Read Write Poem Mini-Challenge Poem #4: Angels

Apparently, my muse decided to go in a different direction for this poem, the fourth one written for January 2010’s Read Write Poem Mini-Challenge (to write six poems about starting over in six days). We went to Haiti for this one. And I’ll say no more.


P.S. To see the other mini-challenge poems that I am writing this month, click here.

Death makes angels of us all
and gives us wings where we had
shoulders smooth as ravens’ claws.

– Jim Morrison

When the earth shook, the dead shuddered off their skins while
their hallowed breath escaped them in
invisible ribbons of night and day. Dust-covered angels
now wander incognito through the backbone and veins
of Port-au-Prince, trying to reconstruct their minds
from the rubble –

crumbled concrete souls in sundered pieces
like a broken open chest where the heart bursts out and
the ribcage lies behind, scattered
in ribbons of bone. Now,

how do you pray
in ribbons of bone? You form crosses
to mark where the angels walk. You lay
rib on top of rib to intersect in perpendicular
and let the bones speak for you – they know how;

and the palace, the parliament,
the homes and the hospitals,
the schools and the shantytowns,
they, too, know how. They know how to sing. They will
write their dirges for you covered in
ash, brick, and blood. They will
give you eulogies like they never saw
the needle or the bottle or the gunshot coming. They will
give you requiems like Mozart killing himself
in poisoned quarter notes and renting out his last breath
from the other side of Heaven. And if you want
to join the angel choirs that sing these blue Hallelujahs as they
walk the streets of their new world crumbled down, then you must
rip the song out of your own throat and
learn how to sing them. And you must do this
without choking.

But I hear you. You say that you
cannot. You think that you are nothing but a
flesh-cocooned, wingless, battered breath soliloquy
still loosely chained to I AM from long ago. You say
that you will choke, that poems written from
your own water-logged grief will rise up
from within your own chest and rob the air away
from you. You say that it is futile, and that you will
garrote yourself in the process.

But without you,
and even perhaps in spite of you,
the angels will still walk. They will pray. And they
will sing. Every little boy and girl tumbled beneath
brick like broken tears. Every dust-veiled spectral goddess calling
her dead children from the ruins. And every lost Hercules
perambulating in the bruised and moonlit dark on those nights
that are now jagged with broken stone teeth that
call out his name. Those ghosts, they will
bless the living with their sacred wind, with
violet songs voiced from fleshless throats.

And to the hands that are tasked to
rebuild these stone testaments, rewrite these rivers
of asphalt, and resurrect the lost of the nation
as new breath in flesh:

you must hear them.

You must hear these angels walk.

And you must bury their songs inside
every inch of flesh, dirt, asphalt, stone, brick and
concrete. That is how you rebuild a broken chest and
replace the heart within. You cannot do it
any other way.

Written 1/19/10
© 2010 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.

Stumble It! Stumble It!


About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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12 Responses to Read Write Poem Mini-Challenge Poem #4: Angels

  1. It’s so sad. Yes, we need angels.

  2. poetryaboutart says:

    I wish I could hear this operatic poem out loud. I think it would provide a catharsis for me, because it’s so hard for me to shake off the horrific images of the calamity in Haiti. Thank you for this poem in honor of the suffering. This line is powerful:
    Every dust-veiled spectral goddess calling
    her dead children from the ruins.

  3. Wow, I absolutely love this poem! Thank you for sharing it. I’ll come back and comment in more detail later when it’s not 7:00 a.m. and I haven’t had my coffee yet 🙂

  4. anthonynorth says:

    A marvellous poem about Haiti. A great tragedy expertly handled.

  5. derrick2 says:

    Hi Nicole,

    A wonderful song. I particularly like the sixth stanza.

  6. Tumblewords says:

    Powerful words for this tragedy. Nice work.

  7. nathan says:

    I like the way the poem ends with the call to memorialize their “songs” in the rebuilding — a powerful image.

  8. pamela says:

    Absolutely moving poetry about such a tragedy. Beautiful!

  9. wayne says:

    we have been to Haiti a couple of times…and have a couple of friends down there…so this was tuff…anyways well done Nicole…Angels…Jimmy Mo and Ravens..hard to beat that…cheers

  10. Thank you, EVERYONE, for reading this. I always appreciate your comments and thoughtful readings of my work. I had to write something about the tragedy…I just couldn’t let it go and not say something.

    @Poetryaboutart: You will get your wish rather soon. I’m either going to record this piece as an MP3 or video me performing it, as I’m planning on adding some audio/video clips to this blog as part of the redesign effort. (woohooo!)

    @Wayne: That quote had been hanging out in my head the day before I began writing this piece. I’ve listened to the American Prayer album a few times, and if I remember correctly, it appears in one of its last tracks. And I have to agree with him in two ways: 1) I think death casts a metaphorical angelic quality on those who die, and 2) the spiritual in me believes that many of those who died in the Haitian quake are still walking around in spectral shock, trying to figure out what happened, or in unseen grief. I couldn’t not write something about this. So thank you.

  11. Pingback: February 2010 Edition of Poetry Super Highway Worldwide Open Reading Online Now! « Raven’s Wing Poetry

  12. Pingback: Video Performance of “Angels” On YouTube! « Raven’s Wing Poetry

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