110 Stories
by John M. Ford

This is not real. We've seen it all before.
Slow down, you're screaming. What exploded? When?
I guess this means we've got ourselves a war.
And look at -- Lord have mercy, not again.
I heard that they went after Air Force One.
Call FAA at once if you can't land.
They say the bastards got the Pentagon.
The Capitol. The White House. Disneyland.
I was across the river, saw it all.
Down Fifth, the buildings put it in a frame.
Aboard the ferry -- we felt awful small.
I didn't look until I felt the flame.
The steel turns red, the framework starts to go.
Jacks clasp Jills' hands and step onto the sky.
The noise was not like anything you know.
Stand still, he said, and watch a building die.
There's no one you can help above this floor.
We've got to hold our breath. We've got to climb.
Don't give me that; I did this once before.
The firemen look up, and know the time.
These labored, took their wages, and are dead.
The cracker-crumbs of fascia sieve the light.
The air's deciduous of letterhead.
How dark, how brilliant, things will be tonight.
Once more, we'll all remember where we were.
Forget it, friend. You didn't have a choice.
That's got to be a rumor, but who's sure?
The Internet is stammering with noise.
You turn and turn but just can't turn away.
My child can't understand. I can't explain.
The towers drain out from Boston to LA.
The cellphone is our ganglion of pain.
What was I thinking of? What did I say?
You're safe? The TV's off. What do you mean?
I'm going now, but not going away.
I couldn't touch the answering machine.
I nearly was, but caught a later bus.
I would have been, but had this awful cold.
I spoke with her, she's headed home, don't fuss.
Pick up those tools. The subway job's on hold.
Somebody's got to pay, no matter what.
I love you. Just I love you. Just I love --
The cloud rolls on; I think of Eliot.
Not silence, but an emptiness above.
There's dust, and metal. Nothing else at all.
it's airless and it's absolutely black.
I found a wallet. I'm afraid to call.
I'll stay until my little girl comes back.
You hold your breath whenever something shakes.
St. Vincent's takes one massive trauma case.
The voice, so placid, till the circuit breaks.
Ten minutes just to grab stuff from my place.
I only want to hear them say goodbye.
They could be down there, buried, couldn't they?

My friends all made it, and that's why I cry.
He stayed with me, and he died anyway.
We almost tipped the island toward uptown.
Next minute, I'm in Macy's. Who knows how.
I really need to get this bagel down.
He'd haul ass, that's what Jesus would do now.
A fighter plane? Dear God, let it be ours.
We're scared of bombs and so we're loading guns.
Who didn't have a rude word for the towers?
The world's hip-deep in junk that mattered once.
Hands rise to heaven as asbestos falls.
The air is yellow, hideously thick.
A photo, private once, on fifty walls.
A candle in a teacup on a brick.
They found -- can you believe -- a pair of hands.
Oh, that don't hurt. Well, maybe just a bit.
The Winter Garden's shattered but it stands.
A howl is Mene Tekeled in the grit.
Some made it in a basement, so there's hope.
The following are definitely known . . .
You live, is how you learn that you can cope.
Yes, I sincerely want to be alone.
Don't even ask. That's what your tears are for.
The cats are in a shelter; we are not.
Pedestrians rule the Roeblings' bridge once more.
A memory of home is what we've got.
Tribeca with no people, that's plain wrong.
It's just a shopping bag, but who can tell?
Okay, okay, I'm moving right along.
The postcards hit two dollars, and they sell.
Be honest, now. You're proud of living here.
If this is Armageddon, make it quick.
Today, for you, the rose is free, my dear.
We're shooting down our neighbors. Now I'm sick.
I can't do that for fifty times the fare.
A coronary. Other things went on.
It goes, like, something mighty, and despair.
All those not now accounted for are gone.
Here is the man whose god blinked in the flash,
Whose god says sinful people should be hurt,
The man whose god is kneeling in the ash,
The man whose god is dancing on the dirt.
Okay, I ate at Windows now and then.
This fortune-teller went to Notre Dame?
They knocked 'em down. We'll stack 'em up again.
Oh, I'd say one or two things stayed the same.
Some nights I still can see them, like a ghost.
King Kong was right about the Empire State.
I'd rather not hear what you'll miss the most.
A taller building? Maybe. I can wait.
I hugged the stranger sitting next to me.
So this is what you call a second chance.
One turn aside, into eternity.
This is New York. We'll find a place to dance.

With resolution wanting, reason runs
To characters and symbols, noughts and ones.

Copyright (c) 2001 by John M. Ford. Permission hereby granted to make one or two copies for personal use, but please do not reprint except by permission. Thank you.