Diabolus [Sestina]

I woke up seeing stars up in the sky,
a blanket brightly twinkling above.
But I could only guess just where I lie,
and knew no better from what place I fell.
And for a moment I was lost in stars,
and felt the vastness I'd been cast against.

What was it that I had rebelled against?
What got me tossed from beyond vaulted skies?
Was it that I tried counting all the stars?
Or that I turned my focus from above?
Can I return some day from whence I fell?
Or is it best to stay right where I lie?

You may think I tell myself perfect lies,
that I'm angry with those I've sinned against.
But I'm not sure my exile was a fall,
and I'm not sure I lived beyond the sky.
What of the freedom not seen far above?
What of the beauty seen amid the stars?

For now, I reside in the field of stars.
Where passersby told stories full of lies,
and I have no love for the far above.
It's just a place that I once raged against.
They preach earth and water and endless skies,
but not a thing is here that never fell.

It's all matter that spiraled as it fell
that formed this platform amid blazing stars.
A vacuum beyond mountain, sea, and sky.
But I remember that's the greatest lie -
the one that I had always railed against.
That meaning lie in words like "far above."

That word is laden with judgment: "above."
And where's the gravity by which I fell?
Can puny bodies be so pulled against
where exist so many colossal stars?
So many obstacles between us lie,
and so much nothing before reaching sky.

There's no "above," only a field of stars.
And no one fell; that's just a peoples' lie.
Nothing stands against me - no endless sky.

BOOK REVIEW: Angels: A Very Short Introduction by David Albert Jones

Angels: A Very Short IntroductionAngels: A Very Short Introduction by David Albert Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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This book offers an overview of angels in the Abrahamic religious traditions (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.) [It does take a quick dip into angel-like beings from other religious traditions – e.g. Hindu and Parsi – but generally comes down on the side of it doing a disservice to everybody to equate such beings across mythological traditions – with the possible exception of the New Age angel which is predominantly an offshoot from Abrahamic mythology.] The book considers the evolution of theological thinking on angels: how they’ve been portrayed in art; what they are [made of;] what their purposes are (i.e. messengers, healers, guardians, warriors, etc.;) and, occasionally, how they play into popular culture.

I took away a great deal from this book. For example, I learned about the differences between the djinn of Islam mythology and demons of Judeo-Christian mythology, and the theological underpinnings of this difference (i.e. Muslims do not believe angels have free will, and thus angels can’t be fallen, and so the djinn are a separate entity altogether [rather than being fallen angels.]) I found the book to be readable, interesting, and balanced in its approach to the topic. If you’re looking to learn more about how angels (and related beings, e.g. fallen angels / demons) have been treated by thinkers of various ages, without getting deep into the minutiae, this is a fine book to consider.


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BOOK REVIEW: Hellblazer, Vol. 1: Original Sins by Jamie Delano

Hellblazer, Vol. 1: Original SinsHellblazer, Vol. 1: Original Sins by Jamie Delano
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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This volume gathers eleven issues, comprising six stories. The first nine issues are from the “Hellblazer” title in which John Constantine is protagonist, and the final two are from “Swamp Thing” (the title in which Constantine was originally introduced.) There is a huge variation in the quality of stories in this collection, with most being compelling reads with an intriguing lead character.

The best stories include: 1.) the two-issue “Hunger” / “A Feast of Friends” in which a heroin addicted (amateur magician) acquaintance of John’s unleashes a demonic swarm upon the world; 2.) the creepy “Waiting for the Man” which draws upon the child abduction terror of the 80’s; and 3.) the four-issue arc “Extreme Prejudice” through “Shot to Hell,” which imagines a cult forcing a young woman to bear a celestial child.

The only really bad story is the single-issue “Going for It.” This issue is a stinker because instead of subtly embedding a political message in a story, it presents a political rant and tries to make it look vaguely story-like. [And if there is anything worse than getting a political rant when you’re expecting a story, it’s getting an archaic anti-Thatcherite political rant from the mid-80’s.] The author’s politics show through in a number of other stories, but not in place of the story. “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” has a great premise, but the “protagonist” (Constantine) is reduced to the role of passive spectator. The two “Swamp Thing” titles (“L’adoration de la Terre” and “Infernal Triangles”) also make for a fine story, but they’re out of place, and presumably are meant to serve as reminder of Constantine’s roots, though he’s a supporting character.

Overall, I enjoyed this volume, despite its few flat notes.


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