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Ground Zero
November 2015

This is a retrospective memory of how I felt on the morning of 9/11 when the news of the terror attack reached me, via a friend in the USA.

Read at the Puzzle Poets 7 December 2015

I was not there
Yet in a cruel hard-wired universe
I was there.
An email from a friend,
Tearful, distraught, desperate, out of her depth, unable to understand,
Transports me out-of-body across oceans
And into parallel epicentres in the morning sky.

And so I sit, a hollow shell, head in hands,
While the movie plays out in its endless loop
With no sound in my head except the ghastly, ghostly voice
Of James Alexander Gordon - remember him? -
Intoning that infernal scoreline:
"Earth Nil, Hell One".

The perpetual-motion conveyor belt of questions rolls on,
Like a rotisserie with my insides on the spit.
Who are we? What are we? Why are we?
We are born,
We fuck each other's brains out to ensure millions more are born
Then we blow each other's brains out to ensure the millions die,
And we die, and we die again, and again, those fucked brains
Traded for immortality... or so we arrogantly imagine.
Even if we realise at the 11th hour
That we are not cats, we do not have 9 lives,
Yet in a sense we do; we are condemned
To ask the same questions, repeat the same mistakes,
Obsess over the same carnal, primeval urges
Over and over and over again.

And so I sit, a hollow shell, head in hands,
Asking "Why, how, what for, where next?".
Does existence breed extermination?
Is it a coincidence that DNA and despair both come in spirals?

My future self says to me
"A new world will arise from the rubble of the old.
In this world you will be the producer,
The director, the cameraman, the sound engineer.
You will stoke the fires, man the generators, regulate the sluices.
You will give this new world the positive energy it craves".
But on this mild and bitter September morning
Renewal seems like an unwritten movement
Of an unfinished symphony by an unalive composer
In the unimagined unconsciousness of an unborn child.

Earth Nil.
Or, in its haunting synonym:
Ground Zero.