Twenty Years On

This is not real. We’ve seen it all before.
Slow down, you’re screaming. What exploded? When?
I guess this means we’ve got ourselves a war.
And look at — Lord have mercy, not again.
I heard that they went after Air Force One.
Call FAA at once if you can’t land.
They say the bastards got the Pentagon.
The Capitol. The White House. Disneyland.
I was across the river, saw it all.
Down Fifth, the buildings put it in a frame.
Aboard the ferry — we felt awful small.
I didn’t look until I felt the flame. …

That’s the beginning of “110 Stories,” by John M. Ford, the best piece of writing about September 11, 2001 that I know of. He had finished it by that autumn. Read it on something bigger than a phone’s screen; the layout matters.

Introducing the poem when she published it in August 2002, Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote, “Someday I’ll be able to read it without crying.” Today is not that day for me.

Ford passed away in September 2006, much, much too soon. Here is an initial collection of tributes.

Permanent link to this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.