Issue 22 – Matthew Sweeney

Matthew Sweeney


The Bomb

They blew up my grave last night,
my bones went everywhere,
my startled spirit zipped through the sky
like a panicked crow in a storm.
What was the point of that? he cried
to the trees, and the unblasted stones
that stood upright, with names and dates,
while mine was in smithereens.

The cameras came to record the mess,
and included my ancient photos. 
In all reports that went to the papers 
they chose my least favourite ones,
but my spirit was annoyed at me,
saying it didn’t matter. There was no
shot of you in the grave
, he rasped,
and wasn’t that the relevant one?

I wasn’t sure of this but I was dead, 
and he was hanging around. And he
was all that was left of me, although
now I had my doubts. But how these
had manifested themselves
was a mystery – unless it was the bomb
that had shook me back together again
in the maddest way? Then, what was I?

The Rising

The totem pole towered above the birches
whose silver bark was marked by the moon,
and the dead fox lying on the highway
saw the face on the pole begin to smile
and keep on smiling, till the creature rose
to run and disappear deep into the forest.

The Mist

Go anywhere near the Parque Nacional
and you’ll be assaulted by the mist – 
it’s not a thing, but a squadron,
a gang of wispy thugs sent out
to unsight drivers into crashing,
make unprotected walkers freeze.

These thugs drift over the forest
where no human goes, then veer
out to hog the twisty roads
(and they are twisty!). Sometimes
they lift up to let the sun through,
but then they’re gone. Gauze mobs!

I can even imagine a mist mugger
(although I can’t) taking my head,
leaving me to blunder, blind, down
into the sea, where the hot sun
returns the head and the eyes,
and burns me into a no mist zone.



Born in Donegal in 1952, Matthew Sweeney is now based in Cork, having previously been resident in Berlin, Timişoara and, for a long time, London. Latest publication, a retrospective selection, The Night Post (2010). Several books prior to that, including Black Moon, (2007), Sanctuary (2004) and Selected Poems (2002). Bilingual poetry selections appeared in Germany and Holland in 2008. A new collection, Horse Music, is forthcoming in early 2013, and before that, in late 2012, a satirical novel, jointly written with John Hartley Williams, Death Comes for the Poets, will come out as an E-book and in print.