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poems by John Sweet


poem below freezing

afternoon in the
house of dead mouths and
everyone sleeps

there have been
rumors of war for as long
as i can remember

there has been sunlight
and the lack of sunlight and
any number of people willing to
confess to me their small
ugly sins

it reaches this point

the blind
and the crippled
and all of the believers
raped by priests

all of the teenage mothers
by their lovers

the age of victims
which tastes like kerosene
and broken glass and
all of the ones forced to

a girl no one knows
on her hands and knees in
a windowless room

a body found at
the edge of a desert

the stories it has
to tell



the poet refusing to be anything more

it takes no effort
he says from 3000 miles away

it's too easy

and what he wants of course
is blood
which no one ever gets tired of

what he wants is
something more than words on paper
but i have bills to pay

i have a wife and two young sons
and fourteen inches of snow in the driveway
that needs to be shoveled


i was glad when
the killer was put to death

i understand the ideas behind
but have no faith in man or god

i have nothing to offer
the descendents of slaves and nowhere
to put the bones of indians

remember that
the past is a weight

that the future is a
bottomless pool of black water

understand that
both can be changed but
never without sacrifice


"have been writing for 20+ years now, appearing in the small press for 15. live in rural upstate new york w/ one wife, two sons, three cats in a heavily mortgaged, slowly collapsing house.

recent work has appeared in ShoeString Poetry, Verse Libre, Arsenic Lobster and Small Spiral Notebook, and my first full-length collection, Human Cathedrals, was just published by Ravenna Press."