"Window on the World"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Sept. 11 2003 11:07 AM

Window on the World

Listen to Alfred Corn reading this poem. Time after time a glitch immobilized the screen At Windows Is Shutting Down, the program icon hanging

Fire in paradoxical support of its sign-off
Caption during that long month of graveyard shifts

And pre-dawn vigils I spent sifting online fallout
Of terror, pity, and insight posted to the globe.

Nine-Eleven, Nine-Eleven, hear it, a ravaged
SOS, our call to arms and talisman,

The dateline turning septic with its subtext, spun
Out by the Web's ten-thousand arachnes, so many

Forwarding Auden's "Those to whom evil is done do
Evil in return." And done again by enraged

Coevals, sheer reaction's critical mass redoubling
Topical fission, escalation, devolution,

A huge acridity that spikes air-quality graphs,
That floats down on a waterproofed black jacket's yellow

And gray stripes as the bearded fireman doffs his helmet
At the sky, twin tear-streaks guttering a mask of ashes.

                              ***

Time travel: From our early-'70s Grand Street loft space
In pre-consumer-heaven SoHo, W.