“9/11” and “Risen Heroes”, poems by Oklahoma Poet Sharon Frye
“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.” President Barack Obama
I’ve never been able to write a poem about 9/11. I have a number started and starting is as far as I get. I was in California at the time, but New York is my home state, one of the great loves of my life, as is my country.
I was getting ready for work when I heard the news on TV. I stopped to watch. I remember the world stood still. I remember the slow surreal vison of a plane crashing into the North Tower. I’d watched the Towers being built when I worked on Water Street, just down the block. I’d also worked at One Wall Street, not too far away, and used to eat my lunches in the graveyard at Trinity Church, also close by. If my second husband were alive, he’d say that area around the Twin Towers was my old hunting ground. And it was and I loved the history there. I couldn’t imagine it shattered. “Put on the news. We’re being attacked … ” I said to my son when I got him on the phone.
Sharon wrote her poem as an immediate response to the tragedy and it honors emergency responders. It reflects honest emotion. I’m pleased she allowed me to share it here with you.
They started the day with
a stretch and a yawn, Coffee was downed, long
before dawn. Bacon and eggs, with a side
of light banter
Served straight up with
Out to check trucks, inspect
every pumper, A
nd test all the gear from
bumper to bumper.
Amidst conversations and
Came the call, then fast-
Quickly manned trucks hit the
Not knowing, but trusting,
what fate they’d meet.
They rolled from the station, a
little before nine,
Soon to grasp horror that
would change all time.
On the horizon, stood
our towers of trade
An inferno of hell and
people afraid, Running for life and
crying to God
Billowing Black Death,
where life had trod.
And in go these warriors
of such a brave clan
To rescue and aid every
woman and man-
But sadly for many it will be
their last call,
They’ll die with all honor of
giving their all.
It wasn’t for money or glory or
It wasn’t for vanity, so you’d
remember their name.
“It’s just what we do,” they’d
So remember tonight when
you kneel down to pray…
God bless these brave souls,
so gentle, so tough
Lord take them to heaven,
they’ve given enough!
© 2001, Sharon Frye
When I asked Sharon if I could share this with you, she said, “oh Jamie of course you have my permission. I wrote the poem right after the event happened. My husband was a firefighter and his Department embraced it and the fire chief of Oklahoma City, Jon Hanson, took it on the truck to New York and gave out copies along the way. My dear friend Jon has passed away and so I am very emotional not only about the event, but the journey of the poem also. I was asked to read it at the dedication of the firetruck and was not prepared for all the local news stations plus CNN to be there filming. That’s probably more than you wanted to know but I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the history… “
Sharon tells us, “I had also Risen Heroes, which I was commissioned to write for a memorial to First Responders. It was supposed to go on a bronze statue by sculptor Dean Thompson. But bureaucracy got involved and the funding fell through.”
Everything fell that sunny day
when morning pulsed bright blue,
Towers toppled, planes plunged
and so did countless tears.
When death blows reigned from sky,
ash fell like feathers, settled
into heaps of banks and drifts.
You, who were summoned, rose.
You rose, clad in hero colors.
You wore the police officer’s silver badge,
firefighter’s sun-striped bunkout gear,
and the EMT’s Blue Star of Life.
You walked with strong arms around
the splintered, washed debris from
mouths and eyes, when all the while
your burned-out eyes could not fathom.
Your hands grasped the frail and frightened.
With unruffled grace you led, then
back to black billowed hallways,
where Death seized your last breath.
Everything fell that sunny day,
Buildings tumbled, heartbeats silenced-
stilled by the plots of burial demons.
But you… you rose,
unconquered by evil bones…
Through God-sifted stars, you rose.
© 2001, Sharon Frye
Sharon Gariepy Frye – a.k.a. Sharon Frye -is a photographer as well as a poet with two chapbooks published,Last Chance for Rain (White Knights Press, 2014) and a newer collection, Red Dashboard (Elizabeth Dillon, 2016)
- Celebrating American She-Poets (12), Sharon Frye, The Poet by Day
Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded. I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.
My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, Second Light, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Meta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.