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~for Leonard Cohen

You want it darker, let the volcanoes erupt,
darkness is what happens when the stars turn up.
Darkness is what happens when your breath gives up.
America, I write your name
in the fog on the glass,
and watch it turn to tears.

Treaty with the Devil and your food tastes like smoke,
there’s Jesus snapping his fingers
waiting for the punchline in the joke,
but I never said I was funny,
and it’s dangerous to assume things
from people you don’t know.

On the level, I’m not lying when I say it’s bad.
On the level, someone stole what little dignity we had.
Before things get worse, they have to get bad.
Let’s not pretend we’re in control anymore.

Leaving the table with my food still warm,
my stomach has turned
itself into a cigarette burn,
a wound inside me
becoming an invisible scar,
for the rest of my life
I’ll eat nothing but paper.

If I didn’t have your love,
I’d be counting the days
between my mouth
and the barrel of a gun.
I’ve never given Death a kiss,
but soon I’ll suck him off.

Traveling light hits us from every side,
children still ask
for the door to be cracked,
and I’ll always concede
to my child’s palliative panic attacks.

It seemed the better way,
to turn each heart into a fire of protest,
to shoot bottle rockets
into each other’s eyes,
and still hope to catch
the falling sparks from the fuses.

Steer your way clear of the cliff
if you can,
but I’m afraid
half the world is gone
like the moth in your dream
you woke trying to catch.

String reprise / treaty while it’s good
and it’s there for you to sign,
soon enough all that’s left of this life
will be the ash
of the poetry we burned.

Written by

Provocative truth teller, author of 14 poetry collections. Cat dad. Dog dad. Currently working from Portland, Oregon. Learn more at: Jaysizemore.com.

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