Bikeman is a story. A pretty exciting one at that. I've listened to people who have read the piece and can tell you some encouraging (and repeatable) thoughts. Most people who start reading Bikeman say they can't put it down. Then they tell me how moved they are. Even cynical journalists, like my old friend Jim Stewart, a tough and hardened newsman who covered the U.S. Justice Department for CBS, said he was choked up by the story. Nothing in all my years working with Jim choked him up.

Many who read Bikeman want to tell me their story, tell me what happened to them that morning or what happened to someone in their family or someone they knew. It sparks memories that have been long buried. I think this is because so much of what has been written has really been about a 9-12 world. Only now are people coming out of their shells to confront the horrible feelings of that day. I think that is part of what Jim was saying too. I find that they are not only ready to read this and talk about that time, but they want to.

And then there is another response that frankly surprised me. Not only are the readers responding to the poem, I believe they are identifying with the character. There's a story I want to tell you. It's about a cop in Nashville who read it. His wife is a musician there, someone I had known from a story I'd done while I was at CBS News. I had sent it to her to read. But he was the one who e-mailed me the day after it arrived at their house. He had read it after coming home from his shift. He stayed up all night and couldn't stop thinking about it, couldn't get the pictures out of his mind. He sat down and started to compose a song, which he called Bikeman. His wife helped him and it is now recorded. What that tells me is everyone, every man and every woman in this country and around the world will share in this story because we all shared that moment and that pain and that hurt. It is all of our history. It is everyone's story.

Click here to tell YOUR STORY

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

From a Cape Codder

First: Many thanks for publishing such a wondrous and beautiful poem.
My daughter, Marie, manages Books by the Sea in Osterville, MA and I was there helping her out yesterday when the books came in (only 4) and I sold them right away as there had been an article in the Cape Cod Times about the poem and how it was "hauntingly beautiful"
(Another order called in immediately)

Now the long story.
When my Granddaughter, Olivia, was in 5th grade (now in College) she had to do a project on the Twin Towers, pretty extensive for a little kid. I helped her so we both knew a lot about the building and how it came to be. She had called there and a very nice woman sent her a lot of info. and material for her to use. She even had to make a replica, in which she used venetian blind boxes!!

I told Liv that I would take her to visit and she could thank the kind woman in person. Alas, it was not to be.

Liv called me the day of 9/11 (we were at the Cape and she was in
school in MD) She said: "Nana I can't even watch because I am crying so hard"

I am going to send Olivia :"Bikeman" as it is such a beautiful and poignant rendition of that fateful day.

I wrote a poem shortly after 9/11 which I have titled

AFTERMATH

In the very early morning
Way before Dawn
The harvest moon shining brightly in the sky
Lighting my path and casting shadows
The wind rustling the leaves and breaking the silence
Along with the constant hum of the cicadas
Peace and tranquility
Until day breaks
And the cacophony of the news
Assaults our senses
And summons us to unbearable sadness

1 comment:

Cape Codder in Montana said...

I remember those Cape Cod nights of riding bikes by moonlight. Here in the foothills of Montana the wild animal population is too restless. Unbearable sadness is quickly transformed by panic and adrenaline. My extreme wistfulness has left me, replaced by stategies for survival. I highly recommend the Wild West if you are mired in sorrow and pain. I like your poem.