Poetry from John Sweet

self-portrait in tar

and words aren’t actions,
and prayer is as
meaningless as regret

the temperature is a nervous
stutter between rain and snow

the town is a vast expanse of
empty parking lots, of
grey shot through with crushed
plastic and dead leaves

i have wasted my life

i am afraid of growing old and 
dying in front of my children

i am afraid of
growing old and dying

in the end we are only
subtracted from nothing

the drowning years

it’s always the same stupid shit,
always these self-inflicted wounds

his 15 year-old girlfriend pregnant, the
asshole from the barfight in a 
coma and not expected to live but
brenda laughs, says why not

dead-end job at the minimart and her
boyfriend doing six months in county, and he
says his stepfather has a place down
in north carolina

tells her he’s had a crush on her
since middle school, and she
asks if it’s gonna be a boy or a girl

and he says he doesn’t want to know

doesn’t really give a shit
one way or the other,
and she nods

tells him she needs to
leave a note for her sister

needs to feed the dog

small, ordinary acts to help her
feel like she’s
moving into the future

the forest of the profane

early autumn frost in the
shadows of sunlit buildings, all
blue sky and junkie dreams

man walking past you says he’s
got god in his veins

says there are other
versions of hell that have nothing to
do with faith, and his smile
is filled with blood

this town is where i live
but it’s not my home

this idea of judas as scapegoat
needs to be reconsidered

despair is a sickness
not a weapon
but it will always be used by
tyrants to beat you down

will you suffer the first blow or
will you burn down the castle?

will you set the gospel aside
and hear the truth instead?

all choices come to an end when
the dog you fail to praise
decides to take your tongue
                           as his own

skeleton afternoon

this is the man with no eyes who
tells me he pities my blindness

this is the party to celebrate
the death of the deathless kingdom

i fuck his wife in the back seat of
someone else’s car or
he seduces my daughter before
they both disappear

a stalemate

a gun for every starving child
so they can all grow up safe

even here in this cramped and
sullen space between 
disposable gods
we are all someone’s enemy

notes on ideology

good times in the suicide
factory down on your hands and knees

swallow the cock or swallow
the barrel, and
how many choices do you really need?

how many lives are you planning on
screwing up other than your own?

goddamn kids gotta grow up
sooner or later, i guess

can’t be sucking at their
mother’s tit forever

they need to know they’re useless

need to know how much blood is
required to solve each problem, and
maybe you have to smack them around
a little to drive your point home

maybe a house gets burned to the ground,
maybe a car gets stolen or some
fifteen year-old girl from the
trailer park out at the edge of town
gets knocked up, but this shit
happens every day

you fuck or you get fucked

you walk or you crawl

a lifetime of  meaningless rules and
blown chances, and then
you die

and the story ends the
body is found,
but how do we get there?

same goddamn way
every time

14 yr old girl sits on her bed,
curtains pulled,
father’s gun,
instructions on her laptop screen

knowledge is power,

puts the muzzle to her head and
pulls the trigger, and so
turn the music up a
little louder

send flowers

bring shovels

a lot of bodies left to be
buried before this
part of the story ends


tired of being so fucking
old, and tired of all
the goddamn years i wasted

tired of being on
the wrong coast

or not being able
to forget your face

of everything i write
like a suicide note

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