Treasure Island

David McLansky

(5/24/1944 / New York City)

9/11


They told us all 'to just stay put, '
Breathing ashes and blackened soot,
'Put a towel against the door, '
'Wet it first, put it on the floor; '
'The Firemen were on the way, '
That's what 911 said that day;
But I've always had an ornery streak,
When told to obey and to be meek,
We were told to wait in that fiery din;
'Be patient, the firemen were coming in; '
But I rebelled; I could not sit still,
I would not cling to the windowsill,
I was tired of always following orders,
I had to think of my two daughters;
So for once I dared to rebel
To exit from that burning hell;
As in the fires of Serengeti,
In whirling smoke and wild confetti,
I held a towel to my face,
A savage in a human race;
Through the choking smoke and fire
Stumbling in the twisting gyre,
Blindly, pushing, through the smell
I made it to the South stairwell;
I joined a mob of screams and cries,
Of burnt white shirts and silken ties;
Of torn pants suits and sooted skirts,
The stairway lights flashing on alert;
Rebels all we descended
Heedless of whom we offended;
In the crowd a woman fell,
Who she was I could not tell,
Yet I stopped to help her up,
How odd she held a coffee cup;
Down and down we stumbled down,
A woman wore a wedding gown,
In the stink and smoke and fire,
Careless of our ruined attire,
We stumbled downward in our haste,
Our only thought to escape;
We met the firemen coming up,
Our downward flow slowed abrupt;
We let them pass, they let us pass,
Above we heard a roaring crash;
From above fell chunks of debris,
We ran downward one thought to flee;
But the firemen shoved us to run up,
Anger flared, some were cuffed;
We pushed downward amid the screams
We heard the wail of police sirens;
And suddenly I was in the lobby,
My knees were shaken, my steps were wobbly;
I was led away cut and bruised,
I realized I had lost my shoes;
I staggered barefoot up the street,
In a rain of paper sheets;
Whose files these were I didn't know,
But they all came down like scattered snow;
I was ushered on by waving cops,
'Head North! ' they shouted, I didn't stop
I saw a priest give a man extreme unction,
In the middle of a cross street junction;
I was alive, I had rebelled,
I walked Northward from that evil smell.

Submitted: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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  • Jayatissa K. Liyanage (7/15/2014 4:52:00 AM)

    Very well portrayed a pinch of what happened on Sept 11th in USA. I can visualize the sort of mentality you were in at that moment. I have read many poems etc written on this incident by many, for sharing experience. What I cannot believe is that, prior to this far too many westerners just could not hear the voice of millions of innocents who were victims of terrorism that was going on for many decades. Only after 09/11 many could feel what it was like. Where ever terrorism occur, immaterial of where it is, whole world should stand against it in one voice. Will this happen, at least in the future Mr. Poet? (Report) Reply

  • Susan Lacovara (2/19/2014 8:11:00 PM)

    Revisiting the events of that horrific day, painful, and yet it needs be resurrected, in heart and mind, that we never forget...I invite you to read a few selections of my poems on th subject of 9/11...After The Towers Fell, Reflections, and Take Cover. Your storytelling is honest, poignant, heartbreaking familiar for a New Yorker, such as myself, who still feels that extreme loss of innocence. Thank you for sharing. As always, I end with a wish of PEACE (Report) Reply

  • Sara G (12/3/2013 8:00:00 PM)

    Hi Mr. McLansky. I am doing a project for social studies and it is a recitation. I wanted to use your poem and was wondering if you were a witness of 9/11 perhaps in one of the two buildings. Thank you! I love the poem! (Report) Reply

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