Chad Sweeney

New Mexico

Each morning swallows riot
from the throat of Carlsbad Caverns
to fly like address books
low over the desert in pursuit of grace.

All the bad ideas are gathered up
to make a civilization. The corn crop
in my back yard leans over the fence,
tickles my neighbor’s wife
just below the chin.

I’ve apologized several times.

Each morning rats scamper out
from the cemetery,
the voices of children returning.
I’ve apologized several times
to the dwarf who sells me tobacco

to the tobacconist’s lovely daughters
who shoot up on a mattress behind the store.
I apologize. I apologize.

Our great middle class sways on a stool.
My neighbor hides behind it with binoculars
hoping to take his revenge.

Each morning
I hand him a cup of coffee over the fence.

Chad Sweeney is the coeditor of Parthenon West Review, a new journal of poetry and translation. Sweeney’s work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in New American Writing, Slope, Verse, Black Warrior Review, Five Fingers Review, POOL, Puerto Del Sol and elsewhere. He leads poetry workshops with newly-arrived teenagers from Central America, Asia, and the Middle East, as a teacher in the San Francisco WritersCorps. Sweeney’s manuscripts have been finalist in the National Poetry Series, Colorado Prize, Del Sol Press Prize, and runner-up in the Michael Rubin Chapbook Contest. He holds an MFA from San Francisco State University and lives with his wife, poet Jennifer K. Sweeney, on Potrero Hill in San Francisco.