(for W. Gregory Stewart)


Of course you want to smash them. So did I

when my hand, independent of my will,

splattered them all around you, the sick spawn

of something not my own imagination,

babies with wings. Like you, I wished them gone

in words I now hold unrepeatable:

I begged wings of my own, that I might fly

to where such images could never be.

But then they spoke to me, and, in elation,

I understood at last: this wasn’t how

they’d always look, but just their larval stage.

Give them, at most, another century,

and they’ll be full-grown agents of God’s rage,

world-rending kerubhim. Feel better now?



–Tom Riley


(First appeared in Star*Line, May-June 1987.)