With the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks being commemorated on Sunday, noted poet, educator and long-time Pearl River resident Dan Masterson shared his thought-provoking poem “Final Approach.”
The poem is based on a 1955 work by artist Jasper Johns entitled “Target with Four Faces.”
“When I saw the Jasper Johns painting on the internet, it immediately reminded me of the men and women caught in the high offices in the towers that morning," Masterson said. "I realized that there might just as well have been a huge target hanging on either one of the towers. I built the poem as though terrorists were doing just that. It is meant to be an elegy of sorts - an attempt to come to terms with the horror."
Masterson notes that “the word "Nabilat" that appears in the "permit"
paragraph under the title in line three is "Taliban" spelled
F I N A L A P P R O A C H
(an oblique rendering of a Jasper Johns canvas encaustic with plaster
casts: "Target with Four Faces")
Permit 66Q6391-1845 hereby issued to Nabilat Productions for filming to be completed no later than 09/12/01. Access limited to grid defined by Vesey,Church, Liberty, and West Streets, for affixation of a 70' by 70' cloth bearing the replication of Jasper Johns Target
with Four Faces.
- NYC Office of Film, Television, and Broadcasting, August 03, 2001.
Twin spotlights blast the night
Sky high from the bullet-proof
Windows, flicking shards of light
Into their stainless steel facade
That shimmers like giant tuning forks
Stuck in the veined sidewalk here on
Vesey Street. The dark will be held
At bay until the tapestry gets hung,
Its bloody bull's-eye strung high &
Taut against the 95th-floor extrusions,
Giving their corporate suites the dust
& acrid odor of scorch-blackened tombs.
Two young guns, whose buildings have
All been mountains, are nearly ready
To hang the target, a thing limp as
A shroud, before rappelling back down,
Snapping the hem-grommets to the pitons
They intend to install on the way up,
As they slide handheld willigs along
The window-washer tracks that ascend
To the pinnacle, trusting they'll hold
The canvas slings they'll ride in.
They're giving 10-to-1 odds they'll be
Down, coiling their mile of rope around
Their stanchions, before the morning
Bells toll in Saint Joseph's belfry at
The end of the block. But now it's time
For them to lace on their spirit-gum
Shoes & begin to walk the sunny side
Up, 13 hours before all bells on Earth
Will toll, when the target is hit & torn
Asunder, turning the tower to rubble.
Originally appeared in Hotel Amerika; it will appear in the author's fifth book:That Which Is Seen.