by John Sweet 

the captain, the sinking ship

and we will do something or
better yet
we will do nothing
and the lawns will all be green

the doors will be kicked in
and the children dragged
out into the streets

the votes recounted

zero for you and zero for
them and then none for me

nothing, and then nothing

In pale grey rooms, asking
God for forgiveness,
running fingers through a stranger’s hair,
and then silence.

Thursday afternoon in the
house of the dying man.

Undressing his wife while he sleeps,
dust on my fingertips,
on her lips.

Words stained like the
sharpened teeth of priests.

Crows at every window.

An ending, yes,
but the song continues to play.

The sunlight turns to rain.

Anything less than absolute trust
must be fear.


in love with you on
charlotte street, in the
shadows of ruined empires, and
still young enough to think
that this matters

kissing you naked in the
blind heat of august afternoons
and then tasting your sweat

drinking it like the
one true religion

air around us thick with
sunlight & dust and the
scent of spanish flowers

a blind saint, weeping

october leaves down juniper street and
the moment sunlit and brilliant, the shadows of
trees stretched out beyond memory, sound of
passing cars on the freeway across the river, train on
the other side of town and
even here
beneath the endless cerulean sky
it’s fear that keeps me breathing

i have stayed in one place too long

i have accumulated too many
meaningless objects

letters from strangers, from
forgotten lovers, books of meaningless poems
smeared across ripped and torn pages and
what the hell?

my oldest son already halfway out the door,
his younger brother just waiting his turn

i will drive them away
like my own father did me

i will become everything and
everyone i hate

this is how winter begins

through rain, through walls of poisoned sunlight

beneath skies as soft as dust,
you and I without shadows in
a place where everything is shadow

the village in ruins but i
can’t remember or i was never told

a simple war, i think,
on the other side of the world

man who owns the country
killing those with nothing because he can

any number of gods growing
fat on the bloated corpses
of women, of children, and they
are crows and they are jackals
just like all holy entities

talons and beaks to
tear at the heart, and the priests who
laugh at the idea of salvation

who barricade the refugees in
churches then bulldoze them to the ground but
you an i in this other place and
not quite winter and
not quite spring

a fragile truce against
the blurred horizon

a wounded animal at the forest’s edge

can’t save everyone from a
life time of pain or maybe it’s
just easier to say this than to try

maybe the enemy has been
hiding in plain sight
all along

About the Author:

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 A FLAG ON FIRE IS A SONG OF HOPE (2019 Scars Publications).