The original meaning of Angel or angelos in Koine Greek was simply “messenger.” I personally dislike the conception of angels as merely benevolent invisible care bears with wings. If, like Rilke, I asked: “Who if I cried, would hear me among the dominions of angels,” and was answered by Micheal Landon or Della Reese or the simulacrum thereof, I would be appalled. Angels as metaphorical engines have great transitive power, which the angels of fad trivialize. And of course a lot of people commit the fundamental spiritual error of believing in the stuff our dreams are made on, and make a muddle or even murder of their metaphors, whether their engine is Elvis or the Holy Trinity. I suppose it is a matter of style. I prefer my angels austere, awesome, both beautiful and terrible, great invisible powers whose actions are beyond our moral conceptions and who can with a single whispered syllable utterly transform a human being, for good or ill. I have seen them; I don’t make the mistake of believing in them. If you direct your attention by use of such metaphorical engines, say you write a poem on angels, or pray to god, you properly do so not because god and the angels give a hoot, or because you can affect them in any way—they don’t and you can’t—you pray because it affects you, because the act effects a transformation in your own soul. Or the simulacrum thereof.
I wrote the above a decade or so ago. I still haven’t changed my mind about angels, prayer, or belief. My Lack-Of-God remains firm, tho’ my small a atheism has become rather deviously Qabbalist. I find, however, as I am hunting through the junkyards of language and culture for spare parts for my metaphorical engine, the angels come and peck at my head like moths crashing into a hot bare light bulb. That’s angel dust, not dandruff I brush from my shoulders.
After a long hiatus, writing almost nothing but tweets and Facebook squibs for a proverbial month of Sundays, the muse has been leaking out of my pen. She’s been having her way with my moleskine, pursuing the cursor on the screen with parapraxian abandon, slips of the keyboard spewing out hopeful monsters and alphabetical abortions–the spell checker knoweth not what. Honestly, with this muse, I feel more like an old strap-on fished out of the back of the closet, than a poet–or more like a loaded gun that hasn’t been fired for years, stolen by a junkie for a hold-up spree, than a poet.
Now that doesn’t sound cheerful, does it? But I’m not depressed, but perplexed. The wax poetical is not gonna put a shine on this stuff, the gloss is low, not high.
The Number of Amen
Alpha is one,
shingled in dragon’s scales,
the steeple that pricks God–
The carrion crow in cast iron–
Weathervane that claws the lightning bolt
from the darkness called sky.
Mu, Auntie Em, Auntie Em!
Forty acres and no mule–
Forty virgins baked in gingham pie–
Forty miles of bad octagons–
Forty whacks of a spinster’s axe
steamshovel root canal
Eta, eight monks daisy-chained to voltaic pile
milking eight maids eight ways from Sunday–
Pokes before swine
going Eee eee eee all the way home.
Aces and eights in the dead man’s hand–
The fat lady bingos!
A lemonade stroke drops the eight ball.
Nu, north of forty, the hectors are cheaper.
Go north, young man.
Get lost in the high rhubarb
if you know what I mean
mean what I say
and don’t spare the cherubim.
Nu, seven brides by seven brothers
square the Jericho
at the Gospel Jubilee
on the way to an unknown home prime
and the MOLS come tumbling down.
Rent a veil, y’all.
Nu, toot suite, fifty Cohens
bebop the rebop
blowin’ some hot shofar
doin’ a backward Euler
into a stiff equation
marching as to war.
Nu, fifty gates, get it?
Open up a can of Kapish and knit the wit–
Whip the sequiters
into an airy nothingness
See what I mean? Of course you don’t. Gematria and dense imagery miscegenated into chiliastic doggerel. I wasn’t kidding about the Qabbala or the junkyard. The divine afflatus…eidolons…? Angel dandruff.