april sweet photo

john sweet, 35, married, a father of 2, most of his life spent in the rural wastelands of upstate new york, where anything beautiful is defined by the ugliness of everything that surrounds it. underpaid, overeducated and a believer in both the written word and the futility of the written word.

notes on "notes":

this seems to be how the poems are formed now. no forethought. just pry the first few words loose from the pen, and then see what happens. pollock has always been a source of fascination for me, so it only seems logical to take his approach to painting and try and apply it to writing. catharsis becomes its own form of truth.

find more of john's work at
Burning Word
his full-length collection
Human Cathedrals
is available from
Ravenna Press

Monday's Poem

pollock creates the universe: notes and theories

© john sweet

not the face of god but
something real

a trailer on fire in some
hopeless stretch of america and
this young girl sleeping inside

her mother driving away

such a simple act of hatred
and when i tell you i love you
all you hear are
silences before and after

and this is unfair
of course
and probably untrue and so
i say it again

i consider the waitresses i've known
who were raped in truck stop parking lots
and the ones who took money

the ones who mistook me for
something more than a starving dog

and what i've never told you is that
my father was left-handed

that this was the fist
that passed judgment

and what i've never told anyone is
when our last fight took place
or what it was about
or how it ended


i understand the need for victory
to be declared
after the last body has been thrown
into its shallow grave
i understand addiction

watched my mother
get on the plane after she got
the last phone call

stood next to her in a windowless room
at two in the morning
while she listened to the doctor
explain the possible futures

while she told him to
turn the machines off

and here i am almost ten years later
with this constant need
to dig up the corpse again and again

here i am with the knowledge that
all fears are magnified in january

the sun is a lie
and my hands feel nothing
and any truths that we claim to know
are best left unspoken

any silences that lie between us
are best left unexplored

now imagine
the canvas unrolled on this dirty floor
and the need to drink

imagine the roads all coming
or going

the hills and
whoever we left beyond them
when we ran

imagine the veins filled with poison
and the prayers with anger and
do you see why we laugh
when nothing is funny?

do you know of
any patron saints for this
little girl tied up in a plastic bag
by her father?

tell me you wouldn't stick
a knife in the throat of
any bastard who did this

tell me that justice is
more precious than vengeance

close your eyes and
paint whatever it is you see