Saturday Poem / The Truth of Consequences

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Foreseeable or not, it made us

  wince the way that Kennedy’s

  public murder made us wince.

We headed for home exactly

  as we did four decades back.

We sat like mutes before

   a screen and watched.

                                               And watched.

Overnight, the President re-named

   America the “Homeland.”


   and travel by air became

   one and the same.


   competed to design the ultimate


                       Pulpit and public

   oratory droned like Muzak

   on demand.

                      Attempting to assuage,

   one mayor noted that three

   thousand victims numbered less

   than one month’s highway deaths

   across the country …

                                  But nothing

   could blur the filmed moment

   of impact, the slowly buckling

   floors and girders and glass,

   a blizzard of papers swirling

   in smoke, and finally two people

   out of thirty-nine who chose

   to jump instead of burn — a man

   and woman, probably co-workers,

   plummeting together hand-

   in-hand from the hundredth floor

   to ground zero at thirty-two

   feet per second per second.

Samuel Hazo is distinguished professor of English emeritus at Duquesne University and director of the International Poetry Forum (

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