Angels Over Babylon

New Poetry Winter 2006


(The Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal r. 668-631 BC, Nineveh)

Sennacherib has returned
To haunt the empty halls of Ninevah.
Archaeologists have peeled his face
From palace walls and sent
His lion victories to London
Where the British Museum has labelled
His breastplate, catalogued his curling beard
And dated his kingdom
Seven hundred years
Before the common-era
But angels have watched over Babylon
From before the dawn of time.

 You must know that an old tyrant never dies
He was lying, barely hidden
In Assyrian sands of time
Granite fist and iron heart
Waiting for his resurrection day
And now mighty Mazda
Wheels his chariot across the sky
Sennacherib rises once again
And arms his troops of terror
With missiles, tanks and guns.
But the angels over
Are counting as the old days tick away.

 The gardens of Babylon are laid to waste
And a circus of fire is blazing
The fallen prince of darkness
Has seized the ziggurats of power
And the air is filled with dreadful news
Hammered on the broken roofs of Uruk
Whistling over ruined houses
Where abandoned boys are firing guns
And dead mothers lie with babies
Scorching in the unrelenting sun.
But the angels over
Are gathering their own into the hammock of heaven.

The evangelist of the west
Has his face on advertising billboards
And spouts the bible on good morning TV news
His congregation paid in dollar bills
To hear him promise freedom
So the presidential hand is on
The sacred scrolls of justice
And prophecy is in his holy heart
His great nation is ready for the rapture
And one by one the towers in New York City
Are crumbling to the ground.
But the angels over the
US of A
Are harvesting souls for a new tomorrow.


Beyond the moon, behind the stars
The kerubim keep their secret places
Hiding dangerous teeth and restless hooves
Behind a multitude of spinning wheels,
Gleaming wings and feathered mystic masks.
They are singing their sacred liturgy
Holy, holy, holy
They are watching as tyrants rant through the ages
Gazing without tears as vain kings lose their heads
And foolish presidents their reputations.

The angels are breaking out                                            
From their heavenly hotel
The keys to the mansions are loose
The chains on the shining gates have broken
The doors of the celestial stables
Are whining in the gathering wind
And the hosts move through the deep indigo skies,
They are riding the mysterious storms of history
They are writing new metaphysics on the air behind the clouds
They are drawing new maps of destiny on heaven’s blank wall
They are planting weightless footsteps on the ocean of time
They are waiting oh-so patiently for the hard rain to fall.


28 January 2006

["Your luck has completely changed today", original artwork by Jane Sherry]