Leasing in the Leviathan

Colin Dodds is a writer. His work has appeared in more than 250 publications, been anthologized, nominated and shortlisted for numerous prizes, and praised by luminaries including Norman Mailer and David Berman. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter.

Leasing in the Leviathan

Everyone aspires to reality
Toothpaste coffee nausea spiked with what horrors
need be conjured to get out of bed so early
to genuflect at the turnstile, bow your pate
to the resistance of the revolving door and join
the surging maypole ring and daily exile
—Babylon the conference room
or the living room or both

You may ask Who’s grist for whose mill?
But every word is harmless, a kitten harness

Seeking innocence in the devil’s intestine
you learn a point of view
It slithers in with the climate control, subtle but where it grips
around genitals, sewers, tattoos, laws, things irrevocable
backed by the unthinkable
The faith you lose is only in yourself

Germs travel farther than voices
But gems travel farther still
Diamond-studded apex predators sell clowns by the pound
declare your bible another handful of kibble
and say the die is cast, but not to worry:
They’ll always need dancers to sell shackles

The World they invoke isn’t a place, but a tradition
Work hard—do your level best
Maybe you too can be a fragment
of something that once made sense

Revolving doors spin into varieties of nonexistence
First is the nonexistence of having been utterly expected
and accounted for, well ahead of time
The leviathan leaves the rest to conspiracy theories
folktales, tylenol of the masses recycled from scraps
excreted by the honesty matrices of men who, for shelter,
refer to themselves as corporations

Old moral codes hover like ozone
over the matte-finish desk pills and sofa pills
of the Fortune 500’s predator-shepherded prison armies
creatures whose wisdom is laziness, who agree to die
agree that no they were never fully born
silent with solvency, content to hang back
and have someone else climb up on the altar
whispering only the word Taxpayer with conviction

Through us the world takes on a shape
that misshapes every one in it

The shape, the dolorous mother of the smothering dollar
offers insight to the would-be escapees
a hint of a model no photograph can contain

But the model and the model maker
operate on principles so different
that to say they each operate on principles
is the polite lie of a tired mind

There perhaps is the daylight
there perhaps the path
to the beast’s exposed throat

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