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John Sweet

 

i will not

 

 

i will not

view the world with

nostalgia

 

not with the scars

of my teenage years still

visible on my face

fourteen years later and

not with the unborn children

from my twenties who

cannot call me

father

 

i remember

that i saved no one

 

remember too many

two a.m. phone calls from

women in love with

their own pain

 

in love with

someone else's anger

and i was young enough

to believe that

any of us could change

 

i was drunk and

i was suffocating

beneath the weight of

everything i didn't

know and now

all that's changed is

that i'm sober

 

all i've learned is to

fear

growing old

 

 

 

poem for my son's tiny hands

 

 

there is a woman

beyond this stained

sheet of paper who has

condemned me to hang from

the bones of her god

 

who has never written a poem

for my son's tiny hands

but i will forgive

her this

 

she is deaf after

forty years of listening to

nothing but the ocean

 

is blind after too many

empty hours spent staring

at the light

 

she tells me the names of

her own children and each one

is gravel caught

in her throat

 

each one is a flower

lost in

a field of ashes

 

what i learn from this

is that something

at some point

has burned

 

 

 

poem for the end of the world

 

 

or maybe what i'm

afraid of becoming is

pollock in his last months

 

a man with no art

 

with endless rivers of

self-pity and rage

 

i have sat quietly in the

fragile lucidity of

certain hungover mornings

waiting without hope for the

words to flow

 

i have thrown rocks

through windows

 

and what if jesus christ was

only a person who lived and died

with the same lack of purpose

as the rest of us?

 

what if blasphemy is

no longer

a word with any meaning?

 

i know i'm not the first

to ask this question

 

the things we think matter

will only end up

footnotes or curios

 

the canvas covered in

brutal layers of color is

no more profound than the

one left blank

 

it doesn't have to be

a lie

but probably is

 

 

 

sister

 

 

   1.

 

your sister

alone in her kitchen

refuses to bleed

 

she is a distance

an empty space that

can't be filled

 

no

you tell me

 

this is too cold

 

 

   2.

 

your sister

alone in her bedroom

wraps her heart

in thorns

 

leaves

two small spaces

for her children to

slip through

and nothing more

 

you read these words

over my shoulder

then walk away

 

you are learning

the bottomless weight

of silence

 

 

 

   3.

 

your sister

alone in your mind

is alone

 

there is an enemy

yes

but i am not him

 

you are

already planning

for the day when

this isn't the

case

 

 

 

the age of minotaurs

 

 

forget poetry

 

forget the sickly

black weight

of priests

 

this was

someone's daughter

here

 

a tired argument

yes

but the age of minotaurs

is over

 

tired arguments are

all we have left

 

understand

 

there is beauty

and there is beauty

willfully destroyed

and the road between

the two is only

twenty-seven years

long

 

and she is naked

and the camera is rolling

and then she is naked

and then she is

history

 

the gun sliding neatly

into her mouth

the brain exploding

everywhere

and what can you say

about this?

 

how do you

make it better?

 

 

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