Poetry: John Sweet

Bio: 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 HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions) and BASTARD FAITH (2017 Scars Publications.

this country of polished chrome, these ancient ruins

made a flag from the bones
of dead soldiers, built a nation from
the skins of the natives

raped children in full sight of god

in houses of prayer
in houses of shame where the
water ran black

where the dogs ate what the
priests puked up
and we hid in alleyways
and we started fires where the
homeless slept

we were christ

we had come to stone
his lover

she said pain was better
than feeling nothing at all

st katerina, dragged against her will into a poem against poetry

you stand somewhere in
this metaphorical room

you either say
nothing is poetry
everything is poetry
or maybe you believe that it can
only be found and not created and
the people you call your friends
all stare at you sadly

it's the abstract bullshit we pursue
when not living our lives
and the fact that men have
been murdered for it is
a worrying thing

the fact that they have taken
their own sorry lives is almost funny
but my wife refuses to smile

she understands
the need for victims

she has measured the distance between
god and godlessness

and is there a name for
the almost imperceptible pause
after i tell her i love her
before she opens her mouth
to speak?

do the words even matter
when they've been said
a hundred thousand times before?

what frightens me is that
they might

in the season of pagan despair

 no shame in
deliberate blindness on a
rainsoaked afternoon

perfect reflection of a collapsing
building in a flooded parking lot

not poetry

not art

powerlines stretching from
this point of view
to that one

all ideas about faith and
hope lost in the fog

move closer together in a
darkening room

judge direction
with eager hands

the heart in terms of
giving and taking

what is given away with
regret should matter

the oblique 

sunlight in the
spaces between houses

map of loss

geography of both
memory and sorrow and
then what?

find the man with the
crosses carved into his palms

find the one with the head of
a crow,
with the mind of a jackal

the junkie hymns are
what matter here,
and the prayers
of murdered dreamers

gold and myrrh and that
all gifts are weapons

that all lovers
believe in resurrection

the heart betrays the body
but then the
body betrays the soul

ecstasy precedes despair

the desert spreads without
mercy in every direction


chrome forest filled with dogs,
with the bodies of dogs,
the corpses of children, and do you
remember the ghosts of
franco’s spain?

do you remember the lullabies?

understand -

whatever song you sing will
fill your mouth like poisoned blood

whatever train you put your family on
will be blown up
in the name of something unattainable
and the fact is that god won’t
take sides in any of your wars and
the fact is that even shauna grant
will be forgotten
given time

even jesus christ will pass
out of vogue

i can only be proven right
on this

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