return to exhibitionist archives
Artist, Musician & Writer Exhibition & Interview

John Sweet, 33, lives among the abandoned factories and vacant lots in upstate new york with his wife, their son and three highly unstable cats. He has been writing for 20 years, and publishing in the small press for 14. Collections of his work are scheduled for release in 2002 from Via Dolorosa Press, Ravenna Press and Black Hoody Nation.

turn your mirrors to the walls and drown

the word is love
and still
blood stains the sink
in exotic patterns

or else this
the language you need
to express yourself
has yet to be

you turn your
mirrors to the walls and
drown your youngest

do you begin to see
how simple
things become?

almost a game but for
the bodies dug up
just before the
final frost

and the bodies

is love the word
you would
use to describe them?

pollock paints the deep

your father's death
transformed into a symbol

picture me as
the man who does it

you've stood in
this room before

you've seen the mirrors
turned to the walls

have seen the clocks
running backwards and
what you wanted to know was
if i still loved you

a simple question
and how many years now
have you been waiting
for an answer?

how many times have i tried
to resurrect the burning girl using
nothing but ashes and bones?

and you tell me you'll
agree to surrender if i give
the child my name

you tell me that reaching
the age of christ means nothing
if i don't have his

and what we believe in are
words as weapons

what we fight are holy wars
that no one believes in

nothing worth doing is
ever done without

the myth wearing a suit of pale flesh

this clean cold light at
the end of april and the way that
everything it falls on is
laid bare

the way that
too much between us stays

i have seen hatred
grow from silence before

have tasted the scars of
women sleeping in borrowed rooms
and then gone home hungry

and i want to believe that
my son will be allowed to stay pure
and i want to believe that
he will never bleed

i understand that faith
by definition
is blind

that martyrs are fools and
easily forgotten

no one stays in the burning house
on purpose
and no one walks out

the dead are given names

are given families

children who play in the ashes
and lovers
who can only taste then

there is a man on
the other edge of the continent
who wants to know if what
i'm speaking of here
is god

it should be a simple question
to answer but isn't

this is your voice

this is your voice
but what space
is it filling

what shape does it
try to form when the walls
have all been destroyed?

and then you smile
and i look away

there is this heat
between us
that we never speak of

the ashes of old houses
and the promise of future devastation
and that i am not sorry
for any of it

that i would do it all again
in these unnamed villages
our fathers died in

and who is this
young girl caught horribly in her
shroud of flame and why
does her pain make her holy?

i understand your question
but not your jealousy

there are
lives worse than death and
i spend every second
of every day
keeping this fact from falling
into my son's tiny hands

a futile job
i understand
and i refuse to give it up

i refuse to choke on
the bones of the past
we are always
digging them up in this
charred piece of land
we call home

political poem stained by my own guilt

this day somewhere between
sunlight and poison
but i am no longer a painter

am no longer a believer in
the shadows
that grow from de chirico's mind

i have been told that war is
the only option
like my father before me
and his father before him
and i have seen my son's future

have seen blank-faced soldiers
cutting off the
hands of screaming children

and there are men who
would call this atrocity a political act
and there are the dogs who
fuck them for money

there are the roads in this town
that go nowhere

i have stood
at the end of each one
waiting for my father's death
to become something more than
a symbolic act

i have rolled in
the dirt and the filth with
women destined to become

all they ever wanted from me
was the warmth
of reassuring lies