When the Angel of Sorrow Dreams
George Franklin

When the Angel of Sorrow Dreams

He no longer dreams of heaven or processions of pilgrims
Climbing a holy mountain. The unfolding harmony of voices
Is overwhelmed by sour whispers, dying tongues, last

Rattling breaths. In his dreams, he watches eyes cloud over,
Cheeks grow cold, smells the funeral scent of lilacs and
Fresh-picked lavender, soiled blankets, and rotting leaves,

Remembers sun and smoke on the tiles of a rooftop in Jerusalem
When blood rose to the knees of the horses, swords,
Shouting, the mottled skin of lepers, the knobby ends of

Their fingers, the taste of water, iron, and salt. His arm brushes
Against the fabric of a curtain separating one morning from
The next. He watches bright-faced boys shatter windows with

Stones and break the ribs of old men with their kicks. A girl
With dark hair is chased down a darker street. He watches
Buildings in Lisbon shake and crumble, Huns gather on the

Eastern plains, refugees in rafts, suicides in rooming houses
In Marseilles, Cathars burning in the Languedoc, and always
The swelling, the fever.

George Franklin

is the author of Traveling for No Good Reason (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions); a bilingual collection, Among the Ruins / Entre las ruinas (Katakana Editores); and a broadside, "Shreveport" (Broadsided Press). He is also the winner of the 2020 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize. His chapbook, Travels of the Angel of Sorrow, is forthcoming from Blue Cedar Press, and a new full-length collection, Noise of the World, is forthcoming from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions.