Poetry from John Sweet

and we all know whose fault it was


ask her if she fools around, if you
can get her number, and
she laughs, and you ask if she has any x,
if she has a friend who puts out and
get it where you can, right? and it sure as shit
wasn’t creeley who told me that,
wasn’t cirino or eliot, cuz all the fucking 
poets ever did was lie

all that asshole tony ever did was 
keep the acid for himself, and it was your father
who taught you how to pull the trigger,
sure,
but he would never let you
take the blindfold off

would never tell you who you’d hit

and he had that guitar autographed
by pettibon, had that girlfriend your mother
never found out about, and did you
cry when he died?

did you go through his pockets 
of his sunday jeans
looking for cash or a credit card?

and i remember you kept telling me he
owed you something, but you were
always a pussy, always thought you were
missing out

always thought the future was
just around the corner

said you wanted to be ready for the
moment that would change everything,
but the moment had already 
come and gone



no religion

my whole life spent waiting for
everything to go wrong, and i end in this
house, on this day, setting fire to the
past while the roof collapses

i end up too old to die young,
and with mixed emotions about it

i end up terrified of the fact
that i might not live forever

that i might end up nothing more
than the person i’ve become





defacer’s blues

and all the pretty girls dead of
accidental overdoses, and all the
parties you were supposed to
meet them at

the ones where you show up alone
already drunk and stoned,
where you fade into the darkest corner,
and it’s a gift, always being the
ugliest person in the room

it’s a thankless job traveling everywhere
with a shovel and a holy book, 
with a can of gasoline and a book of matches,
but none of these corpses are
going to take care of themselves

none of your freedoms are going to
last forever, and it always feels strange
pretending to give a shit
about the state of the world because,
seriously,
what the fuck are you possibly
going to do to stop war,
to put an end to starvation
or genocide?

who are you going to kill to
assure the rest of us a
lifetime of peace?

seems like you should’ve
thought of something
by now



in the garden of dying stars

or junkie truth,
which is not the truth

a victim’s idea of power

grey sun in a grey sky

and this old man sleeping in his
hospital bed looks like me,
                              like my father,
like the spaces that grow between us,
and hope matters,
            of course,
but let’s not fuck around here

the false king is a dead man

the poet without a gun
really has nothing to offer

and i remember telling you this on
the day before your lover’s suicide,
and i remember all of the reasons
you gave for hating me

i remember silence

young boy crying in the middle of
main street, and
then the scream of brakes

only a small loss,
                  right?

gotta look at the bigger picture

gotta build better bombs

the poor can take care of themselves,
and tough shit if they can’t

no one starves in
a nation of corpses



no one needs god 
when a holy man can 
fuck them just as good

understand this, and you might
just turn out okay




[we danced to save them all]


this boy with the knife in his throat thinks he
has something to say,
but he is beyond words

he is a prince and a king and a corpse,
and we are all trying to
forget his name here in the kingdom of nil

we are tell his sister
we love her

we are telling her she belongs in movies,
but she won’t take her clothes off for us

she won’t get in the back seat

and the blood is on our hands,
is in our smiles and our dreams, and
none of the bibles we’re given ever
have anything intelligent to say

none of the children
playing out in the streets
have parents

none of them have homes

and the soldiers laugh as they hand out candy,
and they laugh as they open fire because
no one can ever get revenge if
no one is left alive

no one sings as sweetly
as the hangman’s latest lover

no one’s life ever ends up
being worth very much at all


John Sweet sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate NY. He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, and in compassionate nihilism which, as luck would have it, has all the best bands. His published collections include NO ONE STARVES IN A NATION OF CORPSES (2020 Analog Submission Press) and THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY THIS IS GOING TO END (Cyberwit, 2023).

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