Cover Syndic No.18 “Remembering 9/11”
Syndic Literary Journal

“1 & 2” ∼ Page 5 ∼ by J.H. Johns & Paul Churchill Mann

Photo by Dariusz Pacak

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

Can it really
come to an end
like that;
standing around,
having coffee,
working the computer,
while on the telephone;
can it really
come to an end
like that;
making plans,
taking a break,
riding the elevator,
looking out the window;
can it really
come to an end
like that;
popping in
doing business,
gazing at photos,
going to the bathroom;
can it really
come to an end
like that;
shouldn’t it be different,
shouldn’t it be expected,
shouldn’t it be later;
can it really
come to an end
like that?
We have trouble
saying, yes.

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

The phone rang;
“You better turn on
the television-
something has happened”-
I surfed
for moments
before settling in on
Channel Nine;
I sat
on the edge of the bed
trying to figure out
how it could
have happened;
an air-traffic
control failure-
an accident-
they told us
as we watched
the smoke pour out.
I asked myself.
“On such a
catastrophically grand scale?”
“How can that be,
what makes
such failure possible?”
I was asking myself
when the second plane hit.
And, then,
in the spectacle of their double-billowing,
we understood
in reality
what we never dreamed
would happen-
it was no accident…

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

For those of us
who had been there
or near there
or seen them-
up close or from a distance-
we now share a last time.
Our own special last time,
private in instance,
shared in kind;
the last time
we were at the top,
in an office,
in a tower;
the last time
we rode an elevator,
walked through the lobby,
shopped on the concourse,
rode the subway;
the last time
we were in the plaza,
on the street;
looking up;
the last time
we saw them
from the Narrows,
Breezy Point,
Ocean Parkway-
coming down the hill
from Marathon Parkway
on 61st Avenue;
thinking now,
searching, sorting,
trying to unscramble
when exactly
was the very last time.

J. H. Johns
(Copyright © J. H. Johns 2017)

They stood phantom-like;
ignored but acknowledged,
ridiculed but loved,
always a part of us,
always apart from us;
we counted on them
to be there
every time we looked up
or out or over.
They were a home
for those who worked there,
they meant a home
for those who struggled
to come and see;
they were
beacons of the spirit
and symbols of the dream-
we will miss them.


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March 2018
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