Two Poems

Matthew Sweeney

The Twins

are far from identical. One is half-blind,
the other hunts small birds with a crossbow.

One has a decent tenor voice, the other
rasps out the obituaries on local radio.

One is vegan, the other eats everything,
and his favourite meat is bush rat, which

he frequents African restaurants to ingest.
His brother fails to accompany him there.

What have they in common? Blond hair,
a liking for horseracing, and the curious songs

of Leonard Cohen. Did they have the same
mother? Decidedly, yes. The same father?

Of course! Get real. Ask one what his favourite
film is, the other will answer Twin Peaks

even though it was a series, and not a film.
They once nearly died in a fire, but one

saved the other. Which is their mother’s pet?
She won’t tell you. Their father says he should

sell them to an animal-free zoo, but no one
at all believes him, least of all the twins.

The Strong Man

The strong man ran away from the circus
because the lion wouldn’t love him.
He wandered into a forest, and began
uprooting trees. A badger stared at him.
An owl woke up. The man ignored both.
He weaved, howling, through the trees
at top speed, sending squirrels scattering,
till he came to a small, circular lake which
he dived into and swam to the centre.
Treading water, he thought of the lion,
its luxurious orange mane, that he’d love
to run his hand through. He even saw
the sharp shiny teeth in the red mouth
he’d thrown live rats into. How could he
have been nicer to the kingly creature?
Fat tears ran down his red-bearded face.
He felt something tugging at his left foot,
stuck his head into the water and saw a
small serpentine monster was trying to
snaffle him. He laughed and punched the
thing on the snout, which set it writhing,
causing a whirlpool to start up which
the man was fortunate to escape from
but he did, and struck out for the shore,
then hauled himself up to lie there, watch-
ing to see what the monster would do.