Jeffrey McDaniel

Rookie (1967 / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

The Day It Rained Splinters - Poem by Jeffrey McDaniel

Lady Liberty, I understand your confusion, watching
that first plane smash into the skyscraper, but surely

you could've swatted the second one from the air,
or at least leaned forward and caught the people

who leaped. They jumped as humans and landed
like meat. If only we'd put a hose in your fingers,

not a torch, you could've doused the flames. And where
was God? Perhaps blessing some other country

for a change, as our fifty lucky stars sank into us
like shark's teeth. The sky was a big black cloud,

and the cloud had feet. Now the celestial scoreboard
reads: Allah 1, God 0. Soon the blood will flow,

but with so much dirt in our throats, how can revenge
taste sweet? Carnage Asada is what they served

in the voluptuous borough of grief, lifting the hem
of mayhem, feeding us a glimpse up the skirt of eternity.

Photos of the missing taped to every phone booth.
Operator, call Batman, tell him we're stuck

in the first act of a blockbuster, and there's no
normal to return to. Normal is entombed in the debris,

the l demolished like a building, the O a fireman's mouth
opened in scream, as F-15's scrape like the nails

of a prostitute down the sky's chalkboard. What
yardstick gets used to secure a measured response?

Already scuba divers have plunged into the melting
pot. I hope they dig with sacred shovels, for there are spirits

in that rubble, the closest thing we have to holy
land. But maybe those buildings were phoenixes. Doesn't

our language suggest that mess is merely a stop
on the way to messiah? Before squashing all Arabs

into a sentence, like a four syllable word, with only
one meaning, we should see what becomes of the ashes.

Maybe a dab of those cinders will make irises
bloom in the retinas of the blind, hair sprout

on a bald man's scalp, tulips erupt through
sidewalk cracks. I mean, haven't they already

succeeded in making compassion gush from
the tough leather of every New Yorker's heart?

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, February 14, 2008

Poem Edited: Friday, February 15, 2008

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