Just What We Need: Thoughtful and Humorous Poetry about Angels

Armed and Luminous Front Cover

During this pandemic, many people have probably tapped into spirituality, even if they aren’t religious. Since childhood, we’ve always been intrigued by the idea of guardian angels who walk with us and protect us when we need them. Now, we could sure use some angels, and it would be great if we were cognizant of them among us.

I first read Armed and Luminous by Richard Allen Taylor in 2017. Since then, I’ve come back to it when I’ve needed inspiration and humor in my life. This is the time for some diversion, and the need to believe that we aren’t alone. The book is thought-provoking.

Taylor’s book is a delight! The author’s poetry is accessible and engaging. He is imaginative, whimsical, and skilled. He combines insight with simple truth and wisdom, and has a rare facility with the English language to keep his readers entertained.

Armed and Luminous plays on the theme that we cross paths with angels who receive assignments from heaven. Also, we find that strangers we meet might be angels without us knowing it. Taylor’s angels can’t always achieve the desired effect. And, according to Taylor, not everyone becomes an angel when they die. His angels have human traits like feeling frustrated sometimes with their “jobs.”

In his poem, “My First Appointee,” Taylor visits his niece with her baby, Zack, whom she calls her “perfect angel,” despite his throwing tantrums. Taylor’s niece asks him if he believes in angels, and he offers his opinion of what heaven should be like:

If I were running Heaven, I’d have an angel/ for everything, not just for annunciations/ and deaths, but one for chance, one for maps, / one each for happiness, grief, melodrama, / procrastination. I’d have a management angel/ to do the hiring. Accounting angels to track expenses/ and pay the bills. At least one angel of technology.

 

And you, Zack buddy, you can be/

my first appointee. Angel of Tantrums.

 

In “Angel of Bureaucracy,” one of Taylor’s angels tells of angel recruitment and training:

Whoever said Heaven can wait misquoted me–

/the hours it takes to keep this place running, /

 

the pressure, the backlogged claims. The hordes/

of adjudicated souls presenting for indoctrination, /

 

unrelenting appeals from those tired of sitting/ around in ecstasy, applying for angel positions–/

 

at least they want to be useful. The needs are great. /

God wants to maintain a two-to-one ratio/

 

of angels to humans. And that’s just Earth./

What are the department heads in other galaxies/

In “It’s Tough Being an Angel,” we’re told about the characteristics of angels and more about their duties:

. . . Humans picture us with wings, / though we fly without them, faster than light./ We have been told to avoid stereotypes: no rings/ around our noggins, no harps, no white nighties/

 

. . .We help people see/ in all the ways humans can see. To look ahead, look behind, / foresee consequences, find solutions. We help them be/ the loaves that feed the multitudes, if they use their minds, /

 

One of my favorite poems in the book is “Angel of Chance on Special Assignment.” Here, one of Taylor’s angel “characters” poses as a mobster, coming to the aid of a cash-strapped man who needs to win a poker game, so his wife won’t leave him:

“So I’m sittin’ at a poker table in Atlantic City when/ my subject, a hippy-lookin’ guy plops down between/ me an’ Mr. Cowboy Hat an’ drops his two-bit/ pile of chips like he’s a high roller gonna break da bank/

 

. . .But hey,/ is it ever his lucky day, ‘cause the Boss mostly don’ care/ who wins or loses except this time He sends me here/ to take special care of this guy. Sumpin’ ‘bout the man’s/ unborn kid bein’ a genius an’ someday findin’/the cure for cancer. Only for this future, papa gotta win/ a few gees tonight else his wife bugs out/ an’ badda badda boom! No kid, no genius, no cure.

In “Angel of Retirement Savings,” an angel meets up with Hansel and Gretel in their old age, reduced to poverty:

. . . I find scraggly-bearded Hansel/ and gray-headed Gretel, faces smeared/ with the remains of ancient gingerbread, /dragging the body of the charred witch./

 

. . . Gretel drops her half of the witch, / sits on a fallen log, removes a stainless steel/ flask from her coat, and takes a long pull./ Gin? She offers. No thanks, I reply.

 

Besides humorous poems, there are serious poems that affect us. For example, the poem, “Where Were the Angels” questions why tragedies such as 9-11 happened, if there are angels who watch over us.

Taylor’s poetry appeals to our emotions and causes us to look deeper, contemplate God and creation, life, death, and human failures. Personally, I’ve always believed that heaven, (and hell), are constructs. Taylor’s book intrigues me, though, and gives me food for thought.

It’s interesting to note that Taylor wrote this book of 47 poems in fulfillment of his M.F.A. degree, spending substantial time researching biblical passages and folklore related to angels. The result of researching the Bible left him with fewer angel references than he’d thought he would discover, besides Michael and Gabriel. At the beginning of each of the book’s sections, he runs a short biblical citation about angels.

I highly recommend this book for poets and non-poets alike, and to gift to family and friends.

Armed and Luminous by Richard Allen Taylor

Main Street Rag Publishing Company, Charlotte, NC

Copyright 2016.

To order: https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/product-tag/richard-allen-taylor/

Copyright 2020 by Charlotte Digregorio.

About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. In 2018, I was honored by the Governor of Illinois for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am the author of seven books including: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; Your Original Personal Ad; and my latest, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu by Charlotte Digregorio." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. I have won fifty-nine poetry awards, writing fourteen poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
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