Mitchel Cohen





Two vast and trunkless legs of steel

Like silent Pharaohs over Wall Street stood

Scraping the vast canvas of immortality


How many died erecting those towers:

Welders of iron, exoskeletal beams?

Manhattan is missing her two front teeth

Can you help me find them?


What were their thoughts on that morning's long fall?

Beat, you wings! Just another few breaths!

Millions of fingers—of Flesh, of Memory—

Sift and sift that ancient dust


Manhattan is missing her two front teeth

Help me find them!


Now, only a torn, disfigured pedestal remains

And on it these words appear:

"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.*


Autumn, impervious,

Mocking our imperial pretense,

Swirls her bluest skirt, whips her hips,

Casts the bones of September

Like I-Ching sticks over Baghdad

Throwing sunsets to die for.



*Stanza recycled from Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ozymandias," 1817.



Poem reprinted from Mitchel Cohen's The Permanent Carnival, 2006.


(Originally posted October 11, 2008)


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