Thursday, August 09, 2007

Blue Angels--From Figured Dark


These are thy glorious works, parent of good.
-John Milton, Paradise Lost
Book V, l.153

Deep in summer and hot the roar
that traces the river road.
Blue Angels have come from the Air Fair
flying in delta formation.

My sons––not quite two, not quite four––
pick up sticks and waggle them at the jets,
testing the air with broken branches.

Under a limitless sky,
Blue Angels arc across the garden.
The Four of Diamonds hector the Opposite Solo
as they roll to Section High Alpha,
while somewhere north, the Lead Solo,
unseen by us now, swoops low across a runway,
doing the famous sneak pass.

The garden is filled with blue butterflies,
their wings dotted black and gold––
butterflies that eat only the sweetness of lupine.
Nothing will grow where lupine grows.

After the Fall, after the loss
of Paradise, when God stopped speaking,
the angels sang Hallelujah,
in voices as loud as the sea. Just are thy ways,
they sang, righteous are thy decrees
on all thy works; who can extenuate thee?

And God gave his angels many tasks
to afflict the world, and thus began
outrage from lifeless things.

I know Satan has the better part
in Milton’s poem,
but God persists in the face of all cleverness.
God works on and on, revising his mysterious plan.
Who are we, sweating in the garden,
against his mysterious plan?

My children are frightened; they weep
and cannot stop. The Blue Angels turn,
their afterburners light up,
the air is aflutter with indifferent butterflies
and deadly flowers wag their nectared heads.
The garden shudders under the thrust
of those engines––Blue Angels rising,
my sons waving sticks at the blue sky.

-Greg Rappleye


Blogger Talia said...

I just got my copy of "Holding Down the Earth" in the mail today! You even signed it for me, how kind of you.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

I'm new to your blog, having arrived via a search for the problems with translations of Zbigniew Herbert's work. But I've stayed because I appreciate that you make some of your own poems available. Few of us can afford to buy all the new books we'd like. I'll be browsing your archives.

2:51 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


Please keep in mind that "Holding Down the Earth" was a....well, a "beginners" book. I mean, I love all the poems in it, but some of them are lumpy little two-headed love children.


Thank you for your kind comments and welcome to my blog.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Talia said...


I'm sure the book will be fascinating to little old me...and I often find that first works are the best or among the best. You might not think so (or the author/artist) might not think so, but it seems to me one has to work so much harder for that first publication.

I'll be sure to let you know, though, and then I'll read your newest one.

9:06 PM  

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