Their responses, photos, and examples of their artwork are included in this post.
ROSEMARY RHODES ROYSTON
SUSAN KIMMEL WRIGHT
A pesar de no vivir en USA ,siento que 9/11 cambió mi vida. A partir de ese día veo muchas cosas con otros ojos, no es que este paranoica pero desde entonces tengo un cierto miedo a volar, y me enojo conmigo misma pues no quiero que esos terroristas tengan poder sobre mi,pero la verdad es que en cierta manera debido a todos los ataques terroristas que han habido últimamente me he vuelto más cautelosa y algo miedosa, mi fé es más grande que nunca , y cuando me pongo a pintar me tranquilizo,me siento segura, mi fé me ayuda a seguir adelante en este mundo lleno de violencia yatentados terroristas...
San Francisco, California
Paintings by Regina Anavy
Regina climbing Mount Picchu
Nature, also, is healing. And music. There’s only so much an individual can do, and we must take care of each other and ourselves while the world whirls around us. In this way we confront the darkness.
Regina with husband Ralph
Writer, Instructor, Anthropologist
New Orleans, Louisiana
My colleagues wept. My boss ran in his office crying. I stood and prayed, angry at whoever are enemies were. I felt prepared spiritually for that moment, not consciously but unconsciously. I had been praying a lot in tongues for months. I sensed I needed to get ready for something. Surely I would have preferred something else.
I stopped to stare at the coil of dark smoke looming up where the towers had stood. I thought of my great-grandmother, who had walked just ahead of the fire after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. I knew I came by the resolve I felt honestly.
For days afterwards, I would see big, burly men on the street blubbering, and I would stop and hold them in my arms as if I were their momma. “We’ll get through this,” I promised.
I just added to those poems some others, including one of which I remain quite proud, “In Thanks for Mary,” a poem I had the honor to read on the first anniversary of September Eleventh to a national radio audience. That poem documents the improbable survival of a real woman I know, the improbability of God’s providence everywhere, His presence even as we struggle to understand where He is in our lives.
When I first read it in November 2001 to an audience of still shell-shocked New Yorkers, the whole crowd wept. It was a very moving experience. An actress made the poem into a one-woman show she performed a few times. I was invited to read it at the Montauk Club. I published a chapbook of works surrounding the tragedy of 9/11 called Counterterrorist Poems. I received fan mail from unlikely places, friends of the president George W. Bush, a man for whom I never would have voted. I hope this means that I have found a vein of artistic truth worth plumbing. I am probably the only poet in the United States who has been published in journals run by the Communist Party and the Christian Right. I think when an artist seeks to honor others, he or she is more likely to find an audience from divergent camps. Perhaps the memory of September Eleventh unites us all more than it divides us.
It was my intention to search my memory and try to recreate the first days of my experience after 9/11. To that end, I turned to my journal of those days, and having reread it, decided that I could do no better than to present raw the recording of my thoughts as they occurred. So the journal from September 11 to October 11, 2001 follows, edited only for length, clarity and spelling.
Peter is my husband, Tim and Alex my children; the other people mentioned (not always generously) are if not well known, then friends and colleagues at Florida State U.
These events informed my life in a fundamental and permanent way. Some of my imagining of what the 9/11 victims endured found its way into my novel Bridge of Sand (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014).
Of the many things I did not then know, the crucial one is that I did not know my son Tim Eysselinck, who was at the time leading a team of mine-removal trainees in Ethiopia, would be doing the same in Iraq by June 2003, or that his enthusiasm for that war would turn to disillusion and disgust, that he would return to his family in 2004 and two months later take his own life.
That story I have told at length in Losing Tim and will not repeat here, only register that these events, which I then wrote of in ignorance, now are charged for me with anger, grief and better understanding of what loss is.
I have long known that I use my writing to make order where there is internal chaos. I trust writing as a process for my own understanding, and have found a spiritual peace in the writing of others. As I put it in an essay many years ago:
September 11th, 2001
Was doing my exercises to CNN news as usual when they interrupted some sports or fashion drivel to switch to the pix of WTO with a gaping hole in the side. I called out to Peter and then saw the second building blister and break with flame—I did not realize a plane had gone into it, though I had vaguely been aware that planes were in the sky because I had thought: do they fly too close to those buildings? CNN at that moment too was speculating some air traffic controller screwup. P & I both said: nah, we have been ripe for this. P in fact has sat in front of the news for two years saying: why haven’t they?
Tried to call Tim—he is not in danger and won’t think I am, but my impulse was for contact. Could not get through—busy—and the same for Alex. P was by this time at the U. Learned that the Pentagon had been hit and called him. Left a message for Julia assuming she had heard but later learned that I was her first inkling. Watched the band on the bottom of the TV screen register a 150 point dive in the DOW and then the little amber arrow blipped away and UNCH appeared, and I knew the stock market had been shut down.
Afternoon, Robert O B (Olen Butler) points out that though everyone is assuming Bin Laden, what have we got? Four hijackings. What’s to say it isn’t domestic terrorism a la Murat? Just this maybe: 11 Sept. 1992 was the Camp David accord. Rumors or info, the plane that went down in PA was said to be headed for Camp David.
Various Claudia calls—(her daughter) Anne Loomis works on 25th St. with a view of WTO; she called to say she was okay. But her company, Royal Blue, has annex office on 40th of WTO second building hit, and she watched the building fall. Anne walked over Brooklyn Bridge to home in Brooklyn, is apparently very strung out.
Edith in the Travel Agency—called (I was in no hurry to check on airplane tickets) with itinerary, needed to vent. She was headed home but leaving home number for stranded clients. Thirty of them, a bunch of FL lawyers who retreated last year somewhere (Carolinas maybe) from which they had to evacuate on account of hurricane, are now stranded in Bermuda.
We admitted, P & I, there is a thread of awed admiration in the horror, that they could pull it off, the timing, the scope, the intensity. And certainly we are paralyzed: terrorism works. Planes grounded, stock market and all gov’t closed, shortage of blood. There is in it the element of caper: the Cosmic Caper, so many movie heroes from Alec Guiness to Dinero and Norton, intricately outwitting big business.
actor Alec Guiness
But our President mouthing, posturing, belligerent little kid. Giuliani, for all his faults, sounds genuine, plain talker, spontaneous, focus on the job at hand. McCain as well—otherwise among the politicos so much pompompompomp.
ROB also says that the training of the suicide terrorists promises them harems of women at their disposal in heaven; they head in to the target with a hard-on.
P says maybe we will learn a little compassion from this. I say, you kidding? The hawks are aloft. Our lives have changed today. Security, censorship, military carte blanche. P says we should now ask: what have we done to be hated with this intensity? I say: that is the question. But you would not dare to stand up in a public place and say it. You would be “blaming the victim.” Never mind the victims in Palestine, etc.
All day I have wanted to eat.
A nap. Now missiles in Kabul. We wouldn’t, would we? Retaliate before we know who’s responsible, we of the innocent-until-guilty persuasion, a pillar of our socalled superiority?
Time to register two sour turns of mind: when Claudia called to tell me of Anne’s proximity to the scene, I thought—how glad Claudia is to be able to claim a connection to the disaster. And when I talked to Mark and he said the baby had not come yet (Jennifer overdue by two days), I thought—if his child is born today he will race to do a death/birth article. These impulses not necessarily inaccurate, but unworthy, accompanied immediately by a twinge of envy. And here I am diligently writing down my own paltry experience.
I've been sitting watching CNN since about an hour after first attack... Sitting here in disbelief and horror- can't do anything... Seeing the footage thought it was a bad dream or trailer for latest hollywood block buster. Birgitt and Thyra (his wife and daughter) are fine and are supposed to come on Friday morning. We are wondering if it is safe to travel?
Thyra up front, and Janet Burroway in the background at Tim's funeral.
Slept medium badly, awake at 3:28 (by the digital clock) and twisting for some length of time while the images of the plane going into tower two, the fire ball, the implosion like a feathered flower being pulled into the ground by its stem.
At mucky-talk (over coffee) we imagined it, the perspectives: you are sitting at your desk, absorbed in some minor problem of mismatched figures or wrestling with a paragraph of company policy initiatives. Glance up to see an airplane at an unfamiliar angle, yet not entirely so because the movies have done this from time to time. Wobbly, nose foremost. It is heading for you and you don’t have time to believe it before—what? the noise registers? or does not? death comes as a thunder that does not quite reach your brain before the glass, shards of steel, the paper weight from the third desk over, a crown of Bic pens is imbedded in your torso.
Or: you are on the plane, reading your magazine, aware of only a slight scuffle and disturbance—the drinks cart rattling?—and look up to see a stewardess bleeding from the back, or from the throat; she staggers toward you and collapses in the aisle. And then there are how many minutes? Half an hour by all reports, to sit nauseated, needing to pee and with some small part of your mind designated to guard against that humiliation. You hope the aliens—you see them this way, the dark skin, the set of mouth, the jerky movements—in the aisle, barking, going about their business, will not notice you. You sit rigid. You think of spouse, kids, a dull undercurrent of acceptance runs in you because you believe in your life; you say, well, here it is, but you don’t believe it; the building is in front of you but you don’t believe that either though you say, here it is, now we are gone, and things become violently slow and clear in the suddenly augmented light, the oriental cutie on the page of the magazine where it sits still open on your lap, beckoning to some island paradise; the texture of the fabric on the seat ahead of you, its ugly functional pattern of blues and reds, the drops streaming almost horizontal now on the little oval of light beside you. Sphincter, stomach, lungs, cranium, toes fingers clenched. You say: I love...
Or you are three floors above the gaping hole; the flames are at your back, below you the cascade of paper like some monstrous ticker tape parade, a snow of daily slog, the trivia of little deals and desires. The heat comes hugely at you and you know you will either burn or leap into that shower. The pieces of it flutter, waft. Choice seizes you.
Went to get the NYTimes and went into the vet’s for flea stuff (business as usual). The girl behind the counter watching CNN said: oh, look it’s that lady. Christianne Amanpour, and we agreed that she is in the center of everything, she flies to the center wherever disaster is. Now, though, in front of 10 Downing Street, which I recognized at a glance—curious that, too; I would not have known I would identify it so automatically. Nor would it have occurred to me that the vet’s receptionist wd. be aware of Christianne Amanpour.
This is the story of the three little pigs. The WTO was concrete and steel, but it was too tall. All skyscrapers are a house of straw.
At no time, not one moment of the last several years, have I had any attitude toward the military-industrial complex but recoil, scorn and disdain. This morning between Publix and the vet I found myself thinking, well, we’re so big and strong that nobody will think they can invade us; whew.
Still, from time to time a formula of words strikes me right (or wrong, in any case otherwise than mouthing and pieties) and the desire for revenge rises in me, before I remember how pointless the fighting against those who obsessed me and how much better even a contemptuous détente.
One of the insights of psychology that can be statistically proven is that victims of abuse grow up to be abusers. Around the world in the last few decades we have seen this principle in action—in Israel, in Kosevo, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan. We see its potential in the disenfranchised of our own country. We must, ironically, look to South Africa for any attempt to break the cycle of hatred; and in South Africa the outcome is far from certain.
The voices raised for “swift justice” in the wake of the terrible events of this week seem almost universally to equate justice with revenge. But we must also examine our justice in the sense of fairness to other nations, peoples, and our own people. Where have we been arrogant, greedy, intolerant, contemptuous to an extent that other people have suffered and died? How has our pride in our status among nations been used to abuse the poor and the weak? What have we done to foster the intensity of their hatred?
Painting of Irish ship of immigrants coming to America . .
In a story on life in the capitol of Afghanistan yesterday, the New York Times reports that in Khair Khana, a man selling fertilizer in a Kabul market, had three things to say about the catastrophe:
1) The terrorists are “the enemies of God.”
2) “Americans are powerful and can do anything they
like without us stopping them.”
3) “Americans should look into their hearts and minds
about why someone would kill themselves and
others” in such a way.
My television tube has a bad case of post traumatic stress syndrome, keeps flashing on the same four or five images of horror, terrified anew by them but cannot let them go. At night when the tv is off I wake to carry on the same.
The news media are doing a good job, I think, no commercials, not too too much ambulance and tears chasing; Peter Jennings the best, lowest key, measured hour after hour—yet even he capable of cant lapses... Joanna says they are “profoundly unimpressed” with W.—what can one say? A moral pygmy, even P agreed at dinner last night that we wish Clinton were back. Also we all confessed to low thoughts; Elizabeth that it would buy her time on her novel; Bob that he had his new short story in Hemispheres, magazine of United Airlines, and had eerily (perhaps proudly; that was the low part) thought that it might be the last thing some of the victims had read before they were hijacked.
All the signs are that we will “go to war.” Go where?
This news is two days old, but holds my mind—the piles of rubble, staggering as they are (a million and a half tons, did they say?) are not big enough. According to the physics of the thing, they should be stories higher. The explanation for this is that gypsum, drywall, concrete, fiberglass, perhaps brick, were pulverized in the tectonics of that collapse. That is why “smoke” poured through the streets and still hangs in the whole sky, in eyes and lungs.
And this image of the strange survival of paper leads me to observe, that this week people have set aside all manner of thing because it puts it in perspective and makes you realize, it’s only sports/a vacation/a conference/a rock concert. Nobody has suggested that it makes you realize it’s only writing. Now more than ever we need writing; the news, the interpretations, the analyses, the commentary; even the journals like this one that become particular memory. I am (is this a low thought? don’t think so) proud of being part of this profession.
Also on the subject of paper: thousands flock to hospitals and check points, are interviewed on TV, holding up photos of the “missing,” hoping that “somebody has seen my husband/brother/daughter.” The authorities gently ask them to bring dental records and DNA samples, but here they come with their photographs. “I have faith he/she is alive. Perhaps in an air pocket.” Moving but also moving in the way you are moved by someone who was once sane and now isn’t... Might there, possibly, be yet a rescue or two? Not likely. What, in this context, can “missing” really mean? There could be (and, I said to P, will be at least one novel this year on the speculation) a person or two who survived and took the opportunity to flee an unsatisfactory life. One woman this morning on CNN held up the picture of her husband, a technician for CBS who had lived through the earlier WTC bomb, was on the 110th floor this time. She hopes he will be found. The anchor does not comment. Hard to tell what the interviewers are feeling (saying in the green room) about their task here. You can’t pull grieving relatives up short on national news—but we are having a very public demonstration of how denial works.
Nearly two weeks of focus on getting the Imaginative Writing ms. in, then oral surgery, writing the NYTBR review of Klima. Everywhere, everyone: life is altogether changed and so much the same. People differ in what way this is so. Karen full of life, not afraid of death but tentacles-out as after a near death experience. Anne Loomis doing also well in the solidarity among her friends and the city—the opposite of what was feared—though she was afraid to go back to work. Me ashamed, here, of my reaction toward Claudia because I have now seen the view from Anne’s work window and she did indeed watch from terrifying nearness, escape in fear. Peter and I conscious of shifting sands and view with sense of inevitability a showdown, this decade or next, with the Arab world we have exploited and teased and misunderstood... Chilled by the reaction to Bill Maher—comedian who said: they weren’t cowards, they flew in deliberately at the cost of their lives; we are cowards to bomb long distance. Media, gov’t., other actors zapped down on him, he in near tears apologizing on, I think it was, Letterman. But, but, but! He was right and even if he were not, dissent is the precious right we hold and the Taliban crushes, is it not? Truisms, but I am fearful when I see so little said in his defense.
In Phoenix, nine years ago, we went to an IMAX and watched a documentary on the making of Independence Day, how they did all those explosions of the Capitol with models, bomb shots, mini-dynamite placement. The experts were enthusiastic kids. What I came away with, more than the wonder they intended for me, was the understanding that Hollywood movies are full of bombs and car crashes because these guys have the toys. Also it is their living. So of course the movies are going to blow things up, you bet!
I have exactly the same insight watching some general or other on CNN this morning as he circles the bomb craters on the recon photo of the runway in Kabul, describing (voice of pride) the B-2’s, the exactitude of the missiles’ trajectory, the altitude of the surveillance equipment, the payload of the bomber. They have and love the toys; it is their livelihood to deploy them; of course we will go to war against the Evil One.
The Bishop's Gardens in September
The frantic ringing of the phone woke me from my jetlagged sleep on the morning of the 11th—my mother in New Mexico begging me to answer, to assure her that I was back in California, alive and safe. I think it made her glad for the first time in my life that I'm not a morning person, that I hadn't stayed in Washington and been on a plane early that day, when planes were falling from the eastern sky.
Christie Cochrell''s parents
Hawai's Koala Coast Beach
Van Gogh's "Olive Trees"
photo attributed to Christie Cochrell
I keep reminding myself of my father's words in one of his novels—"Although you lose happiness, you do not lose the capacity for happiness."
Early photo of Christie Cochrell's parents.
Bird on Hadrian's wall. Photo attributed to Christie Cochrell
King Kamehameha in later years. Attributed to Louis Choris.
King Kamehameha's War Temple.
John Barrymore as Hamlet in 1922
Left: 17 year old Cicada 1930 Attributed to Robert Evans
Right: The Angel Oak Tree in South Carolina
The Veteran In A New Field - attributed to Winslow Homer 1865
I walked to my neighbor’s door and knocked. She let me in and I sat down in front of her television.
The sky was a flawless milky blue with a clue of fall in the air. Most of my neighbors are holdouts from the old Hell’s Kitchen living in HUD housing units, or inmates from the mental ward on the corner. These are not your financial types. They sat on their stoops bickering in Spanish like any other day, smoking cigarettes, buying Italian ices from the guy on the corner. Something dreadful was happening just a few miles south and these people didn’t seem to know about it. The scene reminded me of a William Carlos Williams poem about Icarus – a tragedy was happening within earshot and everyone just turned away because they had things to do.
Painting Landscape With the Fall of Icarus 1558 attributed to Peter Brueghel the Elder
William Carlos Williams wrote "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" poem in response to Brueghel's painting.
Memorial marker for the firemen from the Hell's Kitchen area who lost their lives on 9/11.
Once my dog was done with his walk I tried to make some calls but my phone didn’t want to dial out, though I received the occasional call, mainly from my neighbor across the hall—phone service was sketchy outside of the City. I sat on my couch holding my phone and my dog and watched the news, teeth unbrushed, hair uncombed, face unwashed. I forgot to eat. The planes kept crashing and the towers kept crumbling and people kept dying and I sat there watching for something to change, for some hint of mistake on the part of the newscasters. I wanted a “War of the Worlds” scenario where the crashing would stop and they’d show how it was all done with small-scale models and computer graphics.
Left, H.G. Wells, Middle, Jacket cover of The War of the Worlds, far right, illustration from The War of the Worlds.
I decided that starving myself wasn’t going to help the situation, so I managed to dress and take my dog and myself to the Coffee Pot café on the corner. They had a big screen T.V. blaring the news with about a dozen patrons surrounding it, gasping at each replay of the second plane cutting through the building, from every angle.
Inside The Coffee Pot Cafe
I got my coffee and my croissant and sat on the red velvet bench next to a good looking young guy who was shaking his head and muttering between sips from his chipped maroon cup.
Every few minutes groups of firemen and cops walked by, but it wasn’t their shocked faces that told where they had just come from, though that would have been enough. It was their shoes. Everyone walking in with shoes covered to the ankle in white dust went immediately to a room way in the back where psychologists spoke with them.
We were told not to give the family members too much hope. I suggested that we not talk about the missing people in the past tense, and it was agreed that we use the present.
The first to approach us was an older gentleman, nicely dressed, alone, with red-rimmed eyes and a cell phone in his hand. He smelled of booze. He walked confidently up to us and sat down. He wanted to see the list that we had of people that were found. We told him we didn’t have a list, that we were here to take down information.
I couldn’t intake anyone else. I left Debbie at the table and went back to the television room. I couldn’t sit still, so I decided to photocopy the pages in the phonebook that listed all the hospitals in Manhattan so that we could give copies to the family members that came in. I talked with other volunteers. By three a.m. family members had stopped coming in, and by four Debbie and I left. A cop flagged down an empty city bus for us and the bus driver gave us door-to-door service. I don’t think a city bus had ever driven down my street before that night.
Before climbing into my loft I checked my phone messages. Twenty-three. That’s including the nine I didn’t listen to the in that morning. Five good friends, two ex-boyfriends, several colleagues, my mom, my neighbor, two more students, two friends of my parents, one adult child of my parent’s friends, and repeats of those and others who had called before.
by Nikki Moustaki
Congleton Downhill in Cheshire.
British soldiers engage Iraqi Army positions with their 81 mm mortars south of Basra. 03/26/2003
A Soldier carries a wounded Iraqi child into the Charlie Medical Center at Camp Ranad's Iraq. 03/20/2007
New York City in August 0f 2011
New York City in August 2011
Overlooking Rockford with the NYC skyline in the distance.
Rosemary and Poet Van Henderson at Sarah Lawrence College.
Much of the day is a blur now.
At my doctor’s office we sat together not as medical professionals and patient, but as Americans, sitting mostly in stunned silence as the television coverage sliced through our lives with the terrible wound of that day.
Virginia and husband summer of 2016
These paintings are like children that begin fresh and then grow and, when mature, I send them out to do their part in the world.
Al Qaeda militant in Sahel 2012