Poems with rounded corners

Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Talvirunoja (‘Winter poems’, Art House, 1990) and Runot! Runot (‘Poems! Poems’, WSOY, 1992)

A prayer for the trees and the rocks

Around noon I start praying 
	 for the trees and the rocks
     to whom we have always been merciless.
What have we done? 
    What are we doing?

In the valley of the scribbling species

Man and Woman are two animal species, sufficiently close 
to allow procreation.
	They live in a cage called The Human Being,
in a place known as
		the Valley of the Scribbling Species. 
    Woman is the more important animal
But Man built the cage.

When the living outnumber the dead

When the living outnumber the dead, 
   there are no more souls.
Now the flesh looks immortal, 
   and pig and cow procreate.
Money generates profit, 
   the forest suffers loss.
Truly, this is the reign of the werewolf.
   Don't forget to vote.

No, the tree does not complain, the grass does not weep

No, the tree does not complain, the grass does not weep.
	 The forest's eternity is tomorrow, 
never to be attained.
	 With no ticket or tax 
except for death.
No, the tree is not planning to escape.
	 It holds its place in the line 
in the hailstorm of madness.
	 It won't panic.

If trees knew how to write

If trees knew how to write
	 they would do their writing on parchment.
They would peel us, use the skin off our backs 
	 to manufacture the finest parchment.
They would write on it, writing, 
	 tree-writing, noble,
saying those poor humans should be protected:
	 saying, now we are doing all right.

From Talvirunoja (‘Winter poems’, Art House, 1990)


When I die, I'll marry Marilyn 
		   who is dead.
   How can the dead be joined together in matrimony?
No problem. That's when we'll always be together, 
		                     day and night.
   We'll never stray from the straight and narrow.
We won't drink more than four bottles of wine a night, 
    I'll have three, she'll have one.
Sometimes, when we remember our past, we'll laugh,
   sometimes, when we contemplate the future, in silence, 
		                                 we'll smile,
privately, to ourselves. But otherwise, 
		                       day and night,
   and forever.

The Moon Goddess

The coin can be redeemed. That's well put, since redemption indicates eternity. 
One becomes eternal by dying and traveling.
   The coin travels toward the sun of Africa.
There, the image copied off the coin turns into a human being, 
		                    the mask of a human being.
[11 .]
The human face does not have the eternity of the angelic, nor any 
		                    eternity but for the image
when it has received a human face, borrowed from the coin,
when the image has been burned so that its ashes are indistinguishable
		                          from ashes.
A shrub must not be taller than a man, a tree no taller 
		              than a god.
There has to be some kind of god, a tree god, the best of all, 
easy to make, out of god material, always a good likeness,
		          and not too heavy.
That is why the corners of these poems have been rounded 
		       so that no sharp edges remain.

Translated by Anselm Hollo


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