Three Poems by John Sweet

in the other house, after cobain’s suicide

and it’s all good fun
burning witches
but baby says she needs something more

says war will always kill art in
the end, and then she laughs

tells me she still remembers the
day she fell out of love with me and
then she gets undressed

then she opens the
door and leaves


you can’t waste your whole
life being a dead man

this much was obvious and so
it was where we started

and no more goddamn drugs
i said
but all this got me was a blank stare

stalemate by noon and then
defeat just before dinner but you
can’t waste your whole life being a coward

this much was the truth if nothing else
and i told her we had to leave the city

told her the desert was our best bet

solved the murder by page fifteen then
there was nothing left but to wait for rain

a lot of open wounds
hoping to add up to a history

bird with a broken neck dead on the
back porch and it gets harder to tell the
age of desire from the age of greed
but the need for victims is
always a constant

says to me you
can’t waste your whole life
worrying about this shit and she
might be right

killing gods is as futile as killing ants

everything beyond the boundaries
of personal misery is an unknown

there is no shame in becoming
the blessing
you never knew you wanted

the untitled afterthought

and the sunlight breaks your heart in
these first warm days of june
and then the shadows of clouds across
late august hills

the need to escape
or at least the need to
pretend that escape is possible

and bleeding host

man you’ve known your entire
life falls dead to the
kitchen floor without warning

makes it easier to trust
what he says
but not by much

we are still a nation of
liars and whores

this is still the age of blind hatred

the idea that anyone murdered
that anyone raped
must have deserved it

a history of mindless violence
eventually becomes its
own justification


John Sweet, b 1968, still numbered among the living. A believer in writing as catharsis. Opposed to all organized religion and political parties. His latest collections include APPROXIMATE WILDERNESS (2016 Flutter Press) and the limited edition chapbooks HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions) and A BASTARD CHILD IN THE KINGDOM OF NIL (2018 Analog Submission Press). All pertinent facts about his life are buried somewhere in his writing.

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