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From the Book of Byzantium -- Parts 3 and 4

by seanfarragher 

Posted: 12 March 2005
Word Count: 1214
Summary: Argument for the Book of Byzantium: As children are abused by adults, terror grows. As horror expands, intellect diminishes and lives are wasted in the pursuit of apparent gods, forgotten nightmares and natural greed. On 9/11/01 thousands evaporated into dust. That mortal wound reminded me of my own face when I was beaten and raped as a child. In the mirror now I am blank before terror was tasted as air failed and sulfuric smoke rose. (more to come)
Related Works: From the Book of Byzantium -- Parts 5 and 6 -- By Laurie Fallon, A Virtual Person Dead 9/11/01 • From the Book of Byzantium -- Parts 1 and 2 • 

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This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

From Byzantium -- parts 3 and 4

Tuesday, September 11, 2001: 8:48 AM
The Next Movie of Marilyn Monroe

Marooned at the World Trade Center
Visions begin. We fall down
with steel crashing onto
the old Westside Highway.

One memory: I study simple crows
languishing on the steps unmoving
and calm they peck at dust.

No, that is my dream.
I am a movie star in flight
as well as this man. I am
also the boy at Yankee stadium
nursing at my breast.
He called himself Edward.

Yes, I am the child of
diseased father and mother--.
Without safety I shift
from one harm to another
to return again. Somehow
I have lived these years
from 1953 to 2001
and will revive longer.

"I am the woman who fell from grace"
I ask how was it possible --
I am long pregnant?

If I pause will some die
in my place under
broken steel pillars?

Yes, I remember
as words trickle
down my thighs after
sex shifted yellow
window light to an
awkward peach and pink --
raw steak on hot coals.


I met the Director for coffee at 7:15 AM.
I knew what he wanted when I answered my phone.
He often dresses as a crow and I meet him
as Blue Jay and we fuck on demand.

I made him more human than bird.
He does not have to ask, and as walls and floor
shake on the 87th we were thrown outward;
his wings malfunction. His cock stuck
inside thighs. I do not give up easily.
He was not an illusion.

We are instant amputees
when we ride concrete dust
into the bowl and maneuver
former arms and legs
to roll fingers; my sky
glows as my trail passed.

We fall. I hold the top rung of air.
Why do I survive?

I live at the rough turn of steel
asphyxiated in wire, concrete
and plugs of semen left behind
for composite civilization
defined with out past or future
as silly condoms left empty
on the rest room floor.

Held down and strangled by gravity
I scream fate and sulfur smoke drifts
for weeks over the lower New York
and then out to the river Tigris,
and into eyes of 3000 who died.

Why am I alive?
Are they casualties with numbers?

I live. become "les autres",
and my lover another crow.

I tap on my own shoulder
in his bird's daze.

Did you listen when Ted Hughes’
whimpers while Sylvia
untied legs redemption leaped
to repeat books silenced twice.

First: death did it. Second:
Ted bled Sylvia's letters white

I crawl to turbid air
and edge by edge break open
the lines of Neolithic caves.

We have always been there
at the foot of the art
that makes symbol into
the flutter of arms
and limbs as descent
growls into discovery
of some truth written
down to be screamed.

I become heroic in this drop--
In one moment I wake in Alexandria
in the years 612: I pass many
stops and starts. Time falters
as Sappho strophes. What year is it?
Is it 745 AD in Damascus?
I loved Paris in May and June 1968
and Tel Aviv in 1965 was pure.

"Human kind will emerge to Renaissance,"

I shriek as I fall.
I love my milky breasts
They compare to the Pieta,
not that you can see her under
that gown he sculptured
long before the World Trade Center.

Hold us Crow!
Strings of lead drop
from North tower,
I recall everything
I am now Edward
child of Teresa.
Marilyn passes my
lips as I kiss what
was before it exists.

After my mother's
natural death,
I murdered memory--
prurient fables.

I crawl easily out window
made the long last step
and I tumble out of history
and into another plateau
where sky is violent cherry
with the taste of glue
recalled in notebooks
dog eared and dirty --
I create that blank
dimension where mutation
was gained and we waited
in line for another
ending to ride out
of the building
and exit by elevator;
sex in the vestibule
becomes more than life
renewed or Christmas
party in a brokerage
house during a bull
market when prices roar.


Nothing plots. New plans confirmed.
Answers are wrong. Notes destroyed --
Here is Marilyn's maze as she traveled.

Inside the absolute island of Crete
she collect broken icons to hold
the lost origin so we escape
as a pattern of disconsolate
number theory equations proven wrong--

I played with God in a musical.
wrote the book when I was ten.
The music never played.
I loved my parents.
Later, in silent death
I assumed a fabricated life.

Crow, I agree to your deal.
How can I survive as I jump
off the edge of the window?

Crow, push me out of purgatory.
Crow, are you listening?
I do not know the answers.
You said you knew everything --
promised redemption --
but I smash to the ground
with my crushed skull
bound inside femur.


"The horizon is black, blank
and the landmark has vanished."


From Byzantium -- Part 4
Broken Heart

There's more to death than standing
at a firing squad and suffering extinction.
It's not that simple.
Lights are put out and terror bleeds
by heroic steps caught in the outer mind's rise
within humble miracle of American Airline Jets
when fear ripped from rage and guilt into depression.

While the assorted "leaders"
of the world slam war into peace
and break the windows of a brokerage house
on quiet day in September, does it matter
that the street's Vesey in New York City
or some grand boulevard in Vienna
before and after WW1 or Hiroshima.

I imagine Adolph Hitler separate from time.
He grew in a fraudulent frame. If he had been
murdered in 1930 would his war have stopped?

Today, I worship souls who died
jumping from the 90th floor.

Can you imagine the look of the clouds
surprised with Houdini trickery?

When your spine liquefies, bones and muscles
quiver and in final response your heart
softens, flat and without emotion.

If you are lucky you have no memory –
not that there can be your life again.
Are you the hero of the death?

"What choice did I have,"
you scream at the ice cream man
whittling his confectionary fingertips.

Where is the glory? You die without
ceremony and medals. Are you empty?
The river below is not called "Victory"
It is not a river but an esturary
a drowned sea, an place where salt
and fresh water mingle as lovers will.

The Top Sgt. said, "No dead man can be a coward" --
If you calculate tides from old fashioned spectra --
that's a redundant promise with a false bottom
made by your father who ordered you to fellatio
while he beat your nine year old skin
as steak bone grilled for Sunday dinner.

You never forgive mother as one witness of abuse
She in her isolation called as the Siren,
lifting you to her bed for immortal comfort
as Aphrodite did or Athena might the Lord Daedalus.

The present is more than the
summary of 2001 or more than
the destruction of a monument.


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Comments by other Members

crowspark at 19:24 on 12 March 2005  Report this post
Hi Sean,

Reading your poem is a remarkable experience. I have read several of your poems and they make feel uncomfortable - a good sign.

I am intrigued by my perceived link between 9/11 and Yeats. My own link would be his Second Coming which I first read at the time of the "first" Gulf War. The poem had an almost physical impact on me which I related to current events. Perhaps it appealed to forgotten nightmares.

I look forward to reading more.


Mac AM at 19:45 on 12 March 2005  Report this post
Hey Sean,

Try helping out with some crits - its good to read as well as to be read.


seanfarragher at 20:18 on 12 March 2005  Report this post
Will do.

fevvers at 13:45 on 14 March 2005  Report this post
Hello Sean

I know it's difficult when you've written a long piece of writing to have it divided into sections, but I think it might help us to give feedback if we read this sequence in parts.

I suggest , if you don't mind, that we look at sections 1 and 2 to start off with. In this way, the feedback you get might be more specific than general. This isn't to say long poems are not important, because they are, it's just it would be fairer to you if the feedback you get is as detailed as if this was a shorter poem. Is that okay?



I realise this is from a much, much longer piece

seanfarragher at 14:06 on 14 March 2005  Report this post
Parts I and II were posted first and now are in Archive. If you think it works, I will leave two parts up for a week not two days. That way I hope we can share the insight of the group. I will in turn review the work of the group as they appear. I also have poems posted in Poetry IV group but they are not directly related (except written in same time frame) to the poems for Byzantium. As a human being I was changed by 9/11. Working as a taxi driver I spoke to many of the living victims of the disaster. Living in proxmity to that terror (but not apart of the terror) I changed as a person and my poetry focused on what it means to be human. At 62 years perhaps I might have learned something at least about my life. Of course, I learned how much I do not know. From that the poem will grow and create that fabric called past.


Thank You, I am sorry I could have included that with the first message, but it slipped away. Never too late to thank people for their mind-time.

and of course,


When I am writewords I feels as if I am at McDaids pub having a non-conventional tutorial with the critic Alec Reid. It is 1972, of course, several life times earlier, and as a Trinity (Dublin) student I feel as if I am on a great journey.

fevvers at 14:20 on 14 March 2005  Report this post
Hi Sean

You must have been reading my mind about posting up for a week.

When I talked about parts one and two, I meant the parts one and two you have in this section, from 'Marooned' to 'hot coal'; purely to make it manageable to give detailed feedback. I would suggest you keep this uploaded, so we can refer to it when we need to, but that you post up the first two sections of this piece separately. I'm very interested in the work, but need time and space to see what it's doing.


seanfarragher at 14:25 on 14 March 2005  Report this post
Thanks again, and yes, Parts I and II of the whole poem are in the archive and will stay there for as long as necessary. I truly appreciate all the help you can offer, and time is precious for all of us, and I thank you in advance for yours.



Nell at 08:14 on 17 March 2005  Report this post
Sean, I've been reading this almost daily since you posted it, but need a little more time. I will return!


seanfarragher at 09:52 on 17 March 2005  Report this post
Nell, Thank You. I will leave up in the seminar group these sections of the poem for at least two weeks before posting the next section.

Nell at 17:16 on 17 March 2005  Report this post
Sean, it's almost as if your poem must be studied from the beginning to find a cipher to unlock a narrative that seems so strong it pushes the poetry of sound and rhythm into second place. For me it's a curious mixture of the confusing and the compelling; visions prompted by 9/11. Were you really marooned? The memory of crows is simple and feels true until you tell us that it's a dream, and that you're both Marilyn and your present self, nursing yourself at age ten - an extraordinary image. And the following stanza seems to suggest that you only began to live when you first saw Marilyn at the Stadium in 1953.

"I am the woman who fell from grace" feels like a quote, but I couldn't place it, although it could refer to Eve. Reading on to #3 I wonder if this is the woman referred to in #2 whose experience made me think of miscarriage until I read #3. And again the enigmatic crow appears - or rather a reference to a crow - dark suit, or is that too simple? What follows is a disturbing avalanche of sensation, tumbling thoughts and maybe ancestral memory. The word 'silly' pulled me out of the mood momentarily, but the description seemed apt. I'll end here (end of #3) as this is deep and overwhelming in large doses, but there's passion in your writing and if it's forgivable to say so (given the subject matter) you're a courageous enough poet to leap into the void to fly with your crows. I'm not sure if these comments will be helpful, except to know how the poem comes across to one of reasonable education and intelligence with long experience of reading poetry but not of offering constructive criticism.


seanfarragher at 18:32 on 17 March 2005  Report this post
Your critique was wonderful. I need to know and see the poem's inconsistencies from another Point ot view. The crow image, Marilyn Monroe and the day (9/11) itself as evolved with the poem. They continue to evolve. Long poems are not written over a weekend. They evolve.

I was particularly struck by your observation "to unlock a narrative that seems so strong it pushes the poetry of sound and rhythm into second place." Several have suggested that I could write this piece as prose. I actually have several difficult (subject matter) prose pieces in this work.

It may be an impossible poem to read in sections, but I need the critque as I stated above. If you can just point out inconsistencies that in itself would be a great help. I may keep them or use the inconsistent passages but shift them so they are more accessible to the reader.

I am not against accessiblity, but the energy of the poem sometimes pushes outside the actual and into the virtual world of words larger than life.

Thank You.

Thank You to anyone who wishes to help. I will of course reciprocate by reading and reviewing the work of contstructive reviews of my work.


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