with tired eyes

even here in the clean cold light of april
in the solemn emptiness between berkshire & speedsville
between somewhere & somewhere else
between nowhere & nowhere
the shit of civilization pokes up through the rocks and dirt

cigarette butts bottle caps burger wrapper

crisp blue sky

no sound of traffic or of industry but
two empty beer cans and a broken bottle off the side of
a rutted dirt road

taste of rust when i turn to kiss you



why every poem should be the last one

july and this
abundance of weeds, these
vines growing without pause or
regret, smothering and strangling beneath
the flat silver glare of the sky, and
were we drunk?

are we stoned?

takes a handful of pills just to
make me feel normal in the morning

took fifteen years to peel away all the
dead flesh and then all i was
was fifteen years older

sounds like a joke
but the punchline needs work

sounds like a song written from
a great distance and with
broken hands and she says listen

she says
just let him die

july and the
heat of the railroad tracks

the buzz of empty fields

insects and generators and children
sleeping off sicknesses, fans in
curtained rooms and, outside, the broken
toys all faded plastic and splintered
wood, all rusted metal and here,
year of the bleeding horse,
fever dream of my father’s last hours,
i want you to know that i
forgive no one

i want you to know that i
have made peace with myself

i cast this shadow down these cracked
and buckled sidewalks, over patches of
warm tar, and i am afraid of
everything that exists beyond my control

i am choked with the fear of
all my failures

can remember the two of us in love beneath
the absolute weight of the summer sun
but can’t seem to make it matter


without a name, without armor

old man in the corner of a sunlit
room and this is the future, yes, and
this is the past and the important
thing is not that i’m afraid but
that i’m tired

the important thing is that no one
should ever admit defeat
without first learning the history of war

no one should live in a shack
without electricity, without running water,
with the stench of corpses glued tight
to every waking minute and when i
tell the old man this
he laughs

when i ask about the end he says
he only remembers the beginning

says he was young
says it was a different room

doesn’t believe me when i
tell him he’s my father

seems pretty goddamned
sure of himself

John Sweet: b. 1968, still kicking and screaming. a believer in sunlight, and in the surrealists. opposed to dogma, zealots and all political schools of thought. latest collections include The Century of Dreaming Monsters (2014 Lummox Press) and A Nation of Assholes W/Guns (2015 Scars Publications).