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At night, I can hear the angels protest.
Please, please. God, not another tenement.
They hate the commute. They despise the neighborhood.
And with half the doors missing numbers,
they’re never sure if they’re in the right place anyhow.
And they always regret what they find.
The child, they can whisk away, no problem.
But the mother with the needle jutting from her arm…
Thrones, Dominions indeed.

Given their choice, I’m sure angels would prefer
to remain in paintings.
White wings, gold halo, maroon robe…
del Pollaiuolo does them a treat.
Signorelli, Donetello, Carpaccio…
they’ve done the rounds of the Renaissance.
But the inner city, on a cold night,
gunshots, fist fights, the toxic smell of subway,
no place for an angel.

It has to be such a letdown.
They have manger duty on their resume,
Madonna and child,
and now, their holy presence, beatific faces,
are required in some god-forsaken building
in the worst part of town.
But people die. They have to go somewhere.
Sirens whirr while shepherds watch.
And angels tread where they fear.


Australian born poet, US resident since late seventies. Works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in Slant, Briar Cliff Review and Albatross with work upcoming in Poetry East, Cape Rock and REAL.

© 2009, John Grey

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