memory (2)

thinking last night that
i was twenty two and that
you were still alive
and then waking up to the sound
of rain and the baby crying

sitting in a dark room
measuring the distance from
the bridge to the train tracks below

considering the simplicity of cancer

of someone being dropped
naked and screaming
almost fifty feet
and the way you cried as i got in the car
and drove away

the weight of the phone for
the next two weeks
and then months and then years

the ghost of kay sage
and the memory of gorky

the beauty of the space
between them

and there is a place where
the mountains pull apart and
the road seems to almost
have direction

there are the trailer parks
and the cars rusting on blocks
and the empty buildings
without purpose

the mother who drinks drano
on her kitchen floor
and the one who murders her
oldest daughter

walls filled with fading pictures

always more and
always more of the same

names and faces and
minor acts of violence

the news of a war that can't be won

the president's smile as he
grows fat on the meat of
butchered children and the way
i sat up in bed with a name i
hadn't spoken in fifteen years
falling from my lips

the sounds the house made
around me

all of the ways
in which silence isn't

kirchner, approaching a mirror on the morning of his suicide

all of this shit that feels
like talking

all of these words
that are wasted

indians and slaves
and the bones of runaways
and always the weight of
lennon's pain

always the ashes of
pollock's fear

which is a lie
and lies
which are the maps that
guide us home

and what if you know this man
who drags his wife naked
into some november field and murders her?
what if all you have to teach your children
is sorrow and anger?

and what i think i'm
talking about here is sunlight
without heat

roads that end at burned-out gas stations
or in the parking lots of
abandoned factories

and where i am is in a tired
at the edge of a barren field

in the room where
your mother's boyfriend rapes
your sister

in a closet as it fills with smoke

screaming maybe
but with no one left to hear

john sweet, 35 and counting, angry, bitter, etc etc, hiding in a pissant town in upstate
new york, a believer in very little. a follower of the writings of j. pollock and of the
words of h. frayne. too much education, and still a shit job. recent publications include
the chapbook Enemy (, the full length collection Human
Cathedrals ( and the electronic chapbook Silence in the House of
Truths (

2003 Underground Voices