A Sunday Afternoon Poem

"The Terrifying Radiance of Angels" by Lee H. McCormack

This poem was recited by Lee before an audience 
of over 2,000 at JawsFest 2012


They come to us in silent beauty

Without mercy or rancor or wings

A terrifying radiance of ghosts and angels

Gliding gracefully out of the shadows

Under man’s primitive, unconscious fear.


They come following a single drop of blood

In one million parts water

Through Nature’s rapacious currents of hunger,

Bearing 400 million years of Earth’s history

And up to forty thousand teeth, in jaws

That, in a single lifetime, will receive

Everything the seas offer without resistance.


They come from the original, genetic

Origins of form and earthly Genesis

To clean the waters of excess and foulness left

When death takes over an animal’s flesh

And turns it to debris.


From the living oceans they serve faithfully

They come to us without mercy or rancor or wings

Worshipping the sacred, distant electricity

Of motions and vibrations we can never see

Guardians, takers of life, resplendent and divergent, these

Flying wraiths, goblins, ghosts defying gravity —

Necessary and predatory, radiant Angels of the Sea.        


Lee H. McCormack, is the island’s first Martha’s Vineyard Poet Laureate. Lee has written poetry since age twelve, and has undertaken intensive poetry studies with: Galway Kinnell; Sharon Olds; Charles Simic; Robert Pinsky; Thomas Lux; Peter Klappert; Steve Orlen, and George Mills. He experienced short-term critical studies with - Michael Ryan, and AI, and was a Single Summer Resident at Warren Wilson MFA Program. Lee is an original member of the Martha's Vineyard Poetry Society and is also a member of the island's prestigious Cleaveland House Poets.  


About this column: This Sunday Afternoon Poem is provided by the Martha's Vineyard Poetry Society (MVPS). With almost 200 members, MVPS is the island's largest poetry society. MVPS is responsible for nominating and selecting our island's Martha's Vineyard Poet Laureate.


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