"poem for a stranger," "poem for when the truth is finally enough," and "blues for the living and the dead"

poem for a stranger

and you can believe in god or
you can not believe
and in the end you die

and do you want an apology?

do you want to be remembered
as a great poet?

as a good father?

or maybe you just want

an addict like everyone else
and probably lost
and almost always afraid
and listen

i have spent the last twenty years
running away from my

have spent the last five
worrying about
who my sons will become

worrying that this house has
too many mirrors

too many windows

too much glass waiting to be broken
and i am remembering
the woman who loved pain
and all of the ways that she knew
how to bleed

all of the forms of abuse
that she swore were love
and i am thinking that i should
find her and beg forgiveness

i am thinking that i should be
a better man than i was
but i'm not

look at the bones i've​
built my life on
without hesitation

look at the lies i've told to
the people who trusted me

understand that
all i've ever been sorry for
is myself



poem for when the truth is finally enough

everybody laughs at
the news of your pain and
why not?

the age of wounded animals has arrived,
the age of children locked in
cages for entertainment
and listen

i am not a prophet but
i have foreseen the death of your god

i am not a starving artist
but i will eat his heart

i will watch your enemies
get drunk on the taste of his blood

what history has taught me
is that victory means nothing
unless some sorry asshole
can be made to suffer



blues for the living and the dead

white sun in
a heavy yellow sky
or the names of people i
used to call friends

the empty rooms left behind
by stolen children

you tell me that
these spaces are sacred
and i agree

you ask me if i loved
the burning girl
and i don't answer

things grow too complicated
in the wide open blur
of august

your sister learns how
to bleed again

and none of the wars have\
but the innocent are
still massacred

the false king still says
victory will be ours

he understands
the need to devour



John Sweet

John Sweet sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate New York. He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, and in poetry as a reason for getting up in the morning.  He has been publishing in the small press for 30 years.  His most recent collection is There's Only One Way This Is Going to End (Cyberwit, 2023).


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, December 9, 2018 - 22:50