Feature > Poetry
Matthew Olzmann

Matthew Olzmann

Matthew Olzmann is the author of two collections of poems, Mezzanines, which was selected for the Kundiman Prize, and Contradictions in the Design, both from Alice James Books. His writing has appeared in Best American Poetry, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Brevity and elsewhere. He teaches at Dartmouth College and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. 

"Cow Crashes Through Roof, Kills Sleeping Man"

                         —Headline, USA Today

There are priests who can protect you
from demonic possession and eternal damnation.
If your house swells with smoke, there are alarms
to alert the fire department; it's possible not much
will be lost. A vaccine to prevent the virus.
A barking dog to deter the intruder.
You can wear a life jacket.
You can wear sunscreen.  
You can wear a helmet, on your bicycle
or while napping on the couch.  
Even bullets can be stopped by a fashionable vest.
But a cow falling through the roof?
There is, my friend, no playbook for that.
It's cloudy tonight.
Above you, the moon recoils
like a witness from a crime scene.
Plan all you want; the sky
is scheming up other plans and will drop them into your life,
without warning. To make it even worse,
you suspect a cow falling through your roof
could come in many contemptuous forms.
Harsh weather. Poor judgment.
Some rare tumor in an untreatable location.
Your address on the internet and a strange man with plenty of time.
Any of these could fall from the sky.
Any of these could keep you awake,
like you are now, staring at the ceiling
which has only a few cracks.

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