Say what you like

30 March 2007 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Sanomattomia lehtiä and Leikitään kotia (‘Newsless newssheets’, ‘Let’s play house’, Tammi, 2004 and 2005)

Scent of morning

Say what you like about life, but life’s nothing that’s been said. The sun sets in a sepia setting where together a man and a woman walk out of the picture. At the start of the romantic’s story candles are lit, the girl stoops to hear better. Lonely stones roll from the horizon’s laughter, farewell to the continuity we love. Just for a second you could see from his face what he’d look like in twenty years.

Lonely stones

I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but this isn’t a story and it has nothing to say. I watched a little girl trying to reach an unripe apple on an old apple tree. They used to load up unnecessarily heavy burdens. Yesterday’s birds, for example, aren’t today’s. Aspens grow in spite of their convictions, and yet there’s still something ingenious about puzzle pictures. He considered putting another coat of paint on the kitchen ceiling. Time, progress and good taste. The man breathed in her laughter. It’s what’s called love. That’s how sentences turn to stone. Light’s playing on the house’s bleached face. Two pigeons on the windowsill of space and a marble angel. The whisper came again: the secret of lasagne is nutmeg. The carpet beater was beating carpets on a steel rack. Something made a move. A stuffy moment, a man in his black swivel-chair. The heralds of spring. Imagine all that somewhere else. Smoke rose from his nostrils like steam from the sewers. It’s what’s called love. I watched a little dog scampering around a girl. A thread always stuck out from somewhere, likely to unravel the whole cloth. And I raised my hat, bent to enter it and vanished.

An hour in St Petersburg

Purposeful purposelesness.
— John Cage

        A day and night long as a saint's hair
all day I thought about doing this
         and now I've finally arrived here, with you,
        I'm considering going elsewhere, I'm considering
   a caucasian beerhall, chicken kebabs, speech
                     released from people by the crystallised night,
             October's lapping
                  on the windowsill,
it's the leitmotiv of this atmosphere so dear to me
         in the wagnerian sense, I've
                      put a record on
         Brian Eno: Music for Airports

                why am I telling you all this?
   surely I do have a reason
                   just as trees have their reason
                                           their grain hidden from humanity
         tonight I want language full of happenings
     full of free thoughts on
                  the advancing staves of emotion
     we're language-producing animals
        we're perfectly justified in saying
     this distinguishes us from the animals
         I pop open
                a bottle of unreal ale


                            I won't say more than this
                 about globalisation
                              I think
               I feel some distant memory
                                  stirring somewhere,
                                        in the recesses of my cells?
                                       in my brainwaves?
the tip of my tongue
        I'll leave it unwritten, won't write
          about the woman who
tonight in the vastnesses of russia
       will die violently, like more than a hundred people,
                             killed by themselves or by somebody else,
         rashly, with a kitchen knife or empty bottle,
       increasingly nowadays with a gun,
                             and deliberately
       the number's triple the figure in the us of america
    and it's 43 times that in france
                                           this is statistics
they've nothing to say about human suffering
          a body is a body is a body
       is a mind, is a sorrow, is delight
                     is an empty bottle devoid of spirit
                     I think of passing time
                          that it's an abstraction
                                but nothing real therefore
but evening
        advances into night
               the pendulum of day and night
         swings over our life's abyss
        no, no I'm not going to eschew pathos
      its seductive dark confusing loops
I'll traverse the whole register
         scarcely budging from my place
     night long, life short
         lights go on, electric flowers
              trembling blue harebells
            in the apartment block windows
   in the main evening newscast of the day:				

               NORD OST

broadcast live
                   terrorists hostages policemen army media
        relatives, tearful, exclusive interviews
             specialists - an inexhaustible natural resource - the odd
                   curious passer-by defying the cold night
                            the heavy breathing of the news anchor
                       rises as thought bubbles into the frosty night
                   the president's face
          tight, keeping it straight
                how to describe a world
                     that expands explosively
in every direction?
                      they caught the assassin
         a nice-looking fellow
if the world's unpredictable and you can't say anything for certain
                  this sentence too is useless
                                 useless art!
                                          partisan or non-partisan
        minutes thicken towards their end
                or as an old man of a hundred
would say:
          it all happened so quickly.













Translated by Herbert Lomas


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