Poem Response to Las Vegas and Tom Petty

When the music breaks your heart

by Jay Sizemore


No one expects a heartbreaker

to die of a broken heart,

and are we really going to fall for it again,

this narrative of the lone gunman,

devoid of motive

while those highest in power

pluck and snap the rusty piano strings

of an America in need of a transplant?


These deaths are so senseless and yet

so anonymous, so faceless and separate,

removed from the scenery of our lives

like extras from a movie

we barely pay attention to,

just bodies shuffled through revolving doors

but beneath sheets so their forms

may as well be made from loosely piled stones.


This is what we are now.

Just actors in a play we refuse to acknowledge

because the reality might destroy us.

It’s so much simpler to mourn celebrities.

It’s so much easier to pretend

that the air we breathe isn’t poison,

that the television screen

and its newsfeed scrolling

would never tell us lies.


Just keep buying the product.

Just keep binge watching these stories

of super-human deeds

done by super-human versions

of your super-human selves.

And when you hear that song on the radio,

the one about belonging “somewhere you’ll feel free,”

just close your eyes and imagine it so. 

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