lives and so to will you, and
The world will be a better place.
Frederick R. McDonald….