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‌and we will make such beautiful ghosts

spark child wakes up screaming from a nightmare of the father, father with his head wreathed in flames, with his blind eyes and great screaming mouth, shouts WAKE UP! shouts WAKE UP! shakes the child until all that’s left are a thousand small pieces and all of them chipped and all of them mismatched and none of them ever fitting together exactly the same way again

soul this is not gift this is just sunlight and this is not warmth and we are not lovers we are neither bridges nor rivers but the possibility of drowning remains i remember your shadow forty feet long down october streets i remember splitting open on impact the pain of sudden realization spilling everywhere

as slow as prayer little birds singing after the rain, in the cold, in the grey, and i would have you set the poem to music i would consider the patron saint of pregnant women would consider this woman with the baby torn from her womb left to die on a bathroom floor beneath the watchful eye of god angels dancing always in the corners of your vision

Srebrenica It was weeping gods shitting knives into the open mouths of their lovers. It was something softer. Chagall with a machine gun while the ghettos burned. Rothko's wrists laid open and the starlings that poured out. The sunlight that tasted like ashes, and then the floods. This woman's thirteen year old son playing down by the river, and then vanished, and when she wept it was for herself. When the enemy arrived, we helped them separate the sons from their mothers. Helped them separate the husbands from their wives. 8000 men and boys altogether, and we watched them being driven off in buses. We read about their murders in the paper. Seemed like there should have been someone we could blame.

opened her arms, said come home And here along the river wall where the teenage dogs spray paint FUCK in bright grey letters, where the truth is nothing more than what it pretends to be, is the same here as anywhere else, and the stench rising from the water, the abandoned shopping carts, rusting bones of small animals, plastic bags caught in the underbrush, and then what? The city can only spread like a cancer or die like a victim. The future is only a single crumbling wall holding up a collapsing roof. I can't remember a time in this place when I wasn't afraid.

i am total love, i am total hate speaking without anger to the god of twisted metal saying no child deserves this and never getting an answer speaking without anger when anger is all that will save you and always knowing that violence is inevitable knowing that your job has no meaning that your house is falling down while you sleep and the ground leaking poison into the baby's dreams a thirteen year-old girl at the other end of the street filled with cancer a fourteen year old girl across town and the factories were promises on fire and when the smoke cleared we held nothing but lies the old women kept their statues of the virgin mary in their front yards and the neighborhood dogs shit on them and listen nothing is what you have and nothing is who you are and every day is defined by either relentless heat or dirty rain

the war can never be won if all we fight are men more than willing to die i will sleep better at night having taught my sons to be afraid

feathers :: bones just want to clip yr lover’s wings then all you want is blood passion maybe and then revenge distance and then space room enough to fly if it was something any of us could do

chrome was lying there hoping the sky would fill with blood was bathed in hard blue light and simple grace blinded by the holiness of architecture 23, maybe, and unemployed drunk at 2 in the afternoon, and i thought i was in love, which helped i thought the approaching century would rise up like some beautiful goddess and obliterate the past didn't even realize my father had died until after i'd hung up the phone

cora wolves, always, and always the smell of blood always the smell of gasoline the shadows of clouds rolling over our naked bodies taste of salt when i kiss your breasts

wilderness wakes up cold at the edge of the forest, frost in his hair & between his yellow teeth and his tongue coated with his father’s ashes sun just above the trees and diminished by fog money waiting to be made

helix of compassion spray paint your small hatred on dirty walls substitute anger for belief blood is the gift with or without war but no one really cares about pain if it isn’t their own no one really cares about poverty if they have money in the bank it’s simple the word will always be less than the thing it represents the thing itself will always be more useful if it can be used as a weapon what you need to do is consider poetry a sign of weakness consider poets the enemies of action kill them like you would any other coward

the sickness baby with her amputated hands, with her tongue cut out, and this is the past and this is the future, and this is the war no one wants to admit these are all the happy songs about fucking that keep getting played on the radio so easy just to sing along and smile

the neverending sky and one of us is always the whore, and i never grow tired of crawling have never gotten used to being afraid and there is sunlight but with ice at the edges a landscape of barren fields, of empty houses all choices come down to living or dying in the end and, if you have to atop and think about it, you’ve already lost if your lover’s hands are broken then no shelter can be built no warmth can be given or received and it’s easy enough to get used to this, but why would you ever want to?

the specifics tired finally of love poems and of lust poems tired of distance and of atmosphere and sick of the rain of the goddamn cold and the joke here is the murdered child and the punchline is that his brother is the killer, and so why aren’t you laughing? why do you keep confusing prayer with action? get off your fucking knees, asshole act like the future is yours to take

this desert palace and all gods only in black & white, and the two of us with the luxury of fading away the walls there thick with blood, the air heavy with ghosts rain against the windows 35 degrees shades of grey laid on top of shades of grey and it’s not love, it’s fucking, and the bruises are as meaningless as you’d expect said listen to this and unbuttoned her shirt said look and then pushed her hand in through her pale flesh pulled out someone else’s child a miracle, but i refused to applaud

tinderbox sonnet The girl, then, and the man fucking her. The man filming them. The parents, the brothers, the sisters and orphans and so on and so on, and there is no pint to be made, only money. There are no victims. There are no survivors. Tell your children this when the house begins to burn.

small offering for the queen of open wounds and picasso was yr lover that year, or maybe his ghost, and the sun was the sun from your grandparents’ childhood the labyrinth was the same as you remembered the priests were men with the heads of carrion birds said they only wanted to hold you but kept tearing at yr flesh kept trying to gouge out yr eyes promised that true clarity would only come once you gave up believing you could see

the empire, returned to sand nine months pregnant and found in the dirt, in the weeds, found murdered like you knew she would be, and the killer is her boyfriend, like you knew it would be, and we are never good enough at pretending, none of us, and the sunlight at six thirty in the morning is soft and unfocused but already filled with the threat of violence already heavy with the promise of crucifixion, and i am kissing my sons goodbye at their mother's front door, am telling them that i'll see them tomorrow afternoon, and in the back of my mind there is always a list of people i hate, of people i would like to see dead, and by three in the afternoon the storm is almost here by four, it's already gone the heat come back like a lover who never gets tired of beating you

mudville and nothing held dear and then nothing again shitloads of it wherever you look and all of these fuckers starving footprints on the moon in some grand gesture of futility and what you’re finally left with are these pointless goddamn choices this FOR OR AGAINST this PRO OR CON this WAR NOW OR WAR LATER and only men with money ever talk about victory only gods with claws and fangs are worth their time

the desperate years, over and over fading away then which was never what i intended a lifetime of empty spaces of attempted kindness and deliberate spite a lifetime of mirrors but none of them ever spoke none of them ever asked is this what you wanted? imagine the humor of it, the bitter laughter aimed at surrealists who die only of old age who grow complacent imagine babies dead of cancer or born too deformed to live for more than a week or don’t imagine it see them for yourself breathe them in let them break over you like waves

sing your bleakest song once the girl turns 15, once she’s raped for the first time, once she kills herself against a backdrop of laughter we have nothing left to fear but each other are you willing to call this freedom?

miro, point blank even in silence the sounds we make and even in christ the poisoned blood of humanity no why no answers need is at the center of everything the city gives way to desert then the desert spreads west to the ocean this is you inside yourself and this is me three thousand miles away and which of us is further away from where we want to be? listen don’t use humor as a shield, use it as a fist, a club, a bloodstreaked hammer fear, of course, will always be a blanket will always be a shroud paramedics find him there on the kitchen floor, not dead yet but edging closer

skies were grey there was snow this much i remember, but i lose track of the chain of events seemed to go on for a week, but my sister laughs when i tell her this, says two days and we both stop to think about this darkness on either end of the conversation our voices, when we remember them, like blind angels floating above sleeping towns our voices, when we use them, resigned the idea has no meaning without the thing itself the thing itself is never quite what we’d hoped it would be i hold it close to my heart but don’t feel anything at all

unnamed angel these people who love you and you a stranger among them a war in a ruined city a god without the possibility of ever becoming anything more you with your sense of loss with your desire for escape an open window at midnight and the distant sound of freeway traffic father’s ghost in the bedroom doorway head wreathed in flames & carrion stench not a dream he tells you but in someone else’s voice and then it’s your youngest son crying out in his sleep, screaming in terror, but you can’t find his room you can’t see the shore daybreak, both hands cut off at the wrist and so how do you stay afloat? what do you drink in this ocean of dust? too many questions with no obvious answers

too many effortless ways in which beauty can be destroyed this is the basis for all of history

poems john sweet Š2010 wall of noise press

And we will make such beautiful ghosts  

poetry by john sweet