Poetry from John Sweet

the woman i love falling through empty air into the arms of no one



all afternoon these faded attempts at sunlight

these starlings circling bare trees

children crying in frozen side yards where the

dead are as useless as the dying and i am

moving through this maze of abandoned factories,

i am beneath the bridge at the end of town

near the palace of leaning bones and

i am twenty five years too late,

still dreaming of the other elizabeth, the

patron saint of regret, and i have stood in the

center of every lane of the freeway at

midnight at noon at 5:30 in the evening and i

was there when your brother jumped from

the overpass, was walking back from chrissie’s

house and it was october was the end of november

and fucking cold, saw his body briefly against

the bruised green sky, heard the squeal of

unseen tires and then it was twenty five years

later and i can’t even remember his

name anymore, can’t remember the warmth

of your body or the taste of your kiss and

all afternoon these failed attempts at



this ice spreading through the veins


poison in the water, or on the

tip of the tongue


tastes too good to just spit out



and we thought that when the war was over, the blood would all flow

           backwards, and we were wrong



or living like a wounded animal, which

isn’t really the same thing as living,

but there you are in your collapsing hole

with your open wounds and your blood trail


here we are after 25 years of winter


½ a lifetime spent digging at the same

small patch of frozen ground with bare hands


low tide


faulty compass


and what i find out too late is

that anger isn’t enough


is that silence isn’t an alternative to

suicide, but a slower version of it and so

we scream


we make ourselves such easy targets


open the door and all of that pale, blinding

sunlight just blows holes straight through you



because you’re not here



two hawks circling up high in the

bitter sunlight, over the great sorrow of

empty fields, of rusted cars and silent

trailers, children nailed to their own

dead-end futures and, if you were here,

these would be my gifts to share,

these pale grey realities,

these silent accusations,

and i would pull you closer along

the edge of some two-lane road,

would breathe you in as the shadows

of clouds swallowed us then spat

us back out again


i would promise you nothing more

than all of the pain you could

hold in your small perfect hands


would tell you i loved you

if it was what you wanted to hear


stab wound blues



bluegrey taste of blood just

coming up to the top of howard

hill the empty fields the ruined

shells of burned out cars screams

of crows & of children not leaving

not arriving and this is where the

body of someone’s wife was

found and then down the other

side to the trailer you lived in

twenty years ago and i probably

told you i loved you at some

point and i probably thought

that i meant it but the sense of

urgency is gone i can count the

number of people whose pain i

care about on one broken hand

while i steer with the other and

it’s been raining since yesterday

afternoon & shows no signs

of stopping





the frightened child, always



this january sunlight on december snow,

all dim blue sky and frozen clouds,

all washed-out colors like

memory or dream


you are here

despite everything


you are loved but seen only

through dust-streaked windows


distance is the key


i am never close enough to hold or i am

always pushing you away

and we mistake confession for apology


mistake solitude for escape and

the days are all filled with long lists of

gods who would like to see us dead


the air thick with the

memory of gasoline


of cold engines grinding

themselves into dust


such stunted minds,

such crippled dreams


so many hungry saviors

with the heads of crows


only the warmth of burning witches,

but it’s better than no warmth at all

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