I was born here

Issue 1/1997 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems, introduction by Ilpo Tiihonen

Bloggs

You work eight hours a day,
sleep thirteen.
Three hours are gone in eating
and telling dirty stories by your bed.

When they say, ‘If only you’d
read something, mate –
you’re dribbling your life away,’
back you come with:
‘Living like this 1 make everything mine.’

Bloggs, Bloggs,
should the world be changed for you?

                            From Tie pilven alta ('The way out of the cloud', 1939)

-50°C
(Wartime January nights)

Those January nights
the stars’ teeth
crunched at
the frost’s bread.

Those January nights
the moon was a coffin
sailing into
the blue hell the zenith.

The black forests
shook while
columns of the aurora borealis
came to a standstill.

There was the flash
of frost’s dagger in
Death’s hand
those January nights.

                           From Palasin kotiin ('I came home', 1944)
Spring crept on to the tin roofs
     and danced there with the wind
spring ripped the windows open
     and whipped the housewives out on to the balconies
     to belabour their mats
spring lured the men down to the shores
     and got them buying lots of spare
     bottles of booze
spring threw the girls onto the boys' moped-pillions
     and hurtled full-throttle
     along the highways
spring licked the park trees reddish
     and blued the evenings
     and lost a lot of girls their virginity.
Spring came home at five a.m.,
     clicking its heels nippily
     on the asphalt.
                             From Minä, paljasjalkainen (‘I was born here', 1962)

Translated by Herbert Lomas

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