The sleepwalker shot himself
on the bridge over the freeway,
while the cars sped on to Dallas.
A jogger who’d just passed
heard the shot, but kept running.
Hadn’t he noticed the bulge
in the pyjamas pocket, the hard
set of the handsome face?
Back in the trailer-home, the dog
whined as if he saw the body
slump, and the blood seep out
into a pool that settled into a
red carpet, as the red sun hauled
itself, inch by inch, over the hilly
horizon, and a lone coyote howled.
A sleepy eagle hovered overhead,
replaying that dream of flying
into a volcano, down until his
wingtips were singed, and he
heard his shriek echo out, out
into the head of one asleep,
making him toss and turn, kick
the blankets off, leave the bed,
go into the night, grabbing the gun.


Matthew Sweeney was born in Donegal in 1952, is currently based in Cork, and has previously been resident in Berlin, Timişoara and, for a long time, London. His latest publication is a retrospective selection, The Night Post (2010). Prior books include Black Moon (2007), Sanctuary (2004), and Selected Poems (2002).

Homepage photograph via Flickr by miggslives

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