Three Poems by John Sweet


prologue to the book of crows
days sunlit and frozen like
christ riding shotgun, bleeding all over
everything, seats ruined, drink spilled and
what exactly do you think was accomplished
by locking pound in a cage?

which one of you will rape the
child and which of you will find
humor in it?

it’s a crucial distinction

it’s the day before the flood

i wake up thinking a corner has been
turned, thinking things are going to start
getting better, and when the phone rings it’s a
stranger handing me the news of my
father’s death

when i answer the door it’s a woman
holding my son’s broken body

sunlight, though, spilling through his
pain and casting bitter shadows and the
distance between the price and the cost is
only what we let it become

the dog left locked inside a burning house
is a metaphor for whatever life
we choose to live

drive north for one hour
then turn left

notice the absence of god

name every shade of grey you can see and
then the ones you can feel inside you and
then after the rape the murder
the rope and the gasoline and all of the
vast empty spaces between the
beginning and the end

between the broken window and
the dying stars and you
want to breathe but it’s no longer an option
and i am standing there with
cracked and bleeding hands watching
corpses fall from the sky

am standing there with frost filming
my skin and filling my mouth
and it’s a taste i recognize

it’s the memory of swallowing
handfuls of blood on
the morning of your wedding

it’s like standing by my father’s side
while the machines are turned off

there’s still so much that needs to
be said but no one left to
pretend it matters
In the corner where the ceiling leaks,
on a Saturday morning, with the
sound of machinery running on human blood.

The bride raped on Main Street
beneath a luminous grey sky.

Faces nailed to the pavement,
eyes to heaven & gouged out by the
stained beaks of crows. Sound of piano music
from between the empty buildings.

Abandoned parking lots in
every direction.




middle-aged man rewrites the future, but can’t decide on an ending
first heat of the season w/out warning,
w/out mercy, 2nd floor of this
house filled w/ the weight of dust & decay

consider motion carefully

shadows of hawks

of clouds forming above the hills

tell her this, then, say don’t be
the mother who lets her children drown

say this and then breathe in
the haze of gasoline and rotting wood

consider fire

consider escape

the pain it would cause others
vs. the possibility of your own survival

One Response to “Three Poems by John Sweet”

  1. priscampbell Says:

    John Sweet, your poems have enthralled me ever since you took the road less traveled and sang your poems into the rising sun. How terrible to comment in chichés but I think you know what I mean. I love these.

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