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by John Sweet



the philosophy of negative light


you in yr

funeral crown,

in yr brother’s best suit, end of

winter and the weight of the

upstate desert


distance from the

bridge to the river


from the muzzle to

the temple, and she’s fifteen,



she’s found on her bed

by her father


note says no more worries, and

everything you need to know about the

mechanics of suicide is

right there on the internet,

because freedom is the key


the destruction of everything

beautiful is a given


i refuse to accept the blame

for any of this




a line, (a short blue one)



grey lies the kingdom



a slow collapse

in an upstate landscape


an apology


not sincere and devoid of all meaning

but why would you ever think

you deserved more?


why would the dogs ever bother to do

anything but fuck you in your sleep?




it’s not the boredom that

kills you in the end

but the pain


death with the head of a crow

riding a silver horse and

it’s the past you’re afraid of


                and it’s the future


it’s all those bright blue

sunfilled days in between


the sound of your name spilling

out of an ex-lover’s mouth


went back to his wife after he

got bored hitting you,

but still wanted to be friends


still wanted to taste your tears


laughed when he told you

it was better than nothing




a line, (a short blue one)



poem for symbolic crows



all blue sky & clouds like

some minor victory






a map for a life you can’t

remember choosing but

here you are


gotta hold onto

those addictions

with care


gotta really listen to the words of

all those songs

that were supposed to matter


take a handful of pain

and give it your lover


open fields where i write this

and then the river and

then the mountains


coyote up on baker hill


man with wings but no

memory of how to use them


child on fire in an empty room

but why lay blame?


you can’t be sad for every victim or

you’d never be anything but sad


every house here is

the same as every other and all

roads circle back on themselves




dog with his eyes gouged out

tied to a tree

just up past the interstate


do you speak the language?


do you sing the blues?


and yr sister with her lover’s guitar

and her dreams of joni mitchell

and the reasons we all have

for running away


the movies made about the tragic

lives of overdosed porn stars


a book full of gods

who have always hated you


funny that yr life seems

as worthless as mine




a line, (a short blue one)



a crusade, obliquely


i am not lacking in belief but,

beyond myself,



no mysticism


no other or higher


my generation a

generation of one, not

victims or traitors, not a mass of

bodies surrendering but

turning away


fuck this is one thing, you see,

and fuck you another


and laughter at self or in

the face of annihilation


at the moment of impact


pull the trigger

or push the plunger


set fire to the past


i am not lacking in compassion

but, beyond the here and

now, what?




a line, (a short blue one)



erie st.


says she’s in love w/

the poet


says she’s lost in the forest


tell her one or the other

and she laughs at

all the wasted years


tell her the poet’s been dead

since ‘71

and she calls you a liar


says the baby looks

just like him




a line, (a short blue one)





in luminous hands held

the leash and one of us there

on the floor, on the other end,

trapped in pools of sunlight


and had no use for hope and

       had no sorrow

and strange to be saying that but

               any dog that bleeds can

                 learn to be healed and

what i wanted was for you to

                   be the girl on fire


what i wanted was to be

the ghost who saved you



a line, (a blue one)


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