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9/11 [R]


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When I saw the photos and images,

the actual handheld vidos,

the arising, almost cloudlike

expanding pillar of smoke,

I remember thinking “Dear God,

“some bad things,

”some very bad things are bound to happen”.


Well, I was right about that.

What I couldn't quite understand

was why so many Americans were paralyzed

and in shock, as it were. Get a grip!

But this never happens in the US of A.

Get a life. Take a look around

this dying planet we live upon


and tell me why, in seven words or less,

why should you be different?

This does not take away from the pain,

the near-total shock nd anger

of suddenly missing wives and husbands,

children, friends, and lovers.

Nothing can ever repair that damage.


But we must liveand understand

that we exist in this fragile world togther,

threatened by climate change,

by bombs and terrorists,

by every single goddam thing,

and that flag-waving nationalist wars

are really a thing of the past,

and no need for wild swipes at Iraq.


We live in a fragile stage

of frozen freedom

set up in the defense of freedom

and policed by a shower of idiots,

who make J. Edgar Hoover look good.

Temporarily, as in Prohibition times,

the red-faced special agents run around


arresting innocents, our friends,

sometimes ourselves, maintaining

we cannot be patriots. At the American Embassy

I was blandly asked if I supported the US Constitution

and I replied I didn’t have to, as a citizen of a different

sovereign nation. This went down like starchy glue.

And then they wanted to know if I’d been a member


of a terrorist organization, as if the ‘Minute Men’

near Boston had never existed, and I said ‘No’, because …

how on earth could they ever begin to prove it

and so they grudgingly let me in. America, the Yanks,

our best frinds in the world, but this fff shit is what you get.

Never mind, once you get in, the people are brilliant,

one of my favourite countries in the world.


Not France, not Switzerland nor Bavaria?

Shut up for now. This is important.


And so it came about, you do what you do,

and you can’t help notice the changes.

People don’t talk as they used to do

and there are no longer any lengthy diatribes

and the TV keeps the party alive

until people look at their watches at nine

and jump in their cars and go home.


When you live in a certain place,

be kind and soft, but speak your mind;

and when you visit another land, be kind,

but keep your mouth shut tight within your face

until the light of the morning sun arises

and falls in its warmth and gentle blessing,

and it’s time to get up, go, and get along.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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who make J. Edgar Hoover look good


Sad -- the observation & the truth. Poignant and heartfelt piece.

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Yes, yes, and yes. The exceptionalism of americans is fairly unexceptional;-) We grow up believing that our culture is the 'one, true and only' and then we 'grow up.' Except, here there is a war on growing up, we have been infantilized, and in my opinion, quite deliberately, so that the spectacle will always open us to greater forms of control because we don't know the difference between 'real' and 'not real.' The digital exceptionalism now coming to dominate is no different, ever more delicacy in our thoughts, a little wind and so many will crumble- And the storm is on the way...



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. Deleted.

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... once you get in, the people are brilliant,

one of my favourite countries in the world ...


Agreed. One of my favorites, too!


... Now shutting up.


No need to shut up, Franklin. I've added the appropriate content warning to the title line of Brendan's work.



Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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I say I'll shut up but I rarely do. Sooner or later even the walls talk back, not infrequently with better arguments.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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David W. Parsley

Agreed, it could be seen as an opinion piece with line breaks, Paco, if it weren't for the closing stanzas which are kind of nicely brought off.


and tell me why, in seven words or less,

why should you be different?


... The exceptionalism of americans is fairly unexceptional;-) We grow up believing that our culture is the 'one, true and only' and then we 'grow up.' ...


Granted: allocating seven words to clear up the fallacies of seven hundred is perhaps unrealistic, but I would like to try. Without scheduling a surgery for setting broken logic and grafting over gaps in baffling connections, I would like to just address the American exceptionalism question, and why we find it a tad jarring to have institutions and innocents deliberately incinerated on our soil. Here goes:


1. Anti-caste/royalty

2. Enforced law

3. Amendable constitution

4. Ballots

5. Faith

6. A track record of righting our wrongs and going on to new ones, the next challenges to our sense of decency and compassion, our burning desire to see that the Revolutionary zeal of our forefathers should not be complacent, much less in vain, and that this resolve should guide or mis-guide us in an unquenchable mission to oppose tyranny and cruelty at every responsibly accepted opportunity (we hope and, yes, still pray so), crossing oceans with our own valiant young to pick up our allies in the cause, to restore with justice and even-handedness access to food and shelter, rebuild what was torn down with a renewed aspect alive with the gleamings of liberty and democratic potential, to feed and comfort the nations without compromising our mutual dignity, knowing that our might must be wielded to uphold the weak and that we cannot afford to be less than mighty for evil constantly recurs and the weak fall before them ... Darn. I knew I couldn't do it in seven. And I was just getting started. I suppose the first five points will have to do. ;-)


Option B: USA is exceptional because it must be.


Sincerely (Never Grew Up),

- Dave

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American exceptionalism has nothing to do with 'peoples reactions' to 9/11. That is all true. No exceptionalism is when we declare a war on a country which had nothing to do with 9/11 (Yes Saddam was a bad man but he paid with his life) and then we systematically killed over 100'000 people who had nothing to do with the twin towers, destroyed their country's infrastructure, so that the final death toll of civilians will be in the millions, moved on to another country where we once again started killing civilians and military 'kids' who had little choice in their career options and were working for the power structure the USA put into place (to fight the Soviet Red Menace) And then dismantled constitutional guarantees at home and allowed corporations to take over everything and in the process dismantle the American Dream for millions AND somehow justify these egregious crimes as being part and parcel of 'Being an American.' That's exceptionalism, a willful denial of horror committed in our name and to question it has become deeply unpatriotic.


Dedalus has made a compelling piece about the way (some) others perceive us. The number of people I've met who are surprised by what 'brilliant people' we are, to the point of wanting to become US citizens, I've met is informative. Growing up outside of propaganda stream, they assumed that American's were all power hungry greedy bastards, just like our foreign policy ( Most WW2 survivors have passed) but upon meeting 'We the people' are thrilled how 'we' believe in all those things you mentioned and they want to become part of a culture that believes in those things, having grown up as Franklin points out, realizing the atrocities their countries/cultures have committed. American exceptionalism is the willful denial of what our our country has done, now and in the past. As I said its fairly unexceptional, everyone does it for a time in their respective cultures.


I find it deeply in opposition (personally) to the core principals of the American Dream: The pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. I've spent a great portion of my life wishing I could become willfully ignorant, and go back to my childhood acceptance of everything USA, But I can't, and for me its at least partially because I was brought up believing strongly in the American Dream, which to me involves equality for everyone (regardless of borders and happenstance of birth) and the genuine pursuit of Liberty, which is a better life.


So I never grew up either. I have a naive belief in the fundamental goodness of people, and their desire for a better life for themselves and their families. And it makes me sick when wrapped in the US dollar or the American Flag people are denied that right either by death or impoverishment.




(who may take a break from PMO again, because an honest response to poetry has inspired some kind of questioning of my integrity (In PM) and once again I'm reminded that McCarthy was an amateur when it comes to witch hunts, compared to now)

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Much to digest here, both in the piece itself and subsequent comments.The world has changed greatly in a very short time; with new technological knowledge, vibrantly coursing through every land on the globe at an alarming pace. Unfortunately, established human traits will not change accordingly. We seem to have reached a juncture, where respective cultures and governments cannot escape an overbearing fact: that in this modern world... there are only “haves” and “have nots” who it seems.. grate and slip like tectonic plates with all the resultant chaos. Benjamin.


P.S. I also believe in the fundamental goodness of people and their basic desire (right) for a better life for themselves and their families.

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David W. Parsley

Apologies, Doc, no question on your integrity here. Just another honest response among the others. I like the vigor of our poetry and responses on PMO. Perhaps my zeal was excessive in this case. If you wonder where I am with your views on recent actions taken against our own liberties and our handling of non-declared wars, take another pass through What the Future Dares: we're in agreement.


My poorly made point above was that we are accustomed to being the ones who go out in our righteous might, redressing wrongs exacted upon other folks; not finding ourselves in such a compromised state of helpless victimization and uncertainty. In my opinion, that's the source of our unseemly qualm and outrage. And, yes, I do find it connected to our (perhaps naive) sense of exceptionalism.


Keep the Faith (and the Dialogue!),

- Dave

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Absolutely no reason to apologize. We are all passionate about our POV, and I have the greatest respect for my fellow poets, here on PMO. I just returned from the unitarian camp Unirondack, one of my favorite bits there is the hour and a half of adult discussion. We need more of that in this world. People just talking and expressing their opinions and examining their 'truths.'


I am very gratified to find that kind of community here.


My deepest respect and admiration to you all.



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I find that the Comments section has become more interesting than the original poem, which can be seen as a mere catalyst for a remarkably civilized and thoughtful exchange of views. This is a rather humbling prospect for me as the casual instigator of such exchanges, who now feels he should spend a lot more time in composition and getting the balance more nearly right before posting willy-nilly to the forum. As to the forum itself, it has risen a great deal in my estimation over the several years I have been a member. This is due not only to the quality of the core membership but to the example set by Tony's quietly controlling hand.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Brendan, I appreciate the kind compliment, but I want to stress that we have an exceptional group here. Everyone's submissions and participation are terrific!


Tony :happy:

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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This seemed very appropriate considering the discussion inspired by Brendan on list & by PM: I belong to a poem-a-day list run by Larry Robinson in Sebastopol. Normally he has what I label as 'Non-dual' poetry but today: http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?/topic/3737-freedoms-plough-langston-hughes/


I think that is what a number of us were trying to say, with our own provisos, of course;-)


I highly recommend Larry's list, best poetry I read outside of this forum...





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