Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"A Few Poems on 9/11"

Ten Seconds With God

Ten seconds is a very long time
When that’s all you have to live
Time enough to make your peace
But not enough to give…

To give your honey one more kiss
To squeeze her oh so tight
To give your kids assurance that
Everything will be all right

From the moment I began this job
I’ve prepared for this day
So now, as He calls me home
It seems I know the way

Kaboom, kaboom, kaboom, kaboom
Like a freight train bearing down
I instantly knew how this would end
And I felt His peace surround…

Surround my body, and my soul
Surround my brothers in arms
I felt His love, like a giant cloak
Sheltering us from harm

While answering the call that day
I saw the second plane
It glided through the cloudless sky
Then burst into fiery rain

It rained down fire, rained down dust
It rained down bodies, too
It seemed no matter how we tried
There was nothing we could do

We knew that people trapped above
The hole that ripped the tower
Could never escape, with their lives
Without His awesome power

I prayed that day, a silent prayer
As I stepped inside the lobby
I knew that without His help
We’d only recover bodies

We started up the narrow stairs
While others were heading out
As we passed the scared civilians
Some began to shout…

“God bless you, our brave firemen.
You’re heroes to us all.”
But we were merely doing our jobs
Answering the call

We knew when we began the fight
We all would not survive
But by risking our lives for others
We keep the dream alive…

The dream that good will conquer all
And God will help us through
Reward us with eternal life
As we begin anew

I saw the face of God that day
As He led me to this place
His will, not ours, will be done
Accept this fact with grace

I understood, at once, that day
What we were sent here for
Watch over each other as best we can
For who could ask for more

Ten seconds is a very long time…

Copyright 2004 by Tom Kenney


It’s funny how people remember us
From that fateful day
As the heroes who climbed the towers
Passing workers on the way

They see the footage of us in the lobby
Preparing for the haul
The look on our faces, they say
Surely says it all

“They knew they were going to die“,
They tell each other
“You can see it in their eyes as they
Greet a fellow brother”

They fail to realize it’s not uncommon
For us to show our fear
But we never allow the fear to stop us
We just keep each other near

We may be proud, we may be brave
But suicidal, we’re not
We take many risks to do our jobs
Giving all we’ve got

They think we know it’s a death sentence
As we enter the lobby door
Unaware that not a man here among us
Had not been here before

As we walk through the valley of death again
That old familiar place
We can’t accept that we’ll leave our souls
And feel death’s cold embrace

If we had known we would never come out
We’d have never gone in
Fearing and knowing are two different things
So we hold our doubts within

As we climbed up the stairs floor by floor
Searching zone by zone
It was saving lives that was on our minds
Not giving up our own

The Angel of Death is our frequent companion
A feared and lethal foe
But when he’s here for one of our own
How are we to know

We’re trained to push things to the limit
On each and every call
We’re well aware that lives are on the line
And we may sacrifice all

We live with this throughout our careers
Through every single shift
It hangs in the air like a shroud of fog
Which we can never set adrift

Some think it’s merely words when we say
We risk our lives for you
But we take this fact into account
In everything we do

That day in September in 2001
Was no different in our eyes
We could not have known what devastation
Was raining from the skies

We look down from above as our brothers
Desperately search “the pile”
They have no idea that we’re finally at rest
They’re still in denial

Our bravery that day seemed beyond belief
In the eyes of humanity
But the fact is we’ve faced our mortality before
Though you may question our sanity

We were merely men doing the job we loved
Down to our last breaths
We remain merely men in the scheme of it all
Even after our deaths

Copyright 2007 - Tom Kenney

Forever Changed

As I reflect upon that fateful day
Six years and one day later
I realize that I’m not alone
I’m part of something greater

I feel that somehow I’ve been broken
Been weakened by the toll
I feel I should be able to rise above
And save my damaged soul

But those of us in the fire service
Were forever changed that day
No longer capable of hiding tears…
Should it have ever been that way?

I sat in church and wept again
A victim of my emotions
As speaker after speaker spoke again
Of the firefighters’ devotion

The padre, a bishop and a cantor
What a strange mix indeed
Speaking of peace and love and virtue
And what the world now needs

I can’t say that I’m a religious man
Especially in the last six years
But hearing these words once again
Reduced me, once more, to tears

Last night’s service which I attended
Was but one of countless, I’m sure
But while their motives are rooted in evil
Our motives are pure

We prayed that we be not called again
Such a sacrifice, to make
That we be allowed to merely co-exist
And not re-experience that ache

But I know that I’m forever changed
No longer strong and invincible
No longer attempting to use brute strength
I’ll change the world on principles

Tom Kenney - 2007

The Best of What We Can Be

I know that the “343” of the FDNY
Were the best of what we can be
They gave their lives to do their jobs
But we – I mean I – wonder if I could see…

If I could see the honor in running in
As opposed to running away
I can’t hold myself to their bravery
If I’m not up to following their way

I think that I’ve proven over the years
I can do the job when it gets tough
But I wonder if I could do what they did
And I wonder if that’s enough

For a man can only speak for himself
Not presume to represent another
But these men paid the ultimate price
Side by side with their brothers

Some of whom lost their lives that day
Had already ended their tour
But they jumped on the rigs nonetheless
As they motored out the door

They knew they were desperately needed
To mount any type of attack
They headed to the biggest job of their lives
Without ever glancing back

Their jobs, you see, were to protect & serve
Whether on duty or not
For firefighters are always at the ready
To give it their best shot

Danger and death are constant companions
Riding along on every call
But I wonder if those firemen were aware
They’d be claimed once and for all

This is the question I must ask myself
Could I have climbed aboard?
Knowing full well the risk I’d be taking
And what I was rushing toward

If the answer is no, I must reassess
The reasons that I’m here
For if I’m not willing to risk my life
I shouldn’t don the gear

I believe I’m willing to step up to the plate
And do what needs to be done
Whenever it is I may be called upon
To answer that type of run

I hope and pray it never comes to that
At least not by choice
But we – I mean I – prepare just the same
For the job that silences my voice

I think that might be part of the reason
I write about death so much
Preparing myself for the inevitable end
When it holds me in its clutch

Far too many lives, and deaths, go unnoticed
As if they didn’t matter
When St. Peter asks if I was timid or brave
I hope I can answer the latter

Copyright 2007 - Tom Kenney