small textlarge text

Scott Sweeney

The Ruins (Sonnet)

We screw among the ruins, the bruised light
illuminating our bodies—like all
this world’s brilliance, temporary.                       We blank
our minds, tender our resignations, come
apart.             The blinding trashscape, then shadow.
Sparrows pick at refuse, our underthings,
then fly somewhere brighter.                     We screw toward
End Times and hope at the same time.                 We screw
toward death.                         It’s the final kick drum and
cymbal crash, last hit off the hash pipe, one
more before slag heap, lead lake, sleeping bag
atop landfill, exhaust pipes to Heaven.
We clasp hands among the ruins, naked,
walk to where the horizon used to be.

The Lady Next Door

to my mother in the nursing home
is now
the lady next to my mother’s body.
She doesn’t know.
She doesn’t see my mother lying—waxy and unnaturally beige—
with a rolled-up towel under her chin to keep her
mouth closed.
It isn’t working.

The lady next door, in the next bed, is complaining that the light
behind my mother’s head is shining right in her face—
sneaking past the privacy curtain that divides the room
and has been pulled away from the wall.
I step next to the lady’s bed, offer to turn off the light
as I pull the curtain back to the wall.
“I don’t want to disturb her,” the lady says.


Frost has just touched
the fallow fields outside Monticello.
We drift through,
hoping to attach ourselves to some higher destiny
like betting slips that litter
the parking lot at the dog track,

like this day will be another wager
that won’t pay.
With so many leaves off the trees,
we can see well past the peach-painted, slat-board house
on Jefferson Street, to the modular home ministries beyond.

Who expects us to complete this race,
side by side, as we sit in this car,
or one just before the other
in some kind of photo finish?

We point the car east, where the sun—
still below the horizon—turns
airplane contrails into a parade of comets
heading elsewhere.

➥ Bio