"the feeling," "the fine art of kneeling," and "[can you tell me where it went wrong?]"

the feeling

you and i in love in this
fragile light of november and
the sky as thin as
blue faded to white and the
pale shadows of
trees over sleeping bones
the soft shadows of crosses
over sleeping babies
and that none of these words i
carve into your skin
are truths
that none of these lies you've
told me can
ever truly be called scars
we will live along the edges
of one another
and we will poison the children
we will teach them the
despair of being human
the need to prove that
anything can be broken
that we are all as
beautiful as
someone else’s god



the fine art of kneeling

and you’re tired of crying,
but what are you going to do about it?
end of winter and
the sunlight feels good, but the
season of rain is always approaching
the age of pandemics,
of secret wars and televised genocides
and, once the future arrives, it
never really goes away again
once the tyrants have the barrel of the gun
placed firmly against the back of your neck,
all they can ever think about is pulling the trigger
                                          all they can really taste
                                                        is your blood,
                                                                but listen
we are all believers in the fine art of
finding joy in someone else’s pain
we are all waiting for the next enemy,
the next lover,
the next good high,
and then it comes and then it’s gone
the first plane hits the north tower
paddock pulls the trigger
dead man in a dead man’s dream, and there is
always the possibility of waking up
lost and alone
there is always the possibility of
not waking up at all



[can you tell me where it went wrong?]

and it’s always the end of the war, and
it’s always the beginning, and she
says she’s tired of my country right or wrong
says she’s tired of having to
choose between fuck and love
wants it all
wants to shake off morrison’s ghost,
cobain’s, rimbaud’s, her father’s, and not every song
on the radio has to mean something,
not every day that passes has to
feel like one that matters
and we drift as shaky as nervous fire down
the streets of this nowhere town
we wait for a better god or a stronger drug,
because one will fuck you up
just as good as the other, and it
feels good either way, doesn’t it?
and she says it feels like the rest of her life
will always look better from a distance
says she’s forgotten what i was like
when i was young,
when i was fun,
and what i feel like now on any given day is
the deep end of a shallow grave
what i dream of is
a stranger in the other room,
faceless but not voiceless, throat filled
with mortal laughter, teeth
stained with blood,
and when i wake up there’s work
unpaid bills and the
threat of rain
all of the reasons a man might
need for turning away



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 Monday, July 27, 2020 - 22:03