Daily Archives: May 17, 2009

Ein Jeder Engel Ist Schrecklich (revised)

Ein Jeder Engel Ist Schrecklich

Every angel is terrifying.  — Rilke

Close a door, open a door, write a letter
or make a phone call: endings are easy,
as easy as beginnings.  Small stuff,
actions we take every day
when there’s no potency attached.

What matters, what makes it hard
to end or begin, is the Angel
of Possibility who hovers on the margin
of decision. Who could fly off with us
clutched in her brazen arms
if we choose a false path.

I know too much
of her scarred wings
and fruit-toned breath.
Too many meetings,
too many flights into
sun and stars. Each time
I’ve moved into or out of something,
I have flown with her,
and I am scared of the height
from which I might fall,
or might have fallen.

That any journey
leads to anywhere
is terrifying.
The Angel who carries us
is of little consequence,
but I stay perfectly
still while she floats
at the edge of vision, near the door,

as I pray for my feet
to remain on the ground.


You long for redemption after death.
But redemption after death is a probable myth.

You long for that myth.  But all you desire
is a fiction.  Here are the facts you need,

as far as can be told
from this side:

death is final.  You’ve been digging a hole
all your life, tunneling away from it.

That hole will fail you and in a panic
you’ll dig another one to find dirt to fill it,

having given away all you dug out of it
as a penance ahead of the expected redemption. 

You’ll keep digging, filling the previous hole,
making a new one, always falling short as you dig.

You’ll be surrounded by holes up to the moment
you die, and then you’ll fall into one of them.  That one

will come out even, because you will have put everything
you rightly own into it. 

Someone’s going to trip over the pits you’ve left behind.
You can’t even apologize to them.  Offense continues

to build even after you’re gone. 
You’ll never get even.  You’re a gravedigger

and all you bury is the original myth
with every stroke of the shovel.


the cracking sound my back makes
when it’s overloaded,
I pile on rocks and rocks
and more rocks.

Carry them as if they were
wings, despite
their utter lack of lift. 

I can fly
strictly because
if I believed in the harm
I am doing to myself,
it would be

I will fall someday.
Perhaps today —

perhaps that burning, shattering moment
is what I’ve lived for
after all I have said to the contrary.

takes different forms;

sometimes it is shaped like
the cairn a man
is buried under, the one
he carries with him.

The difference between “poets” and “bloggers”

An essay from the inimitable Tao Lin.

I make no judgments one way or the other.  Just thought it was interesting.