John Sweet, The World Without Colour

max ernst at the forest’s edge

in the end
you cut the dragon just to
watch it bleed

you teach the orphans to pray
then burn the village to the ground
and the story rests like mercury
in the palm of your hand

the sun screams silver
then white

then january

the air as cold as poison and
bitter with the taste of gasoline and
in the end
there is nowhere to go but home

there is nothing to do there
but hide


all those afternoons
spent eating white light

didn’t seem like failure until i
was 30, until i was 35

woke up to amy saying
we are between these fragile walls
and that was the problem

she was angry at everything she’d never had
and i was sorry for everything i’d
ever lost and
her best friend wanted to fuck us both

the sound me made was like
christ at twilight

was the freeway at the
end of december

the blind eyes and the
starving children with their mouths
full of salt

the deer in the headlights
then hit at seventy miles an hour

your uncertain laughter suddenly
swallowed up by your screams

neruda, obliquely

but is this the dying room?

no one will say

old man in a chair in the corner,
young girl at his side,
both of them with filthy wings

five below zero and blinding sunlight

prisoner has one good eye left,
and so he pulls it out and eats it

ask him his reasons
and all he does is smile

bomb the hell out of your enemy
because the only way to win the war
is to kill everyone who
doesn’t think like you

vallejo knows this, but he’s
out of money & out of time

refuses to believe that poverty
is just another form of defeat

sits in his room on that last day
and mistakes
all of his mirrors for windows

the alchemist

cold sunlight through dirty
windows on the morning of the diagnosis

NOTHING and NOWHERE have both
become answers now

shadows of houses fill the streets

taste of frost in his lover’s mouth
and he can never hear what she’s saying

smiles at the
thought of the crucifixion

says fuck, it’s not like
his was the only one

asks what kind of sadistic assholes
would build a religion on this shit? and
then he shakes a pill out of the bottle

washes it down with a
small cup of blood

hasn’t yet heard the
news of his youngest child’s death

some thoughts on the man she sees when she closes her eyes

gives in to the incomplete shapes
of the people from his past

answers letters and emails,
says i love you, says
i loved you, watches snow blow
past the windshield

this is the world without color

these moments are all
shades of dull grey

steps closer to god in the
dying light of some january
afternoon, and all he will ever
be is cold

John Sweet was born in 1968 and is still numbered among the living. He sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate NY. John is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, and in the continuous search for an unattainable and constantly evolving absolute truth. His latest poetry collections include HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions) A BASTARD CHILD IN THE KINGDOM OF NIL (2018 Analog Submission Press), and A FLAG ON FIRE IS A SONG OF HOPE (2019 Scars Publications). All pertinent facts about his life are buried in his writing.

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