Tesseract: Build the House Just to Burn It Down. {poetry}

Nothing to do, you know?

Hemingway as dead as Bukowski and
who the fuck cares?

Got to get on with
the simple act of living

got to build the house just to burn it down

newborn baby on the second floor,
mother in the passenger seat
as the car pulls away,
but this is the sort of shit that is always happening

this is how life takes shape

21 and just out of college, gets a job
doing dishes at a truck stop in
the next town over

passes the time fucking
someone else’s wife
in his two-room apartment

writes letters to a poet he thinks he loves
but never gets an answer

never gets past second base with the
junkie waitress who works swing shift, and
he’s pretty sure it’s time to move

he’s pretty sure he won’t

understands his father to be immortal
but then the son of a bitch dies

close your eyes tight enough
and you can see the humor

stay in bed while
stands out in the hall and cries

what we all want here is money,
except maybe your mother who just
wants the phone to stop ringing

end of summer finally

buzzards and jackals, parasites

we all smell blood but only
some of us know what it means and
he’s down by the river with some
swerved river song running through his head

I’m in bed with Nikki while her boyfriend’s
getting laid in the back seat of a Mustang
on the other side of town and
pain is what we all have in common
or maybe an indifference to it

the fine art of crawling on broken glass

the pile of clothes found in the
dumpster behind the restaurant just as
you’re getting to work and
does the killer need a reason?

No, every act of violence is
someone’s idea of a good time

minister’s wife, naked and raped,
strangled, dumped off a bridge onto some
railroad tracks an hour north of here

your entire life becomes a series of
pointless acts that can’t be undone

your father is a fist,
a wordless scream,
an empty room

he’s someone you used to know,
or maybe not

maybe a stranger
hooked up to a machine and then
the machine turned off, and do you
cast a shadow standing in the shadow of bigger things?

Do you have
children of your own to fail?

A wife to leave?

the good times are here and no one
wants to see them go

we can all hate ourselves, but why would
we want to be suicides?

Fuck you sad-ass martyrs without causes,
you minor gods of empty religions

the age of Christ
is the age of zero

let the dogs drag your children to
the river and drown them

let your promises fall like tears in a
desert of your own making

look, give up your addictions
for god
and you’re still just a junkie

put your head in the noose and
you’re guaranteed to hang

I will tie your hands behind your back
if that’s what you want

will kick the chair out from
under your feet
if that’s what it takes to make you laugh

nothing we do in this life
should ever be done out of hate.


John Sweet is a believer in writing as catharsis. He’s opposed to all organized religion and political parties. He avoids zealots and social media whenever possible. His latest collections include Heathen Tongue (Kendra Steiner Editions), A Bastard Child in the Kingdom of Nil (2018 Analog Submission Press) and A Flag on Fire is a Song of Hope (2019 Scars Publication). All pertinent facts about his life are buried somewhere in his writing.


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