The Saturday Poem: Lisdoonvarna by Matthew Sweeney

Matthew Sweeney

Matthew Sweeney


Lisdoonvarna, of all places, was where he demanded
I meet him, to hand over the money. Was he pretending
we were going there to each pick up a country lassie
at the Matchmaker’s Fair. I asked him how I’d get there.
Take a boat, he said. Very funny, I barked, then hung up.

I went down the hill towards the bus station, passing
a woman with two poodles, one in a push-chair, the other
under her arm. The sun was shining as if it was deluded
we were in Spain. I had Charlie Parker playing merrily
in my head, as I’d just taken off the CD before I departed.

I’d ransacked under the mattress and amassed five grand
which I’d crammed into a football sock. Seemed a lot to me
to apologise to him for giving him three donkeys painted
in black and white stripes, and claiming they were zebras.
I mean, he couldn’t claim his pathetic Kerry zoo was great.

And if the weather in Kerry was as good as it was in Cork
the rainstorm wouldn’t have washed the stripes off, or made
the donkeys bray. At least, the Gardai weren’t dragged in.
He’d paid me two grand for the three. He was making a profit,
that was fine, but why did I have to travel to Lisdoonvarna?

Matthew Sweeney’s recent collection was Inquisition Lane, (Bloodaxe, 2015). His previous collection, Horse Music (Bloodaxe, 2013) won the inaugural Piggott Poetry Prize. A new book, My Life as a Painter, is forthcoming in late 2018.