Sunday Poetry with Jenean C. Gilstrap. Today: down on duke street

Sunday Poetry with Jenean C. Gilstrap. Today: down on duke street
Jenean C Gilstrap

down on duke street

september 11, 2001

right off duke street

alexandria virginia

the day began

like any other

early fall crispness edged

in sunshine and blue skies

meaningless morning rituals

laced in facial cleanser and tooth paste

after bidding my daughter a good day at work

the world as we knew it

soft and quiet

as charlie and diane

delivered the morning news

and morning chores were tickled

with feather duster in hand

8 bells and all was well

and then




news flashes

this just in


8:46 am est

hijacked american airlines flight 11

crashed into the north tower

world trade center in new york city

9:03 am est

hijacked united airlines flight 175

crashed into the south tower

9:37 am est

hijacked american airlines flight 77

crashed into the pentagon

arlington virginia

10:03 am est

hijacked united airlines flight 93

crashed in pennsylvania


no one knew

it this was all

if there was more

to come

more metal coffins cruising

over what other cities

waiting to be buried

in loathing destruction

no one knew


of orange and black


of sirens and screams

fill the waves

and in between

this news flash of another crash

and that news flash of still another

frantic phone calls to children

end in the ether of no reception

no one knew

what to do


another news flash

that the state building

had been hit

judicial halls emptied employees into the streets

like herds of wild horses

fleeing their worst nightmares

in the light of day


of people running across bridges


of cries and screaching cars

filled the living room

no one knew

where to go


a frantic call from my daughter

unable to leave her office

five miles down on duke street

as jet fighter planes buzzed by her window

in shades of red dawn

on this beautiful september morning

my world

the world as i knew it then

split down the middle

five miles in one direction

the pentagon burned

five miles in another

my daughter

down on duke street

alexandria virginia

running to my car

with bottles of water

because no one knew what next

the morning sun warmed by body

but left my heart

frozen in fear

my daughter’s safety

my only thought

if only i can just get to her

everything will be

all right



be right


was draped surreal surroundings

on my right

like any other autumn morning

sidewalks filled with pedestrians

lawnmowers buzzed

and the smell of freshly mowed grass

reminded me of freshly backed bread

dogs were being walked

people came and went

in and out of shops

outdoor cafes filled

with care-free bagels and orange juice

traffic lights tuned red and green

drivers sang along to their favorite cd

all oblivious to the other side

of the world

a world

most had never imagined

there on the other side

of duke street

arlington virginia

to my left

just five miles away

on that other side

black whirling clouds

filled the sky

birds chirped silently

and the sun rained down

in slivers of sorrow

the five rings of corridors

emptied in screams

and flames

as death on wings

ripped through steel and concrete

taking with it 184 innocents

the instrument of destruction

ironically named “american”

the pentagon was ablaze

in disbelief

the blue sky filled with fumes of fanaticism

flooded this nightmare

now turned real

down on duke street


september 11, 2001


~ image courtesy of poet ~

View Comments (1)
  • Plum Tree Books

    Great poem to commemorate the disaster of that day.

Jenean C Gilstrap

Since childhood, Ms. Gilstrap has had a love of words-of writing and other arts. An individualist, she chooses not to follow any pre-conceived pattern for the outlay of these words – rather, she allows them the freedom to forge their own path as they make their way from her heart to pen to paper. Her art work involves both photography and mixed media on large canvasses. She is a weekly featured poet in Yareah Magazine where her works have appeared for more than a year. Her piece The Granite God was the winning poem in Painted Bride Quarterly Sidebar #12 [2012]. Her work has been featured in performance poetry theatrical productions in Louisiana and her short story, Retribution, published in the Helicon Literary Magazine there. She and her gypsywomanworld blog are included as character/story elements in Ghost Key, the fictional work of award-winning author Trish MacGregor. Her first volume of poetry [2013], words unspoken, is available in both paperback and on kindle at amazon. She currently divides her time between her home in Louisiana and the east coast as she completes her second volume of poetry to be published in 2013.

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