Jack Howard – The Falling Man


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Studio 2:55 Jack Howard Songs For Longing – The Poems Of Dawson Hann EP. Moderately common. Available new in digital form.

Recommended Version.






On September the eleventh, in America,
In the first true year of the millennium,
I watched on television men and women
Jumping to their actual deaths.
Two hundred, perhaps, though the bodies
Weren’t for counting in the final rubble.
Each decided the manner of their execution:
Incineration (apocalypse style), or free fall
Into the waiting gift of air.
All this was later denied, foolishly.
One became famous. A single frame
Extracted from the grim cinema
Of all these dives of death.
He became known as The Falling Man;
Upside down, his splayed legs
Dancing a cruel parodic dance of flight.
His context was circumscribed; the tower
Not yet down, all you see is the mosaic
Of sky-scraper windows; no fear-whitened faces
Distract from him. The building’s wound,
The blackening smoke, is out of frame.
To this day, no one knows his name.

He fell before the tower, prepared its way.

A hundred or so floors of concrete and steel
Followed his path; his tomb Ground Zero:
The apotheosis of erasure, nullity.
He lay like the tens of million others,
In the Somme, Dresden, Kampuchea,
Unmarked, “known only to God.”
He is both the hero and the victim
Of these times; for all of us he falls,
Always, upended into the air’s indifference.


July, 2006

[Dawson Hann]