Mike Rosen “When God Happens”


Before the towers collapsed
into a white noise of bodies and strewn paper There were people in the windows.
They clutched family photos and jumped, became human tombstones falling
into the shrapnel of a city covered in the ash of its own citizens
a city shapeless and somewhere else writhing as it fell That night, I feared everything but darkness
so I slept on the floor at the foot of my father’s bed
it’s place where monsters and planes are made easy work of
That morning, I went to the window, I wiped my hand across
the sill watched my fingers turn grey
and thought: “bodies” but didn’t want to wash them
I Wanted to go to the roof, did saw the smoke crawling into the postcard,
the smell was everywhere, Wondered if they would change the postcards
now: put smoke where once were towers, address
them to our relatives in Texas and Carolina
where they were rearing to go to war say I wish
I wish you were here I wish you could see the clouds forming under
clouds I wish you could touch this smell with your
nostrils every time you breathe I wish you could run your hand through the
dust on your window and see what it’s like to live in the most
Beverly Hills version of a warzone realize what war might just look like, feel
like taste like, in your breakfast cereal
when you realize you’re sitting there digging cheerios out of a bowl
when they’re digging bodies out of the ground That day was not about your god or their god.
because when god happens no one is right These were times when we lied to our children
And when you lie to children, no one is right I cant make this any clearer, cause that day
had no black or white cause under that rubble everyone was grey
Under that rubble was no red white and blue Under that rubble was just grey. NOw I know New Yorkers,
We talk a lot — sorry! But I’m taking this one back for my home
’cause under that rubble was not your country under that rubble was our city, our town,
our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters that day, no one in New York grabbed rifles
we grabbed bandanas and shovels and we started digging
because our lives were under that rubble and the firemen were looking for the bodies
it’s been ten years, my friend is still looking for her father’s
body your war is not helping her find him your war has done nothing but add to the list
of little boys like me who wish to sleep at the feet of their father’s
beds my father worked nowhere near the trade center
but I didn’t know that then what I knew, was that the phone lines were
down and that until I heard is voice
so was he your war has done nothing
but add to the list of boys, in New York,
in Iraq, in Afghanistan, The list of boys
who are still waiting for their fathers
to come home.

100 thoughts on “Mike Rosen “When God Happens”

  1. this is so good! I love that he considered the people in other parts of the world who have been affected by this 'war'.

  2. I cant lie; tears are streaming down my face right now. Whether or not others get it, I loved this.

  3. When God happens, children are lied to.

    There has never been another reason for gods to happen.

  4. You changed everything for me with that. Thank you and praise god for taking me here

  5. As a muslim i just really want to thank you so much for writing this. It brought tears to my eyes.  Things were turned upside down for the victims of 9/11. I have a friend who was in iraq when the invasion happened as well. War solves nothing. Hate solves nothing. 

  6. This poem is not about the validity of God (it actually takes a stance on how the actions of both parties had nothing to do with a true image of God). The poem is about a difference in views in reaction to the tragedy of 9/11. The very fact that people are getting caught up in how this relates/doesn't relate to God shows the great misunderstanding of this poem. The speaker is talking about carnage, fear, the loss of human life and mourning it, how our response in our hurt was to be equally destructive and how utterly hypocritical that was of us as a nation. He is saying that people who really mourned that day, the people of New York, had an experience entirely different from the rest of the nation. New York City didn't get the privilege of having the footage being taken off the air because it was "too hard to watch" they watched it happen right before their very eyes. No one was there to pop out the tape for the scenes that were heartbreaking like when the people were jumping out of the building. They weren't getting commercial breaks, they were dealing with what was left. He is using his experience to show a contrast between a city and a nation.

  7. What a terrible day to be a child. I remember being to stubborn to leave the room when the news was on. I saw the replay of the planes crashing in the buildings. I was so confused and scared and only six years old. That was the day I learned that people who didn't know me would prefer me dead and my Islamophobic father did not help me cope with that reality. For years I was left in the dark- trusting what adults told me about our troops fighting in the middle east. We were there for oil, to stop the terrorist, to liberate the countries citizens. endless reasons were produced justifying the war. I grew up a little and now I know who the real terrorist are. All I have to do to find a terrorist is look in the mirror.

  8. This is a great poem, much Props. For those who didn't know, this poem was not about how he hates God or something like that. He was saying the incident of 9/11 was about his people and not people the media made it about. He was also saying that this war that is going on now only takes away from his people even more. 

  9. Its interesting to me that people who are so sure of their disbelief in god spend so much time looking up, watching, and commenting on religious videos, looks to me like someones searching for answers (: Sorry that you don't hear things that are parallel to your knowledge of the world and our existence, sometimes it just takes an experience to see things in something that seemed like such a foreign concept to you. Just because you are not sure of your own existence doesn't mean you need to harrass others who feel that they are. Love to all and I hope those who leave hate on here find peace in their hearts, God bless. 

  10. wow……….
    i havent seen faith move mountains but i have seen what it does to skyscrapers

  11. "When god happens, no one is right," I don't get it. What does that mean?

  12. Woah. I don't even know what to say, the emotion behind this one… I don't even know. Words cannot describe how powerful this is.

  13. Same here, only thing is I was talking to my mom about the trade center a few days before it happened and the she had to go on a trip for work. I had no idea if she was there or where but when we finally got the phone call that she was stuck in another country until they allowed planes in the air again I was almost calm again

  14. Thank you for the line of 'it's not our god or their god' Thank you for that Mike, be blessed

  15. This was another amazing poem! If you want to enjoy more poetry, please view my channel. Thanks, friends!

  16. I just wish that the way I related to this wasn't that my dad killed himself when I was 8

  17. People in the comments are missing the main point of this poem being about the 9/11 and not about god.

  18. I was 4 and living in New York when 9/11 happened and it is my first clear memory.  People don't understand why I have such a hard time talking about it or why I can't watch the videos we watch on 9/11 every year in school.  I have PTSD from it and I was only 4.  I didn't even fully grasp what was happening, all I knew was that planes knocked down big buildings and killed a lot of people and there was smoke everywhere for about three weeks.  I cried every time I heard a plane go over my house for the next 8 years until I moved.  I had nightmares that I plane was going to crash into my house, my grandmother's house, my brother's house, and kill everyone I had ever loved and cared about.  People don't always realize just how traumatizing this event was for everyone in New York.  Thank you so much for this.  This made me cry, but in the best way possible.

  19. Oh My God… This was amazing. I love how the atmosphere in the room was playful until he started speaking. This was so touching and unbelievably amazing. Great, great poem.

    I also write poems and make videos.. I'd love some feedback…

  20. so beautiful it gave me goosebumps. and the last lines were perfect.

  21. Rare to see a poet who can actually make someone who hasn't experienced anything like this understand the gravity of the situation, and feel the pain that he felt. Well done

  22. I've watched this so many times over the course of the last six months and every time I do I get chills. One of my favorite Slams.

  23. This gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes. I can really feel te pain. A poem packed with full of feels indeed.

  24. i showed this to my classmates who joked about 9/11 and they cried. time is passing, people are forgetting the tragedy and emotions that the entire country felt, but i refuse to let the youth be ignorant. i love this.

  25. I mentioned this to every class today, I asked my History and English teacher if we could watch it. Everyone was quiet, many had tears in their eyes. One of my friends who is from NYC was in tears. Here in California we talk and acknowledge but we cant imagine what it was like. We know nothing of how it felt or anything. But everyone after watching this saw this tragedy so differently. It's not just video and pictures and a memorial, it was emotions, community, hope, and grey.

  26. I cry everytime I watch this.
    "Your war has done nothing but add to the list of boys who are still waiting for their fathers to come home.."

  27. "your war has done nothing but add to the list of boys… the list of boys who are still waiting for their fathers to come home"i'm in tears T.T

  28. он заставил меня вспомнить о том, что мои родные тоже погибли там.несмотря на то, что они там не погибали.

  29. I love the hush that fell over the audience as he opened with the words "Before the towers collapsed. .."

  30. everybody forgets about the 1 million people who died in the middle east, by america

  31. War Is

    War is a stormy night, with roaring lightning and lavish snow, In a once bright morning filled with blooming flowers and gushing sunshine. In the storm we went, to find even the slightest bit of light, through the thick clouds we travel, with no relief in sight. Lightning strikes, through the thunder, the fire is spreading, all around us the wind is screaming. The monster of a storm was unmerciful consuming everything within its path. Through the memories of my mind, the events of the storm will be an everlasting trait of time.

    that is my own poem

  32. to the people who post their "poetry" on the comment section: have some dignity, don't even try. Nobody likes your stuff. thank you and have a nice day.

  33. Holly shit… I have no words for this. The only thing I can say is this is the single most amazing poem Ive ever heard

  34. I've been thinking about getting back into writing poetry I've been writing since I was 5 but have only performed in front of a big audience 3 times.

  35. I watch this poem every year on 9/11 so that I am reminded what that day actually meant. I am too young to remember more than individual snippets of that day, but I know in my heart of hearts that this poem signifies what that day meant to all New Yorkers and what it should have meant to all Americans.

  36. I am NOT a Poet!   I am NOT clever!   I think that Sarah Palin is a genius!

  37. My skepticism at the subject being 9/11 was wiped away by his words. The emotional froth so common in Slam Poetry always reads as false to me. Overacting. Not necessarily something I don't enjoy or appreciate.That these elements are all there and yet the words still overcame me. Brilliant.

  38. This is kinda ridiculous you can't blame the soldiers fighting for something the people they were fighting did.

  39. say that to the soldiers. THEY WANT TO BE THERE. Then you sir there, and blame the suffering and sacrifice of soldiers on A FELLOW AMERICAN? FUCK YOU, CRYBABY.

  40. i've never cried so hard at a poem before i can't believe how powerful this is

  41. Predictor
    Олег Гордый
    Predictor
    Oleg the Proud

    He holds power,
    On the whole planet.
    He keeps the passion,
    And he, for all in the answer.

    He, will not allow,
    The people of the will of expression.
    Himself, he honors,
    Son of the Lord's blessing.

    He is poisoning the country,
    Each other.
    In peace, he will not leave us,
    After all, everything goes in a circle.

    He, will not allow,
    Rebellion in the countries.
    And, the meat grinder will start again,
    And, again, blood is pouring from the screens.

    Wealth of the whole planet,
    For a long time already it.
    You, look for answers to questions,
    But, you, his slaves.

    The whole life of the planet,
    Only his game.
    They, created missiles,
    They created a war.

    The control is total,
    And, special services.
    And, even the wind is heavy,
    Such are his needs.

    And, the web creeps,
    On the planet.
    The national routine is rumbling,
    And, crying children, in the moonlight.

    You, further pour,
    About fascism.
    YOU, beat more,
    Blossom now is the value of money.

    But,
    Time is short.
    Who,
    Will she break the visor with a spear?

    Let people dump,
    From the faces of all the masks.
    Let everyone ask,
    And, do not save his excuses.

    The whole world is on fire,
    Smokes the planet.
    The quarry puffs,
    And, it spews a lot of light.

    Ah, you, work hard,
    And, do not look for an answer.
    You are an ant dependent,
    And, you will not see more light.

  42. This is one of the greatest poems ever written about any patriotic event that actually does embrace a native of that culture and land. as I listened America seemed not to be great- but to still house visionaries and heroes who can portray the ugliest truth in a way that continuously pushed against gravity the tears under my eyes. know that side of pain. And remind me it wasn't my country that was attacked it was his city…My day hardly changed then. But watchin that changed me in a way I already knew- but now know I knew nothing about..the horrors of that day

  43. "There was no black or white because under the ashes everyone was grey."

  44. His name is so similar to Michael Rosen, also a poet and children's book author.

  45. It’s amazing how the second he mentioned the towers all the laughters and cheers just died and the room went quiet. That speaks volumes about what 9/11 did to Americans.

  46. If that's how you feel, then maybe NYC should secede and leave the rest of us alone.

  47. Wow. Your war is adding to the list of little boys waiting for their fathers to come home.

  48. Incredibly moving.. very well done… my heart has been shredded by emotion.

    You have a gift.

  49. I'm a 911 survivor, ex-New Yorker and omg how "a city shapeless and somewhere else" indescribably perfectly described something indescribable.

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