poetry by John Sweet


you alone in
the house of truths

the news of twelve soldiers
ambushed and slaughtered

the news of bodies being
set on fire and
dragged through city streets

and not the sun but

not warmth but
the memory of it

the snow melted and
the streets grey and the screams
of animals caught in traps

the blurred reflections of
strangers in the windshields of
empty cars

all of these words and all of
these images that refuse
to add up to anything more
than themselves but you still
have to stop and consider
each one

you still have to dig
until the bodies are found

it shouldn’t take
much longer than the
rest of your life

ash wilderness 

this little girl with wings
or this middle-aged man with
the bones of his wife locked in the
trunk of a shiny new car

these myths that are actually truths

the way pollock died so desperately

the way lee fell to the floor


and what is history but a
list of names written
backwards in the book of wasted days?

what are words but a
more hopeless form of violence?


i was never this frightened before
my children were born

was never filled with so much useless anger

and i keep coming back to this
eleven year-old girl who
disappears from her home
thirty miles east of here

i keep coming back to her killer

how he never told where her body was

how he laughed on
the day he was executed

not like anything was funny
but like he’d won