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Poem of the Day
Flash Fiction


Poetry by John Sweet



rumors of war

you wake up
twelve years later in a
nameless town and
everything you know has
turned to dust

the child has a stranger's
the mother an addiction

she crawls to
the hand that beats her and
there is the potential here for
love or at least for
something that passes
for love

and you cannot
call these people home

cannot call
your scar tissue beautiful
when every mirror reflects
the past

do you remember
the day your father died?

you were twenty-seven
and hungover
with the blood of a
lover's abortion still staining
your hands

you cried for yourself

made pointless promises
to an empty room
and refused to answer
the phone

there were rumors of war
but they came to nothing

the killing remained
as you aged a year and
then another

found yourself married
and mortgaged
and you were afraid
of the baby

were afraid of
failing it

fell asleep at night
the air around you
couldn't last forever

in these holy days

but what god
do i pray to in these
holy days of january?

my voice is rust
my hands bitter claws
and why do the
children scream?

not all of us have
known starvation

not all of us
speak of crucifixion in
hushed tones

the days are what
worry us instead

money owed
and lovers lost and how
each cigarette can be
reduced to a scar on
a young girl's

how yellowgrey light
falls from any
afternoon sky to press
against the spines
of the hills

and i have spent
five years now trying to
explain wilderness

trying to map
the spaces between us
but they are always

blackened bones
in fields of dirty snow
suddenly gone
only to be replaced by
houses that are never
warm enough
and i am sometimes
finding you down these
luminous hallways

a stranger i've known
all my life
and you are looking
for what you've lost

are crying
while the baby sleeps

a sound like
any ocean the drowning
call home
and what i finally know
is that i'll never
save us both

the faint illumination of your heart

the sky at
this late date
huge and raw above these
snow-covered roofs

and what is space but
some simple thing
between us?

i know your name
your skin
your lips
and would gladly place
any part of you on the tip
of my tongue even as our
secrets all dissolve
into smoke and

i would trace my way
through dark rooms just to
watch the faint illumination
of your heart

and you call this love
and the taste it leaves is

but addictive
and the doors refuse to
close completely

the phone rings
at awkward moments
or the baby falls and
draws blood

and if i take this
one last step towards you
what am i forcing aside?

does it have or even
need a name?

and when we touch
i finally understand
the futility of

myself a father

what my father
never lived to see was
myself a father

what the moon
fails to illuminate is
the drowning boy's

you will find his name
written in chalk on
the walls of these
abandoned factories and
you will caress it like
your lover's

will repeat it like
a litany of broken glass
and will understand that
no one is saved

that no one is safe

not even my son and
for this reason alone
i place my foot on
the throat of god
and press

in the room of empty chairs

tuesday morning in the
room of empty chairs and
does it matter
what color the walls are?

can you
speak a magic phrase
and go back to a time in your life
when you thought you
were happy?

i'll tell you this much

there are days when
i wake up and understand
that all of the poems i've ever written
are meaningless

that my marriage is sinking
beneath its own grim weight

and what can i do in this
land of burning crosses when
the only way to fight violence is
with violence?

how do i tell my son that all i have
to give him
are empty ideals?

and i cannot say for sure that
is worth dying for

i cannot remember the reason
these chairs all face the
open window

it was a mistake thinking
the sky might ever
care enough
to offer forgiveness




About the Author


As for a bio, I live with my wife and our young son here in the wastelands of upstate new york. I've been writing for 19 years now, publishing in the small press for 13. I hate all schools of poetry, and try to keep my distance from any that seem to be trying to get too cozy with me. My work can be found at Burning Word, Locust Magazine, and Thunder Sandwich. A couple of my chapbooks are available through contacting the editors at Kitty Litter Press and Via Dolorosa Press. My full-length book human cathedrals should be out in December, sells for $9.50, precise details can be obtained from the editors at www.ravennapress.com. My email address is bleedinghorse99@aol.com, for anyone who wants to condemn me or damn me with faint praise.