Two Poems

Matthew Sweeney

Sanctuary

Stay awhile. Don’t go just yet.
The sirens are roaming the streets,
the stabbing youths are out in packs,
there’s mayhem in the tea leaves.
You’re much better off staying here.
I have a Bordeaux you’ll like,
let’s open it. (I’ve a second bottle, too.)
And a goat’s cheese to fast for,
also a blue from the Vale of Cashel –
and the source of the bread stays secret.
Was I expecting you to stay?
No, I always eat like this.
Hear that – wasn’t it a gunshot?
Come closer, turn the music up.
Maybe we should dim the lights.
Let’s clink our glasses to each other
if no better toast comes to mind.
I told you you’d ooh! at the cheese –
here, have some more. A top up?
You’re the kind of girl I like.
Listen, that was definitely a bomb.
Maybe the civil war has started,
the one they’ve all been promising.
Well, there’s nowhere to go now,
so let’s kill the lights and retire.

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.