As you know, New York and its surrounding suburbs in other states have been absolutely devastated by the flooding and winds the recent storm has brought. Only now is the full extent of the damage being assessed, with my alma mater closed for already four days, along with so many NYC schools. Good friends and aquaintances, especially in the Rockaways, have had trees destroy their homes, basements and ground floors submerged, and loss of power likely to last for a week or more.
I ask you to please consider us in your thoughts, to implore the Mercy of God where the wrath of nature has caused the City that never sleeps to fall into an eerie stupor. I especially urge you to pray for the repose of those 71 (and counting) who lost their lives in the storm, here in the United States as well as in the Caribbean.
A deep sadness has caused me to write a small momento of the destruction that has transpired. Please, if you so wish, read it with contemplation.
The Earth Ender
From nowhere did the cyclone come, beginning
as a sickly storm, slowly dying over cooling ocean,
but then a fierce power seized it, made it grow, and
Sandy became frankenstorm, unlike any seen before.
People thought it would be like Irene, menacing yet
unable to spill the sea over wall. Half the city fled
to return to unshaken home, and now they held same
hope that this storm should pass without sad thought.
How wrong! How wrong they were, as they saw it
transform into hurricane as wide as Texas, larger
than all England, churning unstoppable, so mighty,
the frightful wrath of God to pierce the heart of city.
O why, o why Lord, did you smite us so? Perhaps
it is this bit of Earth that stubbornly forgets Him Who
made the world. But if it was so, quickly did we know
this will be a punishment to flee at tall yet paltry cost.
Even the rich, whose greed is never satisfied, closed
the market of the world, despite losing country's worth
of gold. More than this they stood to lose once the wave
crept up and over barrier into pit, tunnel, and treasury.
When it came, it was the fury of the wind that wrecked
the ground, uprooted trees whole, scattered signs about,
until at last the hidden tunnels and canals filled to brim
with brine, mixing and making stew of shit and car alike.
Behold this Earth ender, that reclaims the land for ocean,
with rain and gale repeats the feat of Noah's time, and we -
we are helpless, unprepared, watching all liquify, be wiped
away and obliterated, amidst the unpierced darkness of the night.
Requiem for My City
My city! O my city! That I should sleep a safe night as you
fall beneath the ocean wave, and become fine fish-house
devoid of men! A deep loss and sadness banishes sleep
as I speculate what calamity lies behind the silence of phone.
I struggle to know what has become of the shore I love,
that now hides, since the ocean spilled over sea wall,
emboldened by a fiersome wind, that teemed with mothers
and their children, strolling in the gentle glow of afternoon sun.
The capital of the world, unwalled against any foe, born
of commerce and people brought by the ocean of Atlantis
to build a daughter far grander than her ancient mother -
now is buried by the same water that gave it splendid life.
Where families flee, the water fills the gaps, visits homes
and hidden trains, makes cars and buses drift away -
the roads and streets that brought life-blood into the city
are now clogged with trash and creeping stench of crap.
My alma mater that never closes, not for sleet or snow
or any other type of storm, for week now will be shuttered
blocked by surreal sight of river where there ought be
track of subway, trees where there ought be free passage.
That I should see you so, bereft of a people so great,
not one light left, not single spark of brilliance to rival
the sky above, since a mighty fire with tongues of rainbow
color burned last link of island to the rushing river of energy!
I see even in my life how my city shall die, though its citizens
return to lift vital underworld and golden tower from the water.
The sea shall be repelled, the claims shall be paid, and the poor
shall return to beg beside the sidewalk, this all just a memory.
Yet when at last my city shall be abandoned, its schools
and hospitals empty, the opera mute and the senate too,
her only monument will not be the exile's longing song,
but the endless pitter patter that speaks of the columns
built four centuries, standing here no more.