The way to anywhere

Issue 3/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Parittelun jälkeinen selkeys (‘Post-coital clarity’, WSOY, 2003). Introduction by Matti Saurama

Enlightenment needs no tools

1.   And I laughed at everything
           and didn’t want to see anything old
there was a fingernail-sized buddha and I walked by it
in the room, trying to find the ceiling,
                           camping out in life, fag in mouth
the soft letters of the clouds, and a blowing skysign
         oh sky
2.    I stand on the street corner
       illuminated like a phone box.
       On the way to anywhere
       and always there already.
3.    In the electric chair you don’t thrash about through free will
       people try to become enlightened
       with private exhibitions and karaoke
       but for enlightenment you need no tools.

Express train 128 leaves from platform 5

The Ferris wheel’s beams are stuck at 4.40 pm.
A man emerges from the train at Salo, remote in hand,
his estate car’s indicators flas and his wife sits down beside him,

easy to walk these few blocks home when the day’s work’s done,
sailor-suited soldiers swing out of the porn-club door
and I think about my wife whom I love insanely, beyond reason

I walk a couple of times past my home gate for fun, wondering
is this how it feels when you’re dotty, when you’re happy.
In the next window to the Venetian blinded private detective’s
they’re displaying the identical tie to the one I’m wearing.
The May tarmac smells and I’m a young man.

                   The bathroom cleaned till it gleams,
                    the plant’s got a bigger pot, and I’ve
                   got a black briefcase from the flea market.
                   On the windowsill lemon balm and basil,
                   a post-coital clarity.
                   Why fear the worst when life can only be lived,
                   the woman’s writing a letter to her sisters,
                   I’m wary with my hands as I sharpen my sheath-knife.
                   A carpet’s drying on the balcony rail,
                   some car drives into the yard
                   and I’ve no idea how it’ll end.

She’s sleeping facing the wall, he creeps under the sheet, bends his knees into the hollows of hers, lays his left hand on her right breast and she puts her hand on his. The balcony door’s slightly ajar, he draws the limpid autumn air into his nostrils, listens to the din mingling with the silence, it’s all feeling so clear, so ultimate, he daren’t drop off.

Heavy bedcover, but we want dreams like that, peaceful and analgesic. Sometimes you remember a moment that happened, where it’s all gone

He and she, where they go at night, the position they sleep in, what the sheets smell like and what the window opens onto when it’s blowing outside and the wall’s cold, when life’s been lived to the dregs, and love to the end.

In an empty table drawer nothing but a feather, the curtain stirs silently, your hair touches your nape, darkness removes the sky like a quilt, and I start feeling cold. The bundle on the floor that I thought was clothes is myself.

                             My friend’s involved in business mergers.
                             I read a book about butterflies.

The trams perform their sad pirouettes

                            The trams perform their sad pirouettes.
                            The years, aftertaste of toothpaste when drinking fresh juice,
                            what you don’t recover from doesn’t even leave a scar.
                            The caretaker’s walking on the gravelled roof,
                            life’s stretching into the past,
                            a bullion-looking pack on the taxi roof-rack.
                            circular-saw screech of seagulls
                            Still, still, still.
                            you wouldn’t leave the world.


Translated by Herbert Lomas

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