Sunday, September 11, 2016

Special Feature: “On the skyline, there are stars” by John C. Mannone, Frequent Contributor



On the skyline, there are stars
John C. Mannone
After "Memorial Lights" by Robert Wirth

Last night, thunder-rain pummeled
the great trees: leaves on the ground
and broken branches.

September ushers in the fall
and hurricanes, and storms.

This morning, the birds were quiet
and in their moments of silence
I could hear the names of the fallen
sparrows.

September ushers in the fall
and hurricanes, and storms.

This afternoon, I saw towers
of clouds lean into the wind
before they dissipated into sky.

No longer is there fire-and-ash
rising, or the billows of hatred,
only shafts of light, soft and blue,
like ether—the soul of the city.

September ushers in the fall
and hurricanes, and storms

but also Rosh Hashanah
and atonement. I think of Christ
and His birth this time of year
(not Christmas), and the hope

this Prince will bring
when He returns: Peace on Earth
and all the good will we need.

Tonight, the stars kneel, I see
their hearts scintillate the horizon,
each one a prayer,

all three thousand of them.

Poet's Notes:  I wrote a poem every day during a writing marathon in September 2015. Before I turned out the lights just before midnight on the 10th, I knew what I had to do in the morning but I was reticent to do it. When the morning of the 11th arrived, I didn’t know if I could make that much emotional investment again to write a 9-11 poem but I felt compelled to do it.

I awakened early, wrestled in the morning breeze sifting through the screen door. I smelled the after-storm of a gully-washer that we had throughout the night—it infused the air. And the wrenching I had endured from that act of terrorism fourteen years earlier was still deeply, yet strangely ensconced in my heart. When I left the house, I saw the storm “debris”—the scattered branches and leaves, the tumbled garbage cans, the imagined birds in distress. And while I was driving to Knoxville an hour to the north, I got additional glimpses for the poem—especially the towering cumulus clouds leaning from upper level winds pushing into them.

Later, when I looked at a photograph, “Memorial Lights” by Robert Wirth, everything fell into place (in yet an unexplained way), and “On the skyline, there are stars” was born.  (See http://cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-get/I0000r6rkO0gRbng/s/850/850/911-memorial-lights.jpg).

Editor’s Note:  This poem works as ekphrastic and stand-alone.  It is a beautiful elegy for the fallen of September 11, 2001.  I especially appreciate the message of hope and remembrance at the end. “On the skyline, there are stars” was a finalist in last year's Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest.  

As a side note, Rosh Hashanah falls in October this year but often falls in September, depending upon the lunar calendar followed by the Jews.  

A further side note:  Since "Memorial Lights" is under copyright, only a link to it could be provided--it could not be published here. 

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