Angels and Demons

I saw the Devil fall like lightning. 

No; an angel rising in clouds of fire.

The lines are blurred, our vision is not what it once was.

We are weary from wars, worn out from vigilance,

yet in our watchtowers we did not notice

that our love is not what it once was, either, if it had ever been

the kind of love that held us together even when we bored ourselves

to death with our own stories and failed to endure one another’s existence.

Deep down we thought boredom worse than terror and hate 

but the day will come when we will see 

that we’d have given anything to hate like we resented our boredom.

In wars there are only angels and demons

and they are all of one side, to our side, to their side.

Where are the humans?

 The heavenly host advances

while the devil’s armies plot and scheme

and the humans–

angelic demons, demonic angels–

are lost to time, forgotten, fuzzy streaks of stubborn grey

in a pitiless universe that demands the terrible colors of righteous battle.

“But they are immense, and corrupt, and break

the bones of their loved ones!” cries an angel.

“They wallow in blind madness, gnashing their teeth, dispatching

their terrible armies of universal ‘love!’ ” cries another.

“They cannot be allowed to live in this way!” they both cry in unnoticed unison.

Each side had the right of it, the right evidence, the right stories

the right way to love, the right way to think, the right way to die.

Out and above the killing fields, on an imperious ledge jutting out

over the scene stands the Observer.

She chronicles the battles, tallies the losses.

All the angels have mocked the falseness of that ledge, condemning its delusional objectivity.

“You must take sides,” they insist, not noticing the blood seeping from her wounds.

She was an angel once, and one day she couldn’t see any other

angels, only demons, everywhere.

Enraged and embittered and afraid, she fled into exile, alone on the

mountain, shattered and broken.

Until one day she found that ledge and crept out on to it.

If she looked long enough and listened intently enough, and stayed perfectly still

she could will one–just one–into human form

and at that moment love–the kind of love that stops you in your tracks, silences your

thoughts, makes that very moment a fixed point in time forever–

pierced her and made her bleed.

But she moved onto the next angel-turned-demon and did the same, and bled the more, and

wept at the pain, but the bearing of it breathed new life into her scars and gave them

renewed meaning and reminded her that in a world where faith could fail and

prophecy could fail and knowledge would fail and justice would fail

there was only one thing that would never fail.

But the angels in the fields were tired and frustrated.

They had long since patented every work of love

and wielded them with righteous fervor

against the demons as against an all-consuming singularity.

Love was theirs, they held the high ground, and now for the final advance–

Here we will lie down and weep, when we remember Zion

Zion is nothing but human bodies, bodies everywhere,

far flung to every possible horizon.

Zion is terrible in its stubbornness for the earth

in its refusal to ascend to heaven without all these beautiful, wondrous, worn, frail, flawed

human bodies.

But Zion is fled. Here there is only the crunch of corpses.

Angels and demons, arms and legs entangled, certain of their perfect love, to the end.