James Scully  


The Angel of History


“His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are


—Walter Benjamin



blown backwards

into the future


he beholds only

the past

dragging after him


what a catastrophe

the furious wind

hurls at feet


helpless before it


his wings are spread—

fanned flat

with the sharp snap

of terrified sails


how will he fold them

feather on feather

before the torrent

of shock waves from paradise?



on his wretched wings

helpless to help


or anything


what he shouts

is spittle

torn from his mouth


himself, ever only

a single breath ahead

of where he has been


where even now


the surge of broken bodies

is breaking over him

filling his eyes, his mouth, his ears

with creaturely whispers


crushing with love the wings

that have caught him up

in so much misery





—from Donatello’s Version, 2007


Donatello’s Version.jpg

Donatello's Version
Curbstone Press