The Celtic god Cernunnos

Jeroen van Valkenburg

City of Departing Angels


They stand on the corners,
opening wings like switchblades.
Underground runs on their eyeballs,
mapped out in blood. The posters scream:
You could feel this too!
Men believe and do not believe.
They pass broken cardboard boxes, too tired
to rummage for that last small gift.

The angels rise and drift
on brownstone thermals. They lick
the neon of movie-house signs, waggle
their bright tongues, but say
nothing. Soon they will break free
from the atmosphere, move up, move off.

Fuck you, one gestures with his tail.
Fuck you because you never fucked us.
You sucked the animals out of us
and left us hollow — glowing husks,
burnt paper bearing shadow words.
You never embraced the lion, the bear, the fox.

You never saw the lynx-tufts on our ears.
So fuck you, you sad forked fuckers.
We are off to roll in the fleshmills
of Cygnus and Andromeda
and you can kiss the vapour
of my sweet celestial arse.

Published in Grasshopper: The Poetry of M. A. Griffiths.
Reprinted with permission.