Handsome Devils

/ /

….. But aren’t they all? They never
Announce themselves: no cysts that suppurate,
No jaundiced sclerae, no mephitic breath.
….. Their lines are always clever
And their teeth straight; on that first supper date,
….. They flatter you to death.

….. Yet handsome devils call
Attention to themselves with their disguises,
The smoldering good looks and awful charm;
….. They shine at parties, all
Loud jokes and toasts till someone realizes
….. The room has grown too warm.

….. Angels, by contrast, stroll
Unnoticed through the streets. Arrayed with faces
Anonymous as rain, they always stand
….. Behind some post or pole,
Sport rags or ash-gray suits, and leave no traces,
….. Exactly as they’d planned.

….. They know a well-timed cough
And palm out for some quarters should distract
The murderer or mugger, but they’re trained
….. To throw discretion off
When necessary, to flare their wings and act
….. For what has been ordained

….. As long as they can hide,
Like heavenly secret agents, the aftermath—
They’re pure code talk, pure streetwise stratagem,
….. And surely we’ve all spied
Such angels, but we choose the safest path:
….. Not to remember them.

….. Why wouldn’t we? We’ve spent
Our lives in church and sprung for mission trips,
Yet every muttering angel we’ve ever known
….. Loomed more pennipotent
Than anything we’ve rigged from paperclips
….. And string, stained glass or stone.