Author: Pentti Holappa

Do not be afraid

Issue 2/1998 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Älä pelkää (‘Do not be afraid’, WSOY, 1997). Introduction by Jyrki Kiiskinen

Travel preparations

Late Friday night. Strange noises in the yard, someone
bangs on the door to the next stairway. Electricity hums.

I have just come back from the U.S. and France, from Sweden too.
On their channels, people laugh. They are having fun.

They are, nowadays, strange, young, and handsome, each and every one.
We did not have that when I was young. We limped.

We did not talk. We stammered tortuous phrases
and, while embracing, were afraid to be seen.

We did embrace. We clung to one another, expecting
to drown alone in every ninth wave.

I know my place is not here where I am. I think, I try
to construct conclusions. Someone looks over my shoulder.

Slowly the universe was born out of my mother s womb.
I am not responsible for its sudden extinction. On a Friday night.

I let them rule, the beauties and young lovers. My ticket has been written.
it is ready. I have had my shots against fear. I have my passport.


No European he who does not every morning
put on a tie. This morning, European
as I am, I looked at myself in the mirror
and noted that, incontrovertibly, more
and more every day, I resemble a
sad bulldog. Who has ever seen a bulldog smile?
We know we were born into the wrong world,
born to struggle. My bloodshot eyes tell me
I would like nothing better than to bed down m the straw
with my adversary, the bull, and ponder the stars.

Paradise apple

Consciousness is anchored to dark matter
as are the swells to the ocean. It is a quality
of matter, darkness glittering darkness. No need for words,
the overarching multidimensional web is one seamless
thought, not verifiable by observations or signs.
As soon as light penetrates the ambiguity of being,
the fruit falls outside the bounds of paradise.

The first sense

For another moment, you are incomprehensibly close,
you are mental image, you are voice, almost scent.
Only touch is missing, the most elementary of sensations
but precisely the one with which God tested the clay
with which the worm knows itself
with which there is hurt in torture and love,
and with which I miss your retreating appearance,
your tender groin, your rough hand.

(Written after a telephone conversation.)

Translated by Anselm Hollo

Nothing but air

Issue 4/1994 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Ankkuripaikka (‘Anchorage’; WSOY, 1994) and Sormenjälkiä tyhjässä (‘Fingerprints in the void’, WSOY, 1992)

Images from nature

A sick fox recoils to the deepest corner of his hideout.
His coat’s moulting in tufts, rain’s drenching him, death’s on the way.
A pine stands sentry on the pile of stones, its bright green needles
adorned with dew for this last day. Somehow it’s a celebration.
A crow drops in, and sings a note. ‘Goodbye,’ the forest sighs, and
so does the whole world. A soul’s ecloding from its cellular pupa.
It yelps as it exits: ‘Why? Why are there still stars? Why must I fall so deep?’ More…