falling angels

he likes it when an angel falls,
caught by two branches, blood
dripping into the forest of the projects

brutal, brutal
the world sprouts up around him

he tells me he’s a simple man
that he knows nothing
he gives me lies
like presents i’m afraid
to open

i ask him what he’s thinking
he says
my mind is clear

he walks where legions of birds
protect his sanity
his legs growing lovely and ripe

i want to bite his calves
and set the moonlight free

i want to live in the dream
where babies are safe
bundles of energy growing
in their sleep

that’s when daylight falls from the clouds
and i read my future
on the six o’clock news

the stars seemed so perfect in motion
our bodies fit so perfectly in the hazy slumber
of words bluffing words
calling and matched —
the perfect play

he tells me that humans
are a food source
for god
our souls a crop
he tells me
that he hasn’t met anyone new
in centuries

i want to swim
beyond the darkness
where his eyes sleep
and pull him out
into the light
i want him
to feel the sun
soaking beyond the boundaries
of his skin
i want him
to enjoy
being an animal

but he won’t leave the place
where he is god,
pining for nothingness

when i ask him what he’s thinking
he says
his mind is clearer now

i want him
but he won’t kiss me
he takes me inside
the blue angel’s fallen playground
he puts mirrors between myself
and my laughter
then watches me hang
wriggling inside my lust
like a crippled spider
trapped in an alien web

i sit on the far end of the couch
passive, where the pain comes in

my mind is clearing

i know that pain as the first fluid
i curled inside,
as the soothing red balm
that seals my splits

a pack of starlings stops
on my metal fence
singing hymns
for 15,000 motherless
american children

the incessant babbling tower of my ego

my mind clears

he tells me
he’s all smoke and mirrors

when i ask him
if i was happy
in the last century

he lies

i can’t wait behind his silence
the orchids sweating
a spider sleeping in my mouth

we are walking
past the place where the fingernail moon
scooped up our flirtation
and dropped it on the dinner plate
we are walking
where the wooly bears wriggle
without thought into danger
we continue to walk
until the miles fill us
and we turn back

i want to sit with him again
at the coffeehouse
and pick the clustered crumbs from his plate
one by one
dissolving in my mouth
too sweet
i want to incline my head
towards his and meet the smile
in his eyes with the smile in mine
as he tells me about naked parties,
blond witches dancing under the full moon,
the pleasure of unrequited love

for a moment
our minds were clear
then an angel fell
she ripped her wings on crooked branches
and we were transfixed
the way the blood continued to drip
drip into the steaming electronic waters
of america
i cried
but my tears were useless
while you held a rag
to her bleeding feathered head

we asked the angel
if her mind hurt
she said
my mind is a dull misty dream

all around us the fools climbed
on the flagship
honking their airhorns at mice
driving from bar to bar on the cluttered shore
welcoming any face that was not their face
as the enemy

that’s when i told you i loved you
and you told me you would never love me

but angels don’t die
even lucifer
swimming for centuries
in lakes of fire
won’t die

the angel flexes her wings from our grip
she anoints our upturned eyes
with blood as she flies
up where the sparrows are circling
against the encroaching storm night
circling wider and wider
around a tall smokestack
then diving in a line down
into the brick heat
of our imperfect world

that’s when i kiss the blood
from your forehead
and you touch two fingers to your lips
and then to mine

it’s the romance of the falling angels
where the possible becomes the perpetual
when souls refuse to die
it’s the romance of bleeding angels
angels diving into the future
pecking at scraps of warmth and imagination
it’s the romance that isn’t a romance
the melody echoing down through the projects
to the coffee bars
to the towpath
wild with grasshoppers and half crushed snakes

this poem refuses to end

this relationship refuses to resolve

i am still in the passenger seat
we are riding east
into the past
it’s a warm fuzzy place
where the rejection is so complete
that it’s perfectly safe
you stop at a desert and get out
you’re trying to catch the lizard
i wait
i wait and i watch
how your every move
bends my heart

it is the last lovely day of the fall
i have wasted so much paper
writing this poem

wendy shaffer


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