By John Sweet

a beautiful failure

like dogs running
through frozen fields

like february sunlight on
dirty ice

blue skies cut by powerlines and
dying gods left where they lie

abandoned factories
and empty warehouses

this is the place

meaningless words casting
distorted shadows and you w/ a
full tank of gas

you w/ a loaded shotgun

the last 20 years of yr life
spent turning in the
wrong direction

choosing not to choose

closing yr eyes whenever
the crucial moment
came near


pull you from the fire
drunk and you are blinded
and you are blind

a visionary wrapped in
gauze and feathers

a patient dog, like magritte,
and the revolution is
in your mind

the boat is sinking, but
we are surrounded by desert

we are buried beneath the
golden haze of sunset

the future screams down
toward us without mercy

the sky, blatantly

With your unused coupons,
with your losing lottery tickets,
not raped but beaten,
on the floor and bleeding,
a baby crying in another room,
a man with a question,
a cop,
asks how long ago it happened,
asks why no one here stepped forward
to save Christ,
and the room is a cell,
one of the walls is made of bars,
and you’re naked,
tied to a cot,
and the stranger with the gun wants an
answer that you don’t have.

Your arms have been broken.

Your tires have been slashed.

Man at the door says he loves you
just before he kicks it down.

season of invisible explosions

not a man but a house on fire in a
waterless land, and it’s a
foregone conclusion growing old this way,
growing useless with your
raspy voice and your shaking,
bleeding hands

it’s one thing to be loved and
another altogether to be wanted

your job is a prison

your family is hungry

seven days now with the
edges of your heart scraped raw
against the idea of suicide

cold sunlight, wind blowing through
open wounds, through the spaces
between burning factories, between
trembling wires

thought you could build a house
out of your father’s failures,
out of anger,
and now you have a roof that leaks

no walls

no windows

a punchline without a joke and a
view of the cemetery, but
this isn’t your town and these
aren’t your ghosts

the phone never rings

makes nothing but a beautiful
sort of silence that you
can really wrap your mind around

sunwashed and wasted

in the corner office
looking out over the desert

in the blood of upstate
where men with no faces talk
about simpler times

you slaughter the buffalo
and the indians will die

you spread disease
with a generous hand

culture is a cancer of course
and what it feeds on
is other cultures

the children run away but
where else is there for them
to go?

forget place

focus on the
shock of realization

the horse with its head
thrown back and throat cut
wide open

the soldier with his eyes
burned into blindness
with his hands
mutilated beyond repair

will you laugh when you
tell him that the war
has been won?

About the Author:

John Sweet

John Sweet, b 1968, still numbered among the living.  A believer in writing as catharsis.  Avoids zealots and social media whenever possible.  His latest collections include APPROXIMATE WILDERNESS (2016 Flutter Press) and BASTARD FAITH (2017 Scars Publications).  All pertinent facts about his life are buried somewhere in his writing.