the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




FIVE WORKS
BY JOHN SWEET

POEM FOR THE PATRON SAINT OF LOST CAUSES

my face in the mirror on
a monday afternoon
and all of the things it
apologizes for

all of the ways it becomes
easier to hate than
forgive

fuck poetry

fuck the polite words
scratched onto cheap paper
by crippled hands

imagine that someone beyond
these pale walls
you call home wants only
to see you dead

wants only to build
their future
on your broken bones

how the hell can truth
and beauty protect you from
the smothering weight
of so much blind
hatred?

================

WINTER, DROWNING

the baby almost asleep
on the coldest day of the year

vallejo dead and
the nails pulled out of christ
and the mother walking away from
the burning house

walking away from
the child left inside and then
the fact that there are those who
feel that war is more important
than this one small atrocity

the fact that words
are either weapons or drugs

that whatever can't be
destroyed
needs to be enslaved

look around you
and tell me i'm wrong

================

THE STORY TOLD AGAIN AND AGAIN UNTIL IT BECOMES THE TRUTH

thinking again of
the decade of burnt toast

of waking up on
my 24th birthday in
the bed of a woman whose name
i never learned

of the god of starving dogs
and all of the suicide attempts
he laughed about

this girl with scars on
her wrists
forced to her knees

her brother laughing in
the next room

the act of rape
such a simple thing

================

POEM AFTER FIRST HEARING THE WORDS AMPUTEE CAMP

months too late
before you learn that
the soldiers have been
amputating the
hands and feet of
children

lifetimes
and the sun is
brilliant off of all the
broken glass this parking lot
has to offer

and there has been a
failure here

there has been
a violation and no one
has to answer for it

how much fucking weight
will it finally take to
bring the sky crashing
down around us?

================

BUILDING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: A LITURGY

slowly down these roads until
the houses fade and the sky
has drained itself of color

until the dogs are sick and hungry
and the last priest has confessed
and been sent to crawl
in the shadow of burnt hill

and what i give him is
the bleeding heart of christ

what he already owns are the
bones of the raped

and his hands are black with filth
and his teeth stained with rust and
what he tells me is that i'm unclean

what he offers is salvation

says all i have to do is pay


================

m.a.g.