September 11, 2016
With Summer fading and 2016 winding toward its last quarter with all the promise of another fantastic year, this date/day of reflection and remembrance of the 9/11 attacks prompts me annually to share in some forum or another a poem I wrote more than 10 years before September 11, 2001. Originally titled “A Prayer For the Children,” I eventually realized that it was bigger than the title and indeed could be a prayer for all of humanity. Thus the poem became simply “A Prayer.” Written as my reaction to the news of the US led military response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (also known as the First Gulf War) in January 1991, it evolved with the addition of another stanza to make it a perfect reading on Savannah’s Public Radio Station 91.1 WSVH. Station Manager Eric Nauert read the poem on air on the first anniversary of 9/11 as part of his local special which featured songs, music, and written word pieces produced for or about the events which had taken place on 9/11/01.
It is presented here as it has evolved, to become a standard in the repertoire of what I consider to be my best poems.
I pray that you will never know a hurt like that within my soul.
A hungry day, a lonely night, or ever have to see the sight
Of oil washed upon your shores, or the horrible reality of wars.
I pray that you won’t have to feel a desperation that makes you steal,
Or a hopelessness from which you shrug,
“SO WHAT, WHO CARES?!,”
Because you’ve never had a hug.
May you never know the aches of heart,
Where love has been crushed
And can not start,
I pray for you so innocent, yearning to experience Life…
That yours won’t have to be like some who’ve come before,
Who for the dollar shut Heaven’s door to make a mockery of freewill.
May you bring hope and never kill the joy of peace, the peace of Love.
Then never shall you fear the shroud of gleaming buildings crashing down
To burning rubble, to a dusty cloud,
Crushed beneath the searing weight
Of humanity’s breath and lifelong hate;
Then never shall you fear the shroud of a homeless night or a mushroom cloud.
Dedicated to all who have suffered the blows of human violence and injustice from time immemorial.