Issue 1/1980 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Kallista on ja halvalla menee (‘It comes dear and it’s going cheap’,1975) and Reviirilaulu (‘Territorial song’, 1978). Introduction by Pentti Saaritsa


A seagull shadow flitters across the gulf of the courtyard
over the gone-sour yellow wall
ogreish and swift as an execution by hanging,
that’s how I’m dangling
from this moment in this city
my ankle in the strangling noose
in the night under the jangling stars while over the roofs
a sheetmetal moon’s rising
and blurred dreams are yawning in a thousand windows,
down below me the city
and in my breast my heart, it’s socking
like a knuckleduster.


The simplest noise,
the noise of a glass
when you put the glass down
on a wooden table, the sound of wood
on glass
                     is like
a flash of  happiness
on a melancholy face.


Behind the gauzy trees
light out of cloud.
Brains squeezed by silence.
It won’t open up, not into speech, the flaring van Gogh, the March
willows, the water colour.
The clean street of the eye
through the thick consciousness of the cornfield.
It won’t open up
your hand
enough to make a resting place for a working eye. Like
stepping into cool water.

Night. The stars. We’re ready
to take off each other’s


Tatters of macaroni on the floor.
A lapful of shouting snotty child.
And something eluding me
is lingering
and not shaping into words,
guessed at, on the edge of breaking.
And when I switch the radio on, the playing of
Dmitri Shostakovich
like the butterfly
that had strayed
into the entrance of the Cosmos Restaurant
one evening of September sun
its wings
splashing with light.


If you want to hear
what you want to hear
say it yourself.
My poetry’s not a prayer wheel.
My heart’s not a placard either.
My heart
might be worn-out material,
through in several places.
And a poem,
let’s think of it as a red wrap,
let it wound living eyes
and cover over the dead.

From Reviirilaulu (‘Territorial song’, 1978)


Sitting in a café
and through the window there's a little tree. A maple.
Its leaves are fluttering.
Visible right up to the tip.
Then behind it, though actually it seems in front
a tram's pulling up and stopping. It opens its throat
and teeth rear up.
                 Then the jaws clack shut and the whole contraption slides off.
In the maple
there's a convulsion.


Buying and selling
selling and buying
our own life.
Bad, bad.
It comes dear
and it’s going cheap.

From Kallista on ja halvalla menee (‘It comes dear and it’s going cheap’, 1975)

Translated by Herbert Lomas


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