Friday, August 1, 2008

Flaming Bronze Angels From The Omaha Airport

So another 60 hour work week is not conducive to creative output, but ‘fortunately’ I am stuck in the Omaha airport (going on 7 hours and counting) and I find airports to be a particularly productive ferment for poetry. For some reason, like 80% of the poems I write come from planes and airports. So I banged one out that has been percolating all week. First, an introductory word about my ‘poetry.’ Every time I share a poem with someone I hear the Smith’s melancholy British dig ‘I never knew you wrote such bloody awful poetry.’ I suspect that it isn’t actually poetry but something vaguely like it…more like stream of consciousness prose. Some day I hope to actually learn how to write a poem from a bona fide English professor. But until then I doggedly adhere to Chesterton’s dictum that ‘Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.’

So I spent the week in Omaha, easily the most surprising city I have ever been to. If you were to score cities with a ratio of actual coolness to expected coolness, Omaha would have to be near the top on the strength of a solid numerator and a very weak denominator. Chalk it up to east/west coast elitism I guess. Anyway, downtown Omaha got me thinking of downtown Buffalo and I got a little nostalgic. So here it is, six years later…an Allentown Poem.


Gabriel, the majestic greenish seraphim
holy fire obscured
through the condensation on
my second story window.
Now I see in part as through a glass.

Early morning streets,
soft with the cold cashmere
of untouched effects of the lake.
Street lights refracted in all directions
by the curiously clumps
of solid precipitation.
I squint to see
through my windshield,
carelessly scraped.
Now I see in part as through a glass.

Oh, Buffalo.
Where bison fly but never roamed.
City hall could be the playground
of some costumed vigilante,
like some obtuse Gotham envy.
And the great coliseums overflowing
with passion and disappointment.
Ornate Victorians,
the aging smell
of your steel money exhausted decades ago.
Your proud faces, rarely white.
Your rust belt glory.
Now I see in part as through a glass.


Corrie said...

Not so awful and not so bloody. Thanks for sharing.

BlackEyedSusan said...

Gabriel’s Gate
(for Stanford Gibson)

He never felt weaker—
intrepid angel—
trying to clear
ice-crusted lumps
from your window panes
with timid torch flames.
Hung pinion-perched on the bar,
glass shards break
against his bronze face
and metal feathers.
He who flew so high—
here sunk so low.

Is it so different, though
he thinks? God says,
Gabriel, make this man
understand. Routine, really.
But before, he’d had—
well—language at least.
Or some kind of shazam—
the majesty of mastery—
big winds shrinking back
of his bright wings.

Bronze in winter is dull.
Buffalo is duller still—
the hits of wind
splitting lips and streets
‘til bloody numb is where
we all come from. Could we
but see through the ice
windows! But Gabriel fails
to speak to us. We’re away
from Allen Street. So we won’t notice
as the angel abandons his gate,
breaks its bronze bonds,
and arcs up as a missile.

He is pissed-off at last.
He will brighten the streets with lamps of brass.
He will blow his formidable trumpet blast.

Anonymous said...

Ditto. As always, far too self- deprecating. Enjoyed it Stanford.