Brink,  Adolph Gottlieb

triptych, right panel: scenes from the book of wasted days

by john sweet

rain from a sky that
gives off light without

the slow spin of hills
around empty fields and
faded houses and
this is not poetry this is
killing time

it's the fear that i have wasted
too many days
trying to define myself by
what i hate

have wasted
too many sheets of paper
building a home that will keep
no one safe

and do you believe that the
true colors of everything you hold dear
are revealed in november?

can you live in a
world of browns and greys where
every street leads to a
cemetery or a bar?

i gave up on the idea of heroes
at an early age

i watched shaking hands hold needles

watched them load guns
or tie nooses
and all i felt was disgust

and christ didn't die for my sins
and i wouldn't do it for his
and neither of us will save any
starving children in the
third world

no one wants to hear that
is not necessarily a
noble way to spend a life

sonnet for april in the cathedral of passing days

seeing you for the first time
against the poison of the day
or maybe tasting you on a broken
bed in a dark room

finding a quiet space
between pacifism and war

there are things that matter

there are the things i obsess over
until all that remains of my thoughts are
dark scars and cold ashes

and i understand that apologies
are useless and still i apologize

for the bleeding horse
and for the drowning boy
and for myself
and i have forgotten the first time
you told me you loved me

i am tired of christ's bones
scraping blindly down the halls of
every house i call home

and do you see
how easily i get lost?

how quickly complacency and fear
become intertwined?

it's not enough that gorky
gave birth to rothko or that rothko
gave birth to cobain or that
all of them were cowards

i need something more
to believe in

i want to hold this thin sheet of paper
up to the remains of the sun
and know that it casts a shadow

not every act of faith has to be
the beginning of a new religion

©2002 by john sweet

john sweet has been writing for 20 years, and appearing in the small press for 14. He lives with his wife and son in a hideously depressing town in upstate New York, which serves as the backdrop for much of his work.

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