Terminal Velocity

The Falling Man

I wrote this poem about a year after the attack of September 11, 2001:

 

 

Physics for Poets

 

The realm of quantum theory is the very small-

Relativity deals with the very large or the very fast-

Gravity is the central mystery of our created universe.

 

I see the man falling the falling man  from the World Trade Center.

Terminal velocity-

I don’t  understand it, but

I hear his body hit the roof of the Atrium,

hear the shocked cries of the people there that day.

 

I think of Acceleration in terms of objects… my car, hurtling down Route 95…

In the absence of resistance,

all falling bodies experience

the same constant acceleration.

That falling man,

that man falling head first, arms close at his sides

in his business suit,

from the World Trade Center

in the absence of resistance.

 

The buildings fell as the man fell,

Straight down,

Floors like dominos

Surrendering to the jet fueled fire,

an engineer’s nightmare.

 

Temperature is not the same as heat.

Temperature is intensive –

it does not vary with the quantity of material.

Heat , however, is extensive –

it does vary with the amount of material.

 

 

No time here for anything but soot.

The falling man did not have time for fragrance.

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