Marty Scott

John the Revelator Hears the Drunken Angels

They shook it, and the wings, white crane chorus,
              Emancipated left and right, heart fist—
Shuffle from the gut, into the highway
                          Kicking out the footlights leading true.

They shook, it sang wing golden sheen, drove viper
             Mowers to the liquor store, white lightening—
A cup of Lazarus, no chicory,
                          New Orleans rising over strippers and chords.

And every word heavy and straight, because
             The girls were boys. And since they wear hard love
Complicated as chrysanthemums
                          They wrestle alligators, rattle lilies.

They hang onto the moon, dragonfly
             And lightening bugs, wheel inside a wheel—
That window shade slaps up like bayou death—
                          Sing it real hard, and hope the lookouts hear.

Mississippi sunrise, gray as Illinois.
             Right here’s the nasty twist of gingerbread
Strings, and the paper orange going to red,
                          The crossroads where the foolish deals go down.

So they shook it, rode their chariot to town
             Atop four seraphim turning inside out
Electric as dry bones producing flesh
                          Like fuzz on soap, or sugar on some deep

Fried dough, or like these broken angels singing
             Gospel. And this time through they drink the words,
Since Nobody can harmonize so well.
                          But the flaming gates are locked, hermetic seal

As if—God help us—No One were inside.
             Still their gospel tells of crowns and onyx thrones
And jeweled saints whirling on a rose—
                          And these drunken angels croak it, every Word.