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Jesse Hilson: Because The Devil Waits/The Iron Curtain

Image: Unsplash, downloaded ( 13.11.2021.


I like Christian music.

But if the lyrics are in a foreign language.

Because the Devil waits somewhere in dictionaries.

And keeps a careful finger in each hymn.

Wherever I can understand a word that’s sung,

A little conduit of fear is carved.

And the lyrics to love songs are like tar-pits,

Spiderwebs that span the entire dial.

I was caught inside the trap for decades.

Love songs lurked. They took away all thought.

As I drove to work they solicited

Another more general heart inside another me.

But marriage always hides the sharp edges

Concealed within each love song on the radio.

The happily married are deaf.

They can’t hear the bite within the song

The way that you and I can,

Until we wish we had no English ears to hear.


“Give me to drink mandragora… that I might sleep out this great gap of time my Antony is away.”

—William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

Lady of reeds,

What about our Facetime symmetry

Makes you want to see half only?

Encrypt for me a tender telegram

And push the dusky parallelogram

Of topaz light all Sunday afternoon

Across the walls, the mote-swarmed western room

(My lodge, my far-from-Nile station)

To ooze across my Oriental carpet

Where the golden flowers’ coronation

Always is devoured by a latticework of jade.

Like a glitchy console you reset me,

And an inner maintenance is made

Whenever I’m brought back around to zero. Let me

Remember where I’m fixed so when I’m broken

I’ll have hope enough to wait until the wheel

Made of those uneven spokes has spoken.

With you a sometime fearlessness I feel.

You’d think this spark of courage would suffice

To motivating us into seizing life.

This toll-mirage between us, though, this “fact of ice”

Has a certain way of freezing life.

Game pieces would together hesitate

Outside the winning circle, wouldn’t dare.

Meanwhile Germanic deer today migrate

As though the Iron Curtain were still there.

About the Author: Jesse Hilson is a writer and artist living in the Catskills in New York State, USA. His writing has appeared in AZURE, Maudlin House, Pink Plastic House, Rejection Letters, Punk Noir, ExPat Press, Misery Tourism, Windows Facing Windows Review, Orchid's Lantern and elsewhere. His comics will appear in Misery Tourism, Bear Creek Gazette, and Excuse Me Mag. His novel Blood Trip will appear from Close to the Bone in 2022. His poetry chapbook Handcuffing the Venus De Milo will be published by The Sparrow's Trombone in 2022. He can be reached on Twitter at @platelet60.


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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