John Sweet

and we thought that when the war was over the blood would all flow
           backwards, and we were wrong

or living like a wounded animal, which
isn’t really the same thing as living,
but there you are in your collapsing hole
with your open wounds and your blood trail

here we are after 25 years of winter

½ a lifetime spent digging at the same
small patch of frozen ground with bare hands

low tide

faulty compass

and what i find out too late is
that anger isn’t enough

is that silence isn’t an alternative to
suicide, but a slower version of it and so
                                                we scream

we make ourselves such easy targets

open the door and all of that pale, blinding
sunlight just blows holes straight through you

the fine art of kneeling                                  

and you’re tired of crying,
but what are you going to do about it?

end of winter and
the sunlight feels good, but the
season of rain is always approaching

the age of pandemics,
of secret wars and televised genocides
and, once the future arrives, it
never really goes away again

once the tyrants have the barrel of the gun
placed firmly against the back of your neck,
all they can ever think about is pulling the trigger

                                          all they can really taste
                                                        is your blood,
                                                                but listen

we are all believers in the fine art of
finding joy in someone else’s pain

we are all waiting for the next enemy,
the next lover,
the next good high,
and then it comes and then it’s gone

the first plane hits the north tower

paddock pulls the trigger

dead man in a dead man’s dream, and there is
always the possibility of waking up 
lost and alone

there is always the possibility of
not waking up at all

a convergence

or this idea that hope
isn’t enough

the truths of words stacked up 
against the emptiness of actions

was it a movie?

no, but there deaths and
there was music

are you in love?

yes, but it’s a fact that
changes nothing, and so
the obvious first

rain all day on sunday and
the subtle background noise
                     of self-loathing

not suicide, but the desire
                          to be
outside of everything

the need for a weapon and,
with it, power

shoot the priest and
then shoot the poet and
then shoot the president

none of them will be missed and
the future will always be
just beyond your grasp but
aren’t sick of the here and now?

you’re not alone

you’re not in love

hope is enough, yes, but
we’re born wanting more

we grow up with the soundtrack
to our lives always playing 
somewhere in the background

we grow old

and i tell you this and
                   you laugh
but you’re young still

i understand you’ll outlive me

i understand you’ll
come to hate me

how could our story end
any other way?

save us all from love and hope

was breathing in the tarnished weight of silver skies,
was trapped there between forgetting and forgotten,
21 years of pointless starvation,
air thick with the approach of rain,
distant pulse of passing trains,
and the child in the back seat made no sound

had no hands

looked a little like me, but i no longer took
responsibility for any of the pain in the world

i no longer walked
when it was easier to crawl

had finally become my father

John Sweet sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate NY. He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, and in the continuous search for an unattainable and constantly evolving absolute truth. His latest poetry collections include A FLAG ON FIRE IS A SONG OF HOPE (2019 Scars Publications) and A DEAD MAN, EITHER WAY (2020 Kung Fu Treachery Press).
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