• John Sweet

Selected Poetry by John Sweet


Photo Source: Pixabay


all lifetimes collapsed into a single moment of doubt



you and i in the coldest room of

a dead man’s house and

in january

this is all there is


five below zero at three in the Afternoon and

who am i to

tell you that words are meaningless?


listen


we cannot be sorry for

every shade of grey


we will never cast shadows with

the lights out and the curtains drawn


and i will kiss the frost from yr flesh and

you will teach me the hidden names of

the tuatha de danann and in this

way we become holy


in the seconds before the

first shot of the massacre is fired

there is talk of a better future


it only lasts as long as it takes for

every child present to be slaughtered




redon, obliquely



afraid all afternoon,

grey shadow on a white page,

flat grey sky over flat grey houses and then

dig deeper,

past suicide and down to buried cities,

hidden churches,

the bones of saints


lie on the couch with a mouthful of

poison and dream of

empty severed hands

in waterlogged back yards


dream of rust

but without falling asleep


this is the trick to being christ


this is the weight of despair


everyone wants to breathe and

everyone wants to be stoned but

the baby is crying


rain turns to snow and

the future falls into ruin


the trees that line the streets here are

all dead and rotting and

the streets themselves go nowhere


escape is an illusion

and so dig deeper


the obvious atrocities


the drowning season


a desert full of empty hands

pushing up through the sand and

what will you give them to carry?


how deep are you willing to dig into

the frozen earth to find pure joy?


hit just one vein of sugared blood

and all the pain

becomes worthwhile




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




[don’t die; it’s over]



red-haired one says something, or the

prettiest one, says

it feels good, right? and

smiles, and i remember this part, the

first part at the kitchen table with

the red-haired one and the prettiest one


the quietest one, who says nothing,

eyes closed, smoking,

smiling, everyone

smiling and the one who says it’s supposed to

feel good,

who says you can trust us, says

friends, says lean back,

just sit still and let it

feel good, and what i learn years later

is the smell of pot


what i remember is that

it’s always summer,

that the prettiest one laughs, says

open your mouth as the red-haired one

leans forward, lips to lips and breathes

into me, fills me up,

and it’s summer and

it’s always summer

and the quietest one

smiles


prettiest one unbuttons, says it’s okay,

says you can touch,

says you can kiss, and

it’s summer because

it’s always summer


it’s daylight, but my sister is asleep, my

parents gone, and the

prettiest one says

like this, says like this, and then

says it’s okay, see?


says you won’t even remember


says it feels good, right,

and i’m thinking


i’m on my back, staring up at

my parents’ bedroom ceiling


i’m opening my mouth to speak, to

breathe, and then i’m filled up again,

the red-haired one, lips to lips, my

eyes watering, my eyes closed, but i

can see the quiet one smile


i hear the red-haired one laugh


and it feels good and it

feels good and it feels good until

i don’t feel anything at all




like sunshine smeared to grey



learn to sing w/

yr lips sewn together


learn to shut the hell up


to bleed w/ yr eyes


these are the new

dark ages, right?


every room, the room of

murdered children,

every punchline an epitaph,

and we were fucking on the

kitchen floor when the

first bombs fell


asked if you were

worried about yr boyfriend,

and you just laughed


just dug yr nails in

a little deeper


told me i talked

too goddamn much and




John Sweet sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate NY. He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, and in the continuous search for an unattainable and constantly evolving absolute truth. His latest poetry collections include A FLAG ON FIRE IS A SONG OF HOPE (2019 Scars Publications) and A DEAD MAN, EITHER WAY (2020 Kung Fu Treachery Press).


If you would like to learn more about John Sweet, you can find his website here and his Instagram here.