October 7, 2018

An Exit Strategy / Vines, Tangled with Frost by John Sweet

an exit strategy 

the factory on fire, the ladder
to heaven, the sunlight
and all of them lies

the stars at midnight instead,
five below zero at the end of january
and the animals in this room with their
failed attempts at language

the smell of gasoline

the absence of humanity

i have embraced it for reasons
that remain my own

i have imagined an ending to the
story in which all pain is
fleeting and easily discarded

have grown tired of swallowing
poison but
can’t seem to give it up

can’t seem to call this house home
even after painting its walls
with my blood

can’t make these words explain 
the things i need them to

vines, tangled with frost 

no fear because you’re pretty
sure it’s a dream, this silence, 
this late afternoon room with
the shadows of trees climbing
the walls, dust caught in sunlight,
child facedown on the bed you
sit at the foot of, your oldest
son, crying softly, dying, which
is a weight left unspoken, air
thick with the taste of metal,
of sweat, of the fear you
thought was missing, and you
can’t get warm enough and
you have no words

you wake up lost
in an empty house

sound of ragged breathing

John Sweet writes from the vast deserts of upstate New York.  Recent collections include Approximate Wilderness (Flutter Press) and Heathen Tongue (Kendra Steiner Editions).  Most of the truths about his life can be found in his writing.

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