Week 24 ~ Heather Ouellette-Cygan

Posted: September 11, 2011 in Heather Ouellette-Cygan, Week 24

Poems often come to me when I’m moving – walking Sugar or driving my car – for instance. Because of this, I always keep a little notebook tucked in my glove compartment. Today, I’ve decided to submit two poems that I scribbled in the days following September 11th, 2001. Both are unedited from the little notebook I was keeping in my car at the time.

The notebooks also serve as a means to keep the kids entertained. Zoë was just two years old at that time, and the little notebook, with a smiling orange cat on the front, is filled with her drawings, and the messy beginnings of a few lines of verse.

I’ve decided to type up these poems “as is” – keeping even my crossed-out, on-the-spot editings, capitalization or lack of it, original dashes and punctuation, and the carrots that indicated an inserted word. The only revised parts of these poems added today are the titles, which I borrowed from snippets of speeches I heard this morning while watching the observance of the 10 year anniversary of September 11th on ABC.

The first poem, “Descended into Hell on Earth” was written on September 12th 2001. I think I was listening to NPR and their coverage of the poetry that was already being written about what happened the day before. This inspired me to try writing a poem of my own. I just couldn’t stop thinking about Chicken Little.

The second poem, “People Really Do Catch You When You Fall” was most likely written sometime after Sunday, September 16th, the day after Mike & Robyn’s “Yup We’re Still Married” party, at which a number of us geekz were present and feeling quite wounded. It was good for us to be together with people we love so much, even when things got a little out of hand. The first part of the poem is reflecting on that. The second part is reflecting on another party Cameron and I attended around the same time. It was a child’s birthday party at a roller skating rink. Cam and I were skating and holding hands, because he was just learned. He lost his balance and fell, pulling me down with him.

These poems are raw and messy. Maybe someday I’ll do something else with them, but for now, I’m doing what I tell my students never to do: sharing unrevised work with you.

“Descended into Hell on Earth”

September 12th, 2001


The sky is empty –

Now, of the planes,

of the Titanic Tall Towering


Twins.   have fallen,

And People fell too,

out of the sky

like chicken

little yelled. warned


And the sky keeps

falling, we

wait for it

to      drop




“People Really Do Catch You When You Fall”


He fell on me –

drunken, but kind-

Ironically -just switched

to coffee

And stained the

white sweater I’d

protected from

Red wine all night.

My face burned

with caffeinated

liquid and I

felt nothing

Except the burns

of Every body

that dropped w/

the WTC


I fell skating

just a couple of

feet. My back,

slightly broken –

reminds me of

the force of falling

110 stories

from the sky.

This morning

on GMA –

A wife told

of how

A body crushed

her firefighting husband.

  1. Robyn says:

    I want to leave a comment, but you have left me without words. Tears, yes. But no words.

  2. Caron says:

    I’m with Robyn. My eyes welled up and visions popped in my head.

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