9/11, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

9/11

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

I remember being told school was letting out early—

Parents were coming to pick up their children—

A plane had flown into the World Trade Center

And another was circling somewhere—

We all looked up as we handed the students to their families—

We all felt the shock of a national emergency out of nowhere–

We all moved to our cars with uncertain, fragile steps,

Still looking towards the sky—

And then, by the time we had arrived home, another plane crashed into the Pentagon,

And another in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, not too far from Pittsburgh—

For the rest of the day we huddled around televisions

And radios—and we asked confused questions—stunned questions—

Allah would never—questions—

 

Two days later when we were permitted to return to school

We pondered deeply what to tell our students—

How could we even come close to eulogizing so many?

How could we explain, with any sense at all, what had happened,

Not to mention why?

 

My fourth graders and I had a frank, tearful, and frightened discussion—

“Why?” they asked.

“They were sick people,” I said.

“They are evil people,” they said.

“Maybe,” I said, “they were sick, that is what I believe.  No well person does things like that.”

“Why did they do it?  What could they gain from doing that?”

“I do not know,” I said, “I do not know.”

“Can we get sick like them?”

“No,” I said, “Never.”

 

We held a long, trembling moment of silence.

We prayed openly for the victims and their families,

We prayed long and hard for the first responders and rescue workers,

We prayed for the dogs still sniffing for survivors,

We prayed it never happens again.

One student asked: “Should we pray for those who did this?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “Do whatever feels right for you.  There is no wrong prayer.

Your question is beautiful.”

And then one student, the smallest kid in the class,

With a voice that quivered like the branch of an autumn tree,

Said with holy conviction:

 

“If I were on those planes, I would have stopped those people—

I would have found a way.”

 

Later, we went out to the big field for recess,

Still looking towards the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Untelling the Lies, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Untelling the Lies

By

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

 

All poetry

Fesses up

To something.

No matter

If you, the composer,

Sing of witches,

City streets,

Serbian atrocities,

Mountains, or rivers.

You reveal something

Of yourself

That cannot be easily hidden

To the naked eye

And ear.

You can try

To compose

Anonymously,

But that is like

Your breath

Being anonymously breathed

From your own lungs.

I write of aliens, fireflies,

Roots, little epiphanies,

And sometimes

Poems funnel

Through about being

Intersex and trans,

But in each and every word,

Each coma, line-spacing,

And pause, you see

Me, and know a little bit more

About me.

Let go of whether

Or not your songs

Are confessional—merely

Confessional.

You cannot prevent your poems

From showing

Your hand

Any more than you can

Stop pain

From reflecting itself

In your eyes.

So go ahead,

Speak to us.

Admit things

About yourself

That can be cleverly

Couched in syllables

And roots.  Tell us

Who you are—

It is important,

And in doing so

You are helping vulnerability

Become as common place

As shame, and, with any luck,

Even more so.

For in the same way

You cannot conceal

Yourself between the lines

Or the words,

You cannot shirk

From the responsibilities

Writing them brings either.

You see, you and I,

Each has their own sets

Of responsibilities and reasons

As to why and when and how

We write, and, over time,

We must discover what those are

Because no matter what

They are—they are ultimately moral

And in need of fulfilling,

Just as water fulfills the ocean.

Every poem ever written

Fesses up to something.

So proclaim.

Expel demons.

Revolutionize.

Attest to resiliency.

Steel entire nations

Against storms of dryness.

And as you breathe life

Into lines and symbols,

Resuscitating the word–

You

Are shedding

Light,

As a snake sheds skin.

Only the light you shed sonars

Into the atmosphere

Revealing obstacles here

Or there for others to avoid,

Keeping in mind

Some obstacles

Are as necessary

As kisses.

In other words:

People are watching, waiting, listening,

For you to speak—

To speak some truth

They always needed to hear,

But only now, from you, can.

With every poem

You write, you are helping

Each of us unlearn

What we should have

Never learned.

You are helping

Destroy the world

Of a loneliness that is pandemic,

And helping create

Soul-expanding

Congruencies between people

Of all shapes, sizes, genders,

Races, ethnic backgrounds, ages,

Economic statuses, and political leanings.

Look around.

See how much beauty

There is,

How much light

Comes to you

Or that you believe you

Draw down, or through,

Or up-from

Yourself—

It doesn’t matter

What you believe

About the origins of the revelation,

What matters is

You shine yourself to yourself,

And, more importantly,

You shine to others.

That is how we expose the lies

That need untelling.

That is how we exercise shame

Into its rightful place

Of gone.

That is how we become

Who we always secretly wanted

To be.

 

 

 


 

 


Thank you for supporting my continued transition.  Yours, Radiance <3