A Tribute to the Angels of the Lost Empyrean

Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.
-VIRGIL, Aeneid

Smoke and fire’s darkly charring luminosity

glamours the hearth with silky gusts of gold,

like liquid flags blown loose for liberty

or salamanders hatching from the coals

in the flap, thrash and crackle of the fire

where all flames dance with a dancing shadow,

each reaching skyward like a molten spire

that glimmers with a moth-beguiling glow.

Into the pallid ash, softly sunken,

the wavelet flames cast a mutinous spark

impulsively, subtle, savage, fallen,

a cinder kindled in the formless dark.


In the formless dark, gyrating flames of light

flash impalpably; hell-flowers unfurling

their bright, bewitching petals to the night,

reluctant to still their weightless swirling

and sink to their repose. And as I stare

I think of angels born of smokeless fire,

of brimstone steaming in the breathless air,

an ethereal threshold to a sphere

of original bliss, from which arose

the fatal cravings in us that entice

man’s damnable will to ruin, and compose

the pandemonium of paradise.

Contributor’s Notes: Jim Newcombe hailed from Derbyshire in the heart of England before uprooting to London in 2006, where he now lives in a goldfinch-charmed garret beside the sequestered Turnham Green. An amateur naturalist by day and a cordial maltworm by night, he is currently writing a novel and a series of short stories. He has had work published in numerous publications.