The Banjo Apocalypse

This entry is part 12 of 34 in the series Breakdown: The Banjo Poems


Revelation 8

And I saw the seven angels
which stood before God:
& to them were given
seven banjos.

Their necks were nickel-
fretted mahogany,
& they were strung
with steel.

Heads like almost-perfect moons
had one clear patch, one sea
where the frailer’s fingers hit,
regular as oars.

Thumbscrews gleamed
on the rims of resonators,
those round holds that once
were ocean-going gourds.

A vine climbed the neck:
inlaid mother-of-pearl
leaf & tendril to distract
any potential Jonah.

And the seven angels
which had the seven banjos
prepared themselves
to sound.

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11 Replies to “The Banjo Apocalypse”

  1. I like how I never get over the “Their” in the fifth line, so all applies to angels and banjos alike.

    Your two middle stanzas are as pretty as pearl inlay. Wow.

    I love the references to the sea in the last four stanzas. The sea comes in dreamlike, as it does in Revelation. The seamen’s aversion to Jonahs is fun. “Sound” pulls it together nicely.

  2. Thanks for the positive feedback, Peter. I’m glad you liked it, because I have a feeling you’ve spent way more time with the book of Revelation than I ever have. Good call on that “their” — the KJV’s “themselves,” borrowed in the last stanza, reinforces that identification of angel with instrument.

  3. I’m LOVING your banjo poetry- what a surprise! Seven lucky angels playing not on harps but on banjos. Makes me want to go to heaven, just about.

    Keep up the series- and let’s talk 5-string sometime.

    1. Oh hey, glad you’re liking it! I’m hoping the series continues for a while, but we’ll see. I do love clawhammer banjo (and tolerate that new-fangled Scruggs stuff).

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