Rico Mei, California

Editor’s Note: The poem below was written in 2001 and appears in the self-published book, Through Our Eyes: A Tapestry of Words and Images in Response to September 11. Printed and distributed in 2002, the book was the result of an independent, volunteer documentary project organized by a journalist and several friends. The author’s bio was written in 2002 and has not been updated.

Los Angeles, California

Whether he’s strumming his guitar, crafting verse, singing poetry, snapping pictures or digging through junkyards, Aric Daniel Mei is always doing something prolific. Aric, better known as Rico, was born in Logan, Utah, and grew up around Phoenix, Arizona. Today the 24-year-old agnostic lives in Los Angeles, where he works in the film industry. On Sept. 11, he was at home “freaking out.” He wrote his poem around the end of September. Rico also submitted several photographs featuring scenes around Los Angeles in the wake of Sept. 11.

i’ve been watching
the careful orchestration of chaos
the mournful experiment in human nature
the disintegration of the airplane
its momentary absence
then the horrific creation of something new and powerful
an energy mutation no physics scholar could properly explain

black holed buildings the size of candy bars on my television
shot but still stumbling
leaking bodies from the gaping wounds
tumbling fate left with jet fuel eyes and red fire
those desperate and burned letting loose a charred hand
the long fall toward something spinning and better
dreaming of stone pillows
their ambient voices not only filling the canyons below
but the world
children wondering if they felt the ground
their paths soon followed by everything
brilliant weeping willows of concrete dust and steel
a burning ruin
a tomb for six thousand
a religious sacrifice
to a god who was perhaps not hungry
the surrounding gray sidewalks haunted by the pale white suited men
emerging from the asbestos ash
clutching their briefcase and handkerchiefs
and gasping for their New York air
silently stepping over scattered reams of stationary bearing
addresses that no longer exist

the rescuers left alive to face the smiling rats
wishing their sense of smell would abandon them
presidents and practicing priests left with prayer
asking their mothers for help
but George keeping his chest inflated
part schoolboy pride
part bulletproof vest
the statue of liberty seems lonelier now
a copper orphan left to face the winter
whispering in our ears
the world and its people are at the will of the suicidal man
we have seen everything now
until tomorrow
i live in Los Angeles and I am waiting

Day on the Couch


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