Yellow Mama Archives

John Sweet
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Znaidi, Ali

a murder/suicide in southern California

 

by John Sweet

 

 

or that the man you love

is a rapist

 

that the mother walks away

from the burning trailer

 

from the sleeping child

 

every starving dog with

a gun and a justification for

why they shoot it

 

every room in the

house of truths silent and

thick with the smell

of blood

 

and i am

not a good person but

i love my sons

 

i am not a killer but

i believe in

the simplicity of it

 

i have my list of people

who deserve to die

 

it does nothing but grow

 

 

 

just north of town, out past the cemetery

 

 

 

John Sweet

 

 

the sound of cold metal grinding

against cold metal in the frozen air

 

the desert you were born in

 

the gasoline you got drunk on

 

fucking father was blind and crippled

and just because he left you his

shoes doesn’t mean you

have to wear them

 

just because he had a sense of humor

doesn’t mean you have to laugh

 

just because it was too late to

stop the bleeding doesn’t

mean you couldn’t have at least

                             held his hand

 

 

 

like fire

 

by John Sweet

 

 

thought maybe the

blood would begin to

run backwards once the

war was over but

it didn’t

 

thought surrender would

earn us mercy

but no

 

the children were lined up and

shot beneath tattered white flags,

their bodies dumped in the river,

their mothers raped and then

butchered, and do you

remember the year?

 

was it before you were born?

 

after we died?

 

do you remember the priests

and their magic wands,

their answers that answered

nothing at all?

 

found you naked behind the trailer

with your wide open eyes

and quicksilver wrists

and I told you there that the

baby would never have my name

 

told you that the dogs would

say whatever they had to

to get in between your legs

 

let you find out for yourself

that being weak in the

civilized world would

never buy you any mercy

 

 

the silence of betrayal

 

by John Sweet

 

 

these shadows like

the shadows of ghosts

 

this hand the one that caresses you

 

anointed with salt and blessed by

nameless lovers and then the

crosses where they spring up from

the frozen ground

 

the wars

after no believes in them anymore

 

go ahead

 

explain to me how

god takes sides

 

show me the shacks made of

corrugated siding and plywood

 

the bodies buried where the

fields come up hard against the cities

 

there is no difference between

the past and the future

no need to distinguish between the

dead and the hopeless

 

i was there when he jumped

from the bridge

but i was just passing by

 

was on my home from the

post office and the river was on fire

and there was a woman i had

married

 

there were our children

 

two of them and beautiful and

the man on the radio was saying

that dylan had lost it

 

was saying that

cobain had been shot

 

had been found crucified at the

edge of the desert

but when i open the door

you’re gone

 

when i open my mouth

the words all taste like shadows

 

we’re not growing fat out here

we’re dying

 

 

 

pyrrh

 

by John Sweet

 

 

in the temples as they crumbled,

in the year of burning children,

where hands were windows,

where eyes are open,

saw shadows like scars,

felt the warmth of yr mouth,

kissed the salt from yr breasts

 

stood in the doorway

after the rain had passed

 

stood between yr husband

and his lover

 

called it the year of broken wings

   because none of us could leave,

because we could only fly in

                                   circles,

could only repeat our mistakes

                       again and again,

and when you turned to me i

        saw shadows like scars,

kissed the salt from yr lips,

felt the heat of yr lies

 

stood in the doorway after

the house we never shared had

burned to the ground

 

 

 

john sweet, b. 1968, is opposed to all dogma, ideologies, zealots, political parties, boy bands, organized religions and reality tv. everything of any value that he knows, he learned from the surrealists and the post-punks.  recent work is in Montucky Review and Dead Snakes. latest collections include The Century of Dreaming Monsters (2014 Lummox Press) and A Nation of Assholes w/ Guns (2015 Scars Publications).

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