“Angels” by Benjamin Schmitt


I have met angels
despite those times I spent
searching for happiness until my sadness bled
crying my car through traffic
swerving between tears and bumpers

But I have met angels
always dressed modestly
always with a kind word
like the skateboarder who called me a good dad
as I felt ashamed for yelling at my kids
when I looked back he had vanished
this is how the Lord works
you may get the crown while losing your eyes
you may see perfectly for eighty years
without ever attaining your desires
you may look out from upon your throne
and see a crown in the sky raining eyeballs
and feel both dread and brokenness

Like crushed old men and pregnant teenagers
I have heard angels
maybe they weren’t angels
maybe for them to be angels
we have to doubt a little
like how a country can only be a country
if there are lines to mark its end
the angels sing praises to God
they spin sirens into oboes
they raise lonely sobs like a curtain
and the room floods with sax
they pluck the strings of the homeless evangelist
they guide all of our humiliating whispers
into the beat of a victorious drum

Benjamin Schmitt is the author of three books, most recently Soundtrack to a Fleeting Masculinity. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Sojourners, Antioch Review, The Good Men Project, Hobart, Columbia Review, and elsewhere. A co-founder of Pacifica Writers’ Workshop, he has also written articles for The Seattle Times and At The Inkwell. He lives in Seattle with his wife and children.