John Sweet The 2River View, 6.3 (Spring 2002)

the alchemy of fear

on any given afternoon
in this season of grey light
jesus christ is murdered

i am not here to
or disapprove

am not a believer in
anything beyond the cradle of
my cracked and bleeding hands
and some of you may
recognize this poem

this unconscious clenching
of the jaw
this benediction of crows offered
silently on I-88 out where
the indians have reclaimed
the billboards as
their own

what i never knew at
twenty-three was that my anger
would slowly melt into

the same empty battles fought
day after day for ten years
until the morning i wake up sick with
the realization that
nothing will ever be won

and what can i do
for this one small boy but love him
and how can this ever
be enough?

what i learned
from my own childhood was
bitter resentment

the alchemy of
fear into self-doubt and then
how to forge a weapon
from my weaknesses
or maybe something

maybe only a wall
or maybe nothing more
than a thin sheet of glass

this room too bright despite
all of the doubts that
cover the sun

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