Paper, Smoke and Ash


The huge band of black smoke broadens
Against an azure sky, how limitless grief.

No numbers yet number the dead, not ten-
Or thirty thousand, the still uncounted souls

Buried in a tangle of steel, a sea of glass, shoes,
Pens and ash. Whose papers — the pieces of lives —

Flutter in the wind, rising with acrid smells
That feel their blind way into our living room,

The eye-stinging scent of death? Yesterday,
The dark gray of pigeons gliding on a cloud,

Glinted silver in my net. That gray repeats, color
Of death, blown by great hatred, Satan’s breath.

This poem was published in The Pedestal Magazine in 2001.


All Articles, Poems & Commentaries Copyright © 1971-2017 Alyssa A. Lappen
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Alyssa A. Lappen is a U.S.-based investigative journalist. She is currently Managing Editor at the Leeb Group. A former Senior Fellow of the American Center for Democracy (2005-2008); she is also a former Senior Editor of Institutional Investor (1993-1999), Working Woman (1991-1993) and Corporate Finance (1991).

She served six of her 12 years at Forbes (1978-1990) as an Associate Editor. Ms. Lappen was also a staff reporter at The New Haven Register (1975-1977).

During a decade as a freelance, her work appeared in Big Peace, Pajamas Media, Front Page Magazine, American Thinker, Right Side News, Family Security Matters, the Washington Times and many other Internet and print journals. Ms. Lappen also contributed to the Terror Finance Blog, among others.

She supports the right of journalists worldwide to write without fear or restriction on politics, governments, international affairs, terrorism, terror financing and religious support for terrorism, among other subjects.

Ms. Lappen is also an accomplished poet. Her first full-length collection, The Minstrel’s Song, was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in April 2015. Her poems have been published in the 2nd 2007 edition of Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust and both 2007 issues of Wales‘ award-winning Seventh Quarry: Swansea Poetry Magazine.

Dozens of her poems have appeared in print and online literary journals and books. She won the 2000 annual Ruah: A Journal of Spiritual Poetry chapbook award and has received a Harvard Summer Poetry Prize and several honorable mentions.

Alyssa A. Lappen can be reached at alyssaalappen@alyssaalappen.org

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