Poetry Daily home page

Two Poems:

Zero Hour

Tomorrow all the trains will stop
and we will be stranded. Cars
have already been immobilised
by the petrol wars, and sit
abandoned, along the roadsides.
The airports, for two days now,
are closed-off zones where dogs
congregate loudly on the runways.

To be in possession of a bicycle
is to risk your life. My neighbour,
a doctor, has somehow acquired a horse
and rides to his practice, a rifle
clearly visible beneath the reins,
I sit in front of the television
for each successive news bulletin
then reach for the whisky bottle.

How long before the shelves are empty
in the supermarkets? The first riots
are raging as I write, and who
out there could have predicted
this sudden countdown to zero hour,
all the paraphernalia of our comfort
stamped obsolete, our memories
fighting to keep us sane and upright?

The Transformed House

The turnips that grew on the roof
made a deal with the sun, and grew
so big that one of them won
first prize in the show. The vines
that went from the propped-up door
to the wrecked car made a wine
no one could afford, and the basil
that took the place of the window glass
made better pesto than any in Genoa.
The tomatoes in the one-time kitchen
needed 24-hour guarding, as did
the aubergines in the hall. The melons
that had colonised the sitting-room
sucked all the sugar from the moon.
The chillis in the upstairs toilet
curved towards the garlic in the bathroom,
while the lettuce in the bedroom furled.
And the potatoes in the basement
all had the same shape as the head of
the man who slept in the earth among them.

Matthew Sweeney
Jonathan Cape

Copyright © Matthew Sweeney 2004.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.

Sponsor PD!
Kenyon Review, Sponsor National Endowment for the Arts Lannan Foundation Shenandoah Tupelo Press, Sponsor