Angels, drunk and muddled, stumbled from the bars

30 01 2008




That day, the saucers landed. Hundreds of them, golden,

Silent, coming down from the sky like great snowflakes,

And the people of Earth stood and

stared as they descended,

Waiting, dry-mouthed, to find what waited inside for us

And none of us knowing if we would be here tomorrow

But you didn’t notice it because


That day, the day the saucers came, by some coincidence,

Was the day that the graves gave up their dead

And the zombies pushed up through soft earth

or erupted, shambling and dull-eyed, unstoppable,

Came towards us, the living, and we screamed and ran,

But you did not notice this because


On the saucer day, which was the zombie day, it was

Ragnarok also, and the television screens showed us

A ship built of dead-men’s nails, a serpent, a wolf,

All bigger than the mind could hold,

and the cameraman could

Not get far enough away, and then the Gods came out

But you did not see them coming because


On the saucer-zombie-battling-gods

day the floodgates broke

And each of us was engulfed by genies and sprites

Offering us wishes and wonders and eternities

And charm and cleverness and true

brave hearts and pots of gold

While giants feefofummed across

The land, and killer bees,

But you had no idea of any of this because


That day, the saucer day the zombie day

The Ragnarok and fairies day, the

day the great winds came

And snows, and the cities turned to crystal, the day

All plants died, plastics dissolved, the day the

Computers turned, the screens telling

us we would obey, the day

Angels, drunk and muddled, stumbled from the bars,

And all the bells of London were sounded, the day

Animals spoke to us in Assyrian, the Yeti day,

The fluttering capes and arrival of

the Time Machine day,

You didn’t notice any of this because

you were sitting in your room, not doing anything

not even reading, not really, just

looking at your telephone,

wondering if I was going to call.




Neil Gaiman is a well known fantasy author, this is from his book of poetry and short stories, fragile things. While I found these stories worth reading, I enjoyed them less than I should. I would probably have quite enjoyed them when I was younger and would have enjoyed more the transgressive macabre tone and have been more surprised by the inevitable twist (the fantasy short story has never left O. Henry behind,  only rarely following in the path of the modern short story laid down by Chekhov.) I found the twist in this poem quite satisfactory, however. And sometimes, even when the twist was obvious from the first few pages, the concept was good enough to carry it anyway, as in the short stories  Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire, or in Sunbird. But each of these stories is about one twist, and I guess I want just a bit more to be completely satisfied.


I did find his romp through the strange world of American fantasy — both immigrant and native, mind you — as realized in Anansi Boys and American Gods, quite enjoyable. They deserve the obvious (when you read them) comparison to Douglas Adams and the Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul. They don’t, of course, measure up to that high standard, but that’s OK.




3 responses

30 01 2008
Euglossine Bee

Here’s a review of Anansi Boys that captures the flavor of it in an excerpt;

30 01 2008

i loved his original Sandman books about 10 years ago. i used to buy one every few months when i felt low, and would luxuriate in it.

Didn’t like ‘American Gods’. It felt like a pastiche of Gaiman.

23 06 2009
MUCH better version. « Euglossine Bee

[…] 11 06 2009 I wrote about Neil Gaiman’s poem, The Day the Saucers Came here some time ago (Angels, drunk and muddled, stumbled from the bars) Now, in a weird twist, some people who I work with are connected with it being an showcase of a […]

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