JOHN SWEET – 2 POEMS

Dying

The center of town and absolute

stillness. The shadows of birds carved

into a luminous sky, and the shadows

of powerlines, and the trees all shimmering

where they touch the air.

And not sorrow, but the weight of it, the

memory, and every shuttered window on

every silent building. The idea that I used

to be a different person, possibly a better one,

and then the reality of where I am now. The

moment I knew I’d lost you, or maybe nothing

so simple. Maybe days, months, years of

fading emotions.

Maybe an empty room in a different town.

Maybe a trailer at the edge of an autumn field.

I was there with your sister,

and she promised she wouldn’t tell.

Said the same thing the second time, and

the third, and then she got married.

Then she found God.

Told me what it felt like while she

got dressed after our last time.

~

The avenues, all lined w/ trees

Approaching midnight, heat of the day still everywhere, still

stuck to everything, caught in the trees, filling these rooms,

objects pushed aside, broken, music drowned out. This is the

moment. This is the here, the now, and it really doesn’t

matter how many soldiers will die in the war. It really doesn’t

matter what war it is we’re talking about, or how many

civilians will be raped, beheaded, lined up along bloodstained

walls and machine-gunned down. The wheels are in motion.

The men you’ve elected have their orders. You will die old and

alone. Without ceremony, but this is moving too far ahead.

Quarter after midnight, rumble of thunder, distant lightning,

still no rain. Mortgage due, phone bill due, numbers never

adding up in the checkbook the way they should. Hands of

Christ caught in the whirling blades. No need for Judas. No

need for the cross. The rest of your life will be punishment enough

for whatever it is you’re guilty of. No one ever really believes in

                                                                   hope until it’s too late to matter. 

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