footnote to bleeding horse sonnet no. 1

the shadows of ordinary objects
at the end of august

the weight of houses
and of hills
and the subtle threat of
empty factories

the idea of blood pooling at the edges
of barren fields and
abandoned parking lots

of a president who hates you

who would have the poor eat the
shit of an idiot god

who would have
the dissidents shot dead and
their bodies burned in
public squares

and who is i that poisoned
the ground you stand on
and how much money have they made
from the bodies of these
teenage girls dying of cancer?

why would i want my sons
sent off to fight a war waged in the
name of greed and petty

the list of people i'd like to see
is already long enough


rain at six a.m. on the edge
of a dying city

rust on the machines and
the tired hands of lovers and
the dogs gone wild

a woman attacked in her
front yard

the starving without names

a baby left behind and
a vulture at its face and the
angels caught in wires

the neon light of god
shot out
by a junkie with a gun

the shallow graves dug
at the edge of the highway

a shovel and
a roll of duct tape

a son and a daughter

and you pray with a
mouth full of ashes

you sing with
a rope around your neck
and your feet not quite
touching the ground

and faith is a desert
and desire a pool of tar

the house has been
on fire
since the day you were born

none of this anything
more than the truth


crawling lost in a
blind room or

in a sunfilled room

in a room where the
windows explode


naked when
the door is opened

or asleep when
the hand is placed over
your mouth or the gun
to your head

someone you know
and he says beg
and you do

gladly at first and then not
and the way your
sister's boyfriend says
he'll kill you if you
tell anyone

puts the tip of his
cigarette against your breast
and says cry
and you do

and i have nothing as
as answers to offer

i understand the twin gods
of money and power

the one who lets his friends
have you for a price

the way he
tells you he loves you

tells you to smile
and you do

one of you the sun and
the other one blind

one of you
locked in a room and the
other one laughing
like the shadow of god

both of you
naked and betrayed

both of you stoned
and desperate

all of us willing to lie
to get whatever
it is we want


or your door kicked in at
four in the morning
and the way he tells you he loves you as
he slams your head against the wall

the way he screams it

this constant need to be believed

a poem on leaving

a building burning
at the ocean's edge

a woman you don't know
in a chalkwhite room

waits with her hands
nailed to the walls

believes in violence
but calls it love

the same
sad fucking song
you've finally learned
to call home


what you are is dead in
someone else's war
and who you are is god's child

and does it help
knowing this?

fuck no

a corpse is a corpse and
a poem is just a poem until it
begins to choke on its own
useless anger

until it begins to sound like
a sharp blade hacking through
the base of the skull

and what i mean
when i say religion is

what happens is that
the killers cannot be identified
and so everyone needs
to be slaughtered
and every corpse defiled

every church
burned to the ground

the future reduced to ashes
before we even arrive

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 (

2004 Underground Voices