Nancy Elizabeth Johnson

Working Note: “Elegy for Steel” internalizes a single and very difficult traumatic event that has been experienced by the collective and tries to define and center the creative force this experience feeds without identifying a specific resolution.

elegy for steel

if I write
then this is truth

flashing sound bite         flaming
deeply official
then real time replays extended
repeated horror
from every angle.
all the power crashes                no volume
all the people still
tumbling steel takes full advantage.

if I believe this
and I do believe this

that window
a face               a flying down
all this dust wheezing my chest
piling up against this aching part
and all the hearts brace
and all the fists feel
less       than yesterday.

if I say that power
was never a good substitute
for love

the cynic may spit on my sentiment
or change the channel
or choose the circus instead.
but as of September
something         new
and angry
marks my palms
making dreams essential.

—    October 2001

Bio: Nancy Elizabeth Johnson is a writer, dancer and performer originally from Pennsylvania and residing in Oakland, CA. She is currently a 2002 MFA candidate at St. Mary’s College of California and was the 1999 recipient of the Union Institute Audre Lorde Woman of Color Writer/Activist Award.

writing after september 11 index

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