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In the Aftermath
9/11 Through a Volunteer's Eyes
by Beth SKMorris

2021 Award

In commemoration of the 20th  anniversary

of  September 11, 2001

For the First Responders, recovery workers, and volunteers who assisted 
in the cleanup of Ground Zero in the aftermath of the attack 
on the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001, 
especially the selfless crew at the WTC Ground Zero Relief Project,
Spring Street Warehouse who secured and delivered their supplies.


Human methane is not an expression one hears every day. Certainly not one you  expect to see in a book of poetry, but for Beth SKMorris it was something that was planted in her mind early in her post-9/11 experience as she worked as a volunteer for the WTC Ground Zero Relief Project, Spring Street Warehouse helping to stock-pile and deliver supplies to the firefighters and police at all the Ground Zero clean-up and recovery sites. These words appear near the beginning of In the Aftermath in the poem, Side Effects, uttered by a fireman who needs to change gear before rushing back to the chaos of “the Pile.” From there, Beth leads us on a journey through her volunteer days and the subsequent years with memories of a vast array of people whose lives were impacted by the horrors of 9/11: those who died, mourned, survived; the first responders, those who cleaned-up and restored, volunteered to help. Those who prayed. My wife, my son, and I were privileged to volunteer at St. Paul’s cathedral adjacent to Ground Zero welcoming the recovery workers from “the Pile” with food, drink, and conversation. I will remember this for as long as I remain on this planet, and I am grateful to In the Aftermath for adding a much greater store of memories to the place in my mind labeled 9/11.”


           —Bob Stevenson, 9/11 Volunteer,

author of “How I Remember 9/11”



“Through these poems, Beth SKMorris hands readers “today’s lesson” in never-forgetting. The haunting images reveal both the price paid for “the gift of recollection” and the inestimable value of remembering.”


     —Jessica DuLong, author of “Saved at the Seawall;

Stories from the September 11 Boatlift”



“It was such a unique time in our history when everyone in our country came together with a common purpose, dedication, and sense of empathy for what we had all gone through. It made the task at hand so much easier to commit to, get through and succeed in, by just being there for each other.”


     —Larry Liebman, Volunteer,

WTC Ground Zero Relief Project, Spring Street Warehouse



Sample Poems

No Relief


Narrow metal steps

to the warehouse loft,

bathroom on the left.

The staircase sways,

hard to keep my footing

climbing up.


He's leaning

over the sink

washing up,

stripped down

to his undershirt

and work pants.


I tell him I'm sorry

for disturbing him,

ask if he's done

for the day, finished

his shift down

in the rubble:


just came in

to clean up,

grab some sleep.

Can't go home.

Have to dig,

find my brother.




The Survivor Tree


Through the plaza, past reflecting

pools, I walk towards a Callery pear

waving paper-white blossoms.


Found after the attacks

burned and broken,

carried to a conservancy,


nurtured for nine years,

restored to the Memorial garden.

When I'm close enough


I see limbs reborn

from its gnarled

and stunted trunk.


There are offspring, too.

Three saplings a year

grown in the city,


given to other mourners,

other ground in need

of healing—







Glacier Bay, Alaska

      (July 2017)


Snow compacts. Gravity,

the weight of compression,


push the ice over the ridge,

over the face of the glacier.


Debris falls. Glacial smoke rises.

I cover my ears against the scouring.


Rocks, sand, clay explode. The flow

crashes on the moraine below.


The ship leaves the Inside Passage. I stay

on deck until the glacier disappears.


I've seen this force before—                                    


A sidewalk. A pit.

Scorched steel and shattered glass. 


Beth SKMorris is the author of two poetry books: In Florida (2010) and Nowhere to be Found (2014). Her work has appeared in Artemis, Avocet, Broadkill Review, Crosswinds, High Shelf, Pank, Passager, and Poetica among others. Her poems have also been included in anthologies by Hurricane Press, The International Library of Poetry, Whispering Angels, the North Sea Poetry Scene Press commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and White Oak Press. The author is a member of the Hudson Valley Writers Center and Poets House in New York.


Beth holds Master Degrees in Speech Science, English Language and Literature, and a Ph.D in Speech and Hearing Science from the Graduate School and Center of the City University of New York. She retired from a career as a college professor and corporate consultant through her company, Unispeech to concentrate on her writing. After a ten-year hiatus in Florida, Beth recently returned to New York City and revisited her volunteer work at the WTC Ground Zero Relief Project for the first time since 9/11. In the Aftermath is her “coming to terms” with this life-changing experience. 


Purchase Information

80 Page Poetry Collection
6" x 9" book size / Full-Color Cover
ISBN: 978-1-942051-34-3

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