Go back

                                                                                                John Sweet


wreckage:  a later interpretation

or she's eighteen and
her wrists are healing

the hills rise up on
every side of this town and
i get a letter from a man who tells me
that the indians have their casinos

that all debts have been repaid

and i drive slowly into the city
with a handful of poems
and a belief in empty spaces

i offer columbine as one choice
and cobain as the other and
no one speaks

no one stops me when i
get up to leave
and when she's twenty one
she no longer dreams about the
god of starving dogs

when she's twenty three
she could be anyone

it happens as simply as war

a man approaches you with a gun
and you live or you die

you learn to build houses
from the bones of priests

you're buried in the
frozen soil like a dog

like so much garbage

and the days move on effortlessly



turning away from the bleeding horse

in the end
we go nowhere

have i told you this before?

we hang onto the gift of speech
but we say nothing

we see nothing

the mother is beaten to death
and then her nine year old son is raped

and he is raped and then he is
raped again
and then he is raped again

he is beaten and he is raped
and he is nine years old and then
he is murdered
and this is a true story and
it is always happening

it has always happened

the wars no longer need names
and the air is sticky with
crystal meth

the cop is shot in the face
as he approaches the front door

has a wife and a child and
his body burns as easily
as anyone else's

his god has no arms

no legs and he is blind
like we are blind

he is hopeless like
we are without hope

it's what i've been
telling you all along




tuesday evening, route 26 south, the weight of dust

all of these days spent
through the smell of burning

a house or
a child or the beginning of
a hopeless century

is what i mean

kennedy and the fragility
of the human skull

the simple beauty of the calla lily

and what happens is that
i am always somewhere between
lost and found

there are always hills and
the shadows they cast

sunlight and the sounds
of children in the seconds
before they disappear

the last screams of a
young girl in california

the relentless weight
of stories without endings

we tell them over and over
until every word begins
to sound like a confession




max ernst, all is forgiven

cold in the shadows down these side streets
and the flicker of sunlight through
bare trees

the names of people whose names
i will never know

the churches and the waves of desperation
that radiate from them

i've never asked for salvation

never wanted forgiveness

the world is full of children dying slowly
behind locked doors

is full of priests with their precious words
that taste like dust

and when i tell you that the storm has passed
it doesn't mean that any of us should
come out of hiding

when i tell you i love you
it's almost never out loud

what it feels like is safety




here finally in the
pure white light of late september
i am the bleeding horse

i am america in decay

the cities at the exact moment they
fall in on themselves
and the children as they're
torn open like presents and
all of us breathing in the sweet gasoline air

all of us crucifying or crucified

the sounds we make
and the silences that define them
and listen

the constant hum of electricity

the blood-red drone of the television

this new century that feels
no different than
the one that came before it

this idea that
we are running out of days

that the war cannot be won

and why would you ever vote for someone
who wanted to be elected?

why would you give a man a trial
after he'd murdered his
own daughter?

and when the last sioux is buried
the medals are handed out

when the long march
finally comes to an end
the fences are built

freedom needs to have limits

needs to have a price

this is what i've learned from the speeches
and what i learned from the
whores who made them is that
anyone can be bought

and the land in this town has been poisoned
and the water
and i've been told that no one
will be held responsible

i've been told
that deals were made and gifts given and
what we call sixteen year-old girls
dying of cancer in this
part of the world are unfortunate

what i teach my children is that
violence is never a solution

what i hope for
is their forgiveness




                                                                                                © John Sweet

triple rule

Loch Raven Review Winter 2005 — Vol. I, No. 2
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