for Jim Kehoe

September’s lovely in New York, the sky 
Returned to baby blue, the breeze now mild
As breath, and if you’ve anything at all
Important planned, now’s when to do it: fall
In love, begin a book, beget a child,
Marry, get religion, learn to fly.

September’s stunning, even on so odd
An island as Manhattan, of all places
Least like landscape: climate cannot bungle
This month without a more than urban jungle,
Without an ice cap, or those desert spaces
Composed of dust and emptiness and God.


September’s drop-dead gorgeous or it’s plain
Disaster here, airborne catastrophe,
Some subtropical depression, say,
Originating half a world away
And gaining, as it moves across the sea,
The turbine fury of a hurricane.

Still, September’s dangerous days are few,
Whirlwinds tracked worldwide. You can assume
Responsible officials will foresee
Such turmoil; you can count on your TV
For early warning. There are those for whom
This hasn’t worked, but it should work for you.

I know a man who paused to say good-bye 
With care to those he loved one morning, fold
Them in his arms, and just that slight delay
Spared him on a bright September day
When air turned ash, the center could not hold,
The quickly dead fell burning from the sky.