This poem was published in The Poetry Review, spring issue, 2016.

The Red Helicopter

by Matthew Sweeney

Who authorised the red helicopter
to fly over the city, and stay
buzzing there, cruising in wide
slow circles, like a giant vulture?

The noise crashed into my sleep
yesterday morning before I knew
what it was, then when I realised,
I looked out and saw nothing

though the blades kept whirring,
getting louder, then quieter, but
never stopping – they wouldn’t until
they’d found what they were looking for.

I ducked under them to go into town
to buy the dinner. A cloud emptied
so I taxied home, and heard a search
was on for a sixty-three-year-old man.

I was that man but what had I done?
Had I killed someone and not noticed?
I went into the kitchen, played Coltrane
so loud it silenced the helicopter.

I also attacked the Scottish malt.
This morning the noise whacked me again,
so I ripped the shutters open, and
there it was, big and red in the sky.

It was hovering right above the house.
There was no hiding-place anymore.
I pulled on my kimono, marched out,
barefoot, onto the terrace, to stand there.

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

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