Gordon Gilbert







Writer, playwright, spoken word performance



Dark Angels




Just a few years ago.

life was good,

before the fear began.

But then they came.

The Dark Angels.


The villagers.

All of us.

Always, the fear.

We fear to go outside,

although remaining inside

is no guarantee of safety.

My father no longer allows me

to attend school,

because to get there,

I must walk

from our village

to the nearby town,

and it is no longer safe to do so.


They say

a Dark Lord watches our village

day and night.

Even on the darkest nights,

when there is no moon,

he watches us.


They say he sees us

through the eyes of his Dark Angels,

that they come and go and destroy

at his command.

It is the Dark Lord

who decides who is to die.

No one knows

how he comes to this decision,

or why he does this.

We have done nothing to him.

Yet no one is safe from his wrath.

Why does he hate us so?


It happens like this, suddenly:

It was last month,

on the 9th day,

Market Day.

Earlier that morning,

my father had taken a goat from our herd

to sell at the market.

My sisters and I eagerly awaited his return.

He always brought us back small gifts

on Market Day.

I was walking to the well,

where my mother had sent me for water,

so I did not see

my father’s arrival

back to our home.

But I recognized at once

his loud voice,

calling out to me.

I looked back.

Father was standing outside our door.

He yelled again, “Dark Angel!”

and pointed his rifle to the sky.

I looked up to see it

coming up over the valley ridge

behind our house.

My father yelled,

Run to the orchard!

before going inside.


The house was too far away,

the Dark Angel too close.

I did as my father said,

and began running toward our orchard,

to hide under its branches and leaves

from the eyes of the Dark Angel.


I heard a crack like thunder,

and the ground shook.

I stopped and looked back,

but I could no longer see our house,

only a great cloud of dust.

Stones and other things

rained down around me.

Forgotten was my fear of the Dark Angel,

my only fear now for my family.

I ran back,

stumbling blindly

over rocks and other things

as I entered the cloud of choking dust,

my eyes now burning

from the dust and my own tears.


Through that dust I could see

only one wall standing

where once our house had stood.

What I saw next…

It is too soon.

I cannot say the words.

I cannot say the words yet,

how they were…

what they were now.

I can only say in briefest words

what I saw.


The first I came upon

was my younger sister.

Then the rest.

My father,

his body half-covering my mother.

My baby brother in her arms.

My other sister.

What was left of them.

I became aware

that I was walking in a circle around them.

I could go no closer.

I was afraid to see more.

I tasted blood

and then I felt the pain.

I took my hand from my mouth.

It dripped blood now,

but the pain was not enough.

I screamed.

But I did not cry!


Later, they told me,

I cried for several days.


I do not remember.


I saw my father’s rifle near

where once stood our doorway.

I picked it up.

It was not damaged.

I thought,

Rifles are stronger than people!

I raised my father’s rifle to the sky.

Kill me!”  I screamed.

Kill me!

But I screamed to an empty sky.

The Dark Angel was gone.

I hunched down,

and rocked back and forth on my heels.

Time passed.


My father’s brother came,

with another man,

a neighbor.

My uncle lives over the ridge,

in the next valley.

He pulled me up to my feet

and embraced me.

My uncle was crying,

but still I did not cry.

My uncle said to the other man,

Take my brother’s son to my home.

I was gently led away.

I took my father’s rifle with me,

nothing else.


Other relatives and neighbors came

to help my uncle.

They took the bodies of my family

to my uncle’s house.

I was kept away,

in another room,

while they washed them,

prepared them for burial.

Then they brought me in

to see my family

one last time.

I was allowed to remain there until evening,

when my grandmother finally insisted

I go to the bed

which had been prepared for me,

in my cousins’ room.

For a long time,

I lay on my back,

staring up,

but seeing nothing.

Finally, I must have fallen asleep.


When I woke,

I could eat nothing.

We buried my family that day.

Most of the village was there,

But only some relatives and friends

came from the other villages and town.

Many did not come,

fearing the return of Dark Angels.

Almost everyone was watching the sky.

I heard angry voices among the men.

Quiet out of respect for the dead,

but angry.

I was given a few things of my family’s

that had been found,

all that remained of my home.


It has been a month, I think.

I have no family, no home.

But the orchard and goats are mine.

For now,

I stay with my uncle.

Each day,

I climb over the ridge

to tend my herd and orchard.

I no longer fear the Dark Angels.

What more can they do?

They have already taken my family.


Not long ago,

my heart was filled with love.

But now the ones I loved are gone.

Because the Dark Lord willed it so,

And sent his Dark Angel.

There is no room in my heart for love now.

My heart is filled with hate.


Next year, I will be 13, a man,

old enough to carry my father’s rifle.

I will leave my goats and orchard

in my uncle’s keeping.

I will join those who fight.

They say

no one can destroy the Dark Angels.

Many have tried.

But I will find a way.

And the Dark Lord?

I am told

he lives in a distant land.

Somehow, I will go there.

He is well-guarded, they say.

We shall see.


                        Gordon Gilbert

                        February 25, 2013


                        March 19, 2013





All Good Works Are Acts of Faith

The Zen of Giving




What is given freely

With no expectations

Has a pleasure in the very act


Like that of dalliance

The brush of lips

Light strokes and scratches

And gentle touches


With all the respect and love

Of the fisherman for the fish

The gentle release




To give and make no show

Of taking credit

Transcending all youthful need

Of recognition

Comes with the wisdom of years




Still better

To make the gift

With no one the wiser

Leaving no residue

Of gratitude

Or worse yet

Future expectation

Of repetition

Both can change

The quality of friendship

Introducing inequalities




Scales are easily tipped

By the weight of obligation



When there is no way

To pay it back

Or forward

However well-intentioned

The gift becomes a burden

Devaluing self-worth

An affront

To dignity and honor


         Gordon Gilbert

         November 2011

         Naples, NY

         and NYC




In Praise of an Older Woman


In her green youth

Spring was in her step

The fragrant scent of flowers bright

Enchanted and seduced all men

As her beauty blossomed


Past spring’s green age of folly now

Before leaves fall

As fall leaves us

To winter’s stark bare limbs

And memories of younger seasons

Her fall foliage commands our admiration

Imperiously demands appreciation

Of a wiser, seasoned season


As fall nips the air

And her green leaves

Oh, the colors wonderful

Of red and purple, orange and rust

That always lay beneath

And come to light

Exposed now

In her fall!


         Gordon Gilbert

         February 17, 2012

         enroute to the fingerlakes

         from NYC







Dark Angels and All Good Works Are Acts of Faith have never been submitted for publication before.





























Gordon Gilbert has collaborated for years with Peruvian photographer and filmmaker Lorry Salcedo, doing English translations from Spanish for his photography books, and English subtitles for Sr. Salcedo’s documentary, The Fire Within, Jews of the Amazon. 


Their most recent collaboration:


Discovering Roots, a trilingual book for young adults for which Gordon wrote the text. The book gives a brief history of the African diaspora, and then compares two communities — one, African/Peruvian; the other, African/Brazilian.


Gordon is also a poet, lyricist, fiction writer and playwright. Currently he is producing & directing his play, Monologues from the Old Folks Home, and also hosting monthly beat generation writer celebrations at the Yippie Museum Café in NYC. An amateur photographer, he often photographs poets in performance.


Gordon is too busy writing and enjoying life to seriously seek publication, although he will submit his work when asked. Gordon has resided in the West Village since 1975.


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