by John Sweet



houses burn


my hand silhouetted

against a twilight

october sky


everything is skin

and bone

and silence


and somewhere else

houses burn

and the people inside

refuse to leave


i close my eyes


the child smiles


i don't have enough


to save her




a black line



one after kahlo


she paints her suicide from

memory, the clouds, the shattered

glass, the broken body


she calls her ex-husband pig

and she calls him lover

and he laughs softly and

always in the arms of another woman


they have no children and

she paints this too, an

emptiness inside a blank expanse,

a sky without air, and she climbs

to the top of the canvas


she jumps


spends the last brilliant seconds

of her life naming stars




a black line



your enemy's momentum, your lover's god


the house cold

and the dogs hungry

and myself numbered among them


the slow eight of jesus christ

in a dark room


too much silence to sleep


one hundred eighty pounds of fear

and the baby breathing


the doors open

and the doors closed

and the ghosts of all the hands

that have ever held my own


i asked for none of this


i made no promises


do you believe in america?


look at this girl

tied to the bed


look at the man behind the camera


at the ones who approach her and

at what they hold in their hands


and i hate mirrors

for obvious reasons


i wait for the phone to ring

but it doesn't





and i have a name and i

have a number and

there was a time when i thought

they would mean something


there was a time when

the wars mattered


not how many died but

how quickly victory

could be declared


how much money could be made


all of the beautiful things

it could buy




a black line





midnight in the

house of the dying man and

there is nothing to eat

but darkness


there is nothing to

talk about but regret


the suicides you've known

or the bodies devoured by cancer

or the names of the soldiers

who drove the spikes

through christ


the names of their wives

and children


all of the ways that guilt

ends up bleeding into innocence


and no one wants to see

the killers as human

and no one wants to stand for

too long in the room

of mirrors


sooner or later

all you'll see is what

you've always hated most




a black line



in the age of gold


and the children in the ashes

and some of them playing

and some of them dead


some of them remembered and

others as lost

as the ghosts of aztecs


and there are

the hands of mothers and

there are the hands of strangers

and there is the way that

pain is pain


the way a father’s voice sounds

as the plastic bag is placed

over the head and

tied tight around the neck


the absolute fear when love

is proven to be worthless


none of us anything more

or less than human





a black line


More poetry from Winamop

Copyright reserved. Please do not reproduce without consent.