Change the words

30 March 2008 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Bul bul (‘Bulbul’, WSOY, 2007). Introduction by Karri Kokko


Which street was it? A question in a poem doesn’t demand an answer, it’s
itself, like that accurate filter, a blood-soaked liver –

The city was a giant, budging my brains, the fireworks’
ash trailed down to earth, the clowns screeched, a book’s face
was waiting like a child’s face,
and they began swarming out, releasing themselves from signposts,
neon signs, from the pages of a closed book (smelling of a dried
ranunculus), from graves, from a woman’s abhorrent womb – More…

It takes a life to say

Issue 4/2007 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems, published in You go the words (Action Books, Scandinavian Series, Indiana,  2007). Introduction by Trygve Söderling


We go and search
and we wander
we go and search
it is not in the words

it is not words
words not
but of a nothing
o your day


You go the
and where,
where you, it was
I know not and
that to your ear
and with the eye
just with finger


And spread out
the earth, rose
As a moment
burst from the breast

To only
that and we have
o that in you
it lives
through the room


The song
Hear me no more
in spaces captured
the song
the worldall songs
and worldsongs
in spaces captured
the song


One time
but not some one truly
and no one knows

I have a name
and name have
it only
o that one


a longing
and oflight
and on your
and in eye’s
like tights hut
and oflight
and on your
A longing
and of light


A morning’s
or that
that in everything
a memory, hope
or presence
leaf air, as everything
and everything – as
something or
as in forgotness play
and day turnedto


Words are words
and things are in my room

But word’s image
image and word and to word

Alas stay not
delay not, remember not:
it is no more It is


Fly out, my day
fly, fly day to meet
fly, fly, you the wretched's
                 their, everyone's
in all times
               peace and day
on ground's floor
               floor ground
o you
               in man's name


like a flame’s
day’s snow melt
in golden a black
– this beforemaydaycoolness


Dog bolts happy
boy mountainclimbs
day over earth
earth’s light and autumn


  And to not speak more
   it takes a life to say
  but –
   as the everyday moment
O no beauty But your light
  – a smile
   what and to know


And allthesame
and allthesame
the wordlight

The white day
and like facial
hand and ease eye’s featuers



Vi går och söker
och vi vandrar
vi går och söker
det är ej i orden

det är ej ord
ord ej
men av ett intet
o din dag


Du går de
och var
var du, det var
jag vet ej och
att till ditt öra
och med ögat
blott med finger


Och bredd ut
och jord, steg
Som en stund
sprängd ur bröstet

Att endast
det och vi har
o att i dej
det bor
genom rummet


Hör mig ej mer
i rymderna fången
världsalltet sånger
och världssångerna
i rymderna fången


En gång
men ej någon riktigt
och ej någon vet

Jag har ett namn
och namn har
det blott
o att ett


en längtan
och av ljus
och på din
och i ögas
likt tillslutet
och av ljus
och på din
En längtan
och av ljus


En morgons
eller att
att i allt
ett mine, hopp
eller närvaro
löv luft, som allt
och allt – som
något eller
som i glömdhet lek
och dag tillvänd


Ord är ord
och ting står i mitt rum

Men ords bild
bild och ord och till ord

Ack stanna ej
dröj ej kvar, ej minnes:
det är ej mer Det är


Flyg ut, min dag
flyg, flyg dag till möte
flyg, flyg, du de armas
                  deras, allas
i alla tider
                lugn och dag
på marks golv
                golv mark
o du
                i människans namn


som en flammas
dags snö smält
i gyllen ett svart
– denna föremajdagssvalka


Hund skenar glad
pojke bergsklättrar
dag över jord
jords ljus och höst


  Och att ej tala mer
  det tar ett liv att säga
  men –
  som vardagens stund
O ingen skönhet Men ditt ljus
  – ett leende
  vad och att veta


Och alltjämt
och alltjämt
det ordljus

Den vita dag
och som ansikts
hand och lätta ögats drag


Translated by Fredrik Hertzberg

One and twenty

Issue 3/2007 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

(Extracts from the epic poem Kaksikymmentä ja yksi, Otava, 1974)

[Canto I]

Twenty-one and a sail, days and nights.
              Nights, they sleep. Days, they row, days and days up the Nevá,
they row, stop at night, pull the vessel with ten pairs of oars
              across the bare water,
from the Nevá to the Roiling Waves, from the Roiling Waves
              up to Novgorod, from Novgorod to the headwaters,
                        and from there across the isthmus,
over round logs, running the last log up to the prow, they pull,
they row, they descend, they pull, they sail toward Pohja,
               the Southland.
Twenty-one and a sail, days and nights,
              nights, they sleep, they row, day and night, up the Nevá.
The rower turns into arms, the arms turn into palms,
              the palms turn into oars, the oars turn into the river, the river runs.
Night changes to day, day changes to autumn, autumn to wind,
              the wind turns into a sail,
as one single bird ten pairs of oars pairs of wings fly upriver,
              across the isthmus, all night without stopping
they pull, they float the vessel, they keep going
              toward the Southland.
And South is the name of a slave.
They stand in the Southland's yard.
              Bent, Bent, Nightbird, Big Toe, Crow's Son, Cuckoo's Son,
Väinö's Son, Dead Man’s Son, Whitefish, Black Dick
              Man’s Wood, Broom, Lover Boy, Pumpkin,
Water Cloak, Fishless, Stocking Foot, Fist, Mast and Fishery.
              Bent and Bent are twins, their father is also a Bent,
                      Bent the Guardian of the Spears.


Oh heiferiness and humanness

30 September 2007 | Fiction, poetry

Kesäillan kevyt käsitteellisyys.
III laulu: Suvisimfonia, omistettu Joel Lehtoselle.
‘A summer evening’s slight conceptualness’.
III song: Summer symfony, dedicated to the author
Joel Lehtonen (1881–1934)
Eros (WSOY, 2002)

A summer evening’s slight conceptualness

Ah summer evening, and its eveningness,
its prodigious wonders and their bridgefulness
when the nightunited seamlessness
steals into one’s heart with restfulness

O heiferiness and humanness,
ah shivering shimmeringness,
innocents’ innocuousness
and vastness with its stresslessness –
five or six chicks of a dabchick,
and deep water, lapfulness.

Our blue sky’s mirrored changefulness!
the spruces’ tall topliness, their tips’ sacredness
the yellow-billed black singer’s flutiness.
Nested cosiness, mutual tootiness! More…

Indebted to the centuries

Issue 3/2007 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Jouni Inkala’s Minuutin ja sen puolikkaan laajenevassa universumissa. Valitut runot 1992–2007 (‘In a minute and its half’s expanding universe’, WSOY, 2007)

Tail references

Mice don’t know that in the case of a human being
the death of a dear one may paralyse
a person’s capacity for years and years.

But in two things they’re more experienced than we.
They understand they’re in constant mortal danger.
That the trap is swift and silent.
That poison is a tear of awareness rising from the heart.

They also realise that in a cat’s claws they fly
like jackknives in the hands of a knife thrower.
And that when the audience finally gets round
to wakening up their hand~ in a rising storm of applause,
they won’t be distinguishable from the arena spotlights
or the ringmaster’s tails.

After their full term of service the mice pass out
from this time to the other side, and there see a miracle:
the sun’s heart beating six hundred times a minute.

                            In Helsinki, recalling
                            the Pinder Circus


An eye of the unseen

Issue 2/2007 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems and aphorisms by Aaro Hellaakoski. Introduction by Pertti Lassila


How tranquilly the evening’s darkening,
dusk deepening beneath the trees.
Consult the long alleyways of the skies
for the gift of this evening
and the cause of your ease.

But the waste! the pain and stress –
those reachings into secrets of the dark –
quarrying endlessness,
plummeting bottomlessness,
quizzing every question mark.

Why this rummaging into whence and why?
Empty let’s be. Open and free.
Let secrets come, or let them fly
away, diffuse like cloudscapes
or whisperings through a tree.

Eyes must glow as your spirits peer
through a wakeful cranny in where you are.
Only the silent have ears to hear.
When the doorstep feels the touch of a toe
only the vigilant’s door is ajar.

Huojuvat keulat (’Swaying prows’, 1945) More…

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. More…

The devil has no clothes

31 December 2006 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Idealrealisation (‘The ideal sale’, 1929)



I thought:
it was a person,
but it was her clothes
and I didn't know
that it doesn't matter
and that clothes can be very


Contemplating the cosmos

30 September 2006 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Valkoiseksi maalattu musta laatikko (‘A black box painted white’, WSOY, 2006). Introduction by Pertti Lassila

Good morning, murmuring universe,
dim tortuous thingamybob
with your moving and unmoving parts,
which every day need
new instructions for use
even though the previous ones
were not all that clear, because the article itself
is perpetually modifying its rules of behaviour.
There are threats that our details are being checked,
exhortations to be good, to wait,
wait and believe,
to stay outside at night
in abstract space
till the next numerical series. More…


30 June 2006 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Yhtä juhlaa (‘It’s all a big celebration’, WSOY, 2006)

(a square metre, 3.)

Now for the-kick-of-being-the-good-mum:
after the rye porridge
after the sons washed with camomile foam
and slipped into clean sheets
with mummy singing a sweet song.
Something about shadowed snow
and how at the blue twilit-moment one can
go inwards. If you’re up to looking. All that garbage and slag:
ash from the too-small days, clotted with
non-combustible blots, even though here
the sky’s clear
and the windows open to the winds.
Good grief, here we’re making new people.
But all I’d time for
was the track from the dishcloth to the nappy bin,
and back from the children’s painting-table
to the sink. No job
for spoilt girls, this: the prissiest minx
would soon turn woman in this fix:
kids coming next after next,
years of full-time labour
in a square metre where
you make no point about peccadilloes,
because so much is at stake.
You’re no longer a rose,
pimpinella, rosabella,
but subsoil: loam
and spots of unrottable compost.
A feebler person would have reversed on
the first tantrum;
the child’s learnt to say things
and is saying things
I never thought would come. More…

On becoming a forest

Issue 2/2006 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Extracts from Ei, siis kyllä (‘No. That’s to say, yes’, WSOY, 2006). Introduction by Anselm Hollo

Propaganda-as-prayer-wheel is a powerful weapon, because it is a
If there is nothing else to write about, it is always possible to write a
biography of Stalin, with all the spices.

A neat composition has always sufficed as good history, one according
to which an administration has done its best when it has elected itself.

Direct and indirect conclusions are impossible.
‘Legitimised historians explicate the nature of documents in a taciturn

Scholarship cannot be based on what Aristotle did not say.
What Aristotle did not say is not a fact.

It is useless. Silence alone is a helpful rhetorical figure. But I do not know
how to use it. Nor am I trying to learn.




Cycling through a rainbow

30 March 2006 | Fiction, poetry

From Läsning för vandrare (‘Reading for hikers‘, Schildts, 1974). Introduction by Maria Antas


The people I was fond of have been
     wiped from my memory.
Do you remember a friend, perhaps?
     Be glad, then, you are still alive.


The one who has owned a room in
     someone's heart
is easily reconciled with the thought
     of eventually
gaining a room in the earth's bosom.

Love is only a preparation. More…

Timeless time

30 December 2005 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Jumala saalistaa öisin eli Jobin kirjaan meidän on aina palaaminen. Osittain kursivoituja runoja (‘God hunts at night, or, we shall always return to the Book  of Job. Partly italicised poems’, Otava, 2005)

Greek delights

I eat Giorgios D. Haniotis'
                    small joys
     buried in powdered sugar,
vanilla, rose petal and strawberry,
           as if wooing his three daughters,
reading Angelos Sikelianos' poem
                         'A country wedding':

and it is a beautiful blue day, Sunday,

the strange charm of Greek letters: i kiriaki,
hazelnut kernels dipped in thyme honey,
white herb ashes from the roadside,
a cigarette taste deep as sin,
tobacco smoke the only haze one can stand looking at,
a little quarrelsome noise, bus station flu,
promises made by Turks,
the threadbare pile carpet of the entrance hall as a word of honor, More…

Travelling light

30 September 2005 | Fiction, poetry

Where roads reach through nights
into a fresh infant nightfall
with forest growing rooted to roots and stars,
and darkness canters along
on her black mare,
      canters along at a silent pace,
she combs her hair
on the starry comb
and then slips into eyes to sleep.

But here nights are nights
of rooms, mere darkness:
light a light, it’s no night,
put out the light, it’s night,
that’s all,
and not here alone but everywhere
that rooms are ranged in rows
in piles.
Houses sleep, breathe earth’s vastness
so that each of you, alone,
but neighbouring together,
will fill with stars.

From Vaeltanut (‘Travelled’), 1956 More…

Travelling alone

30 June 2005 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Ödemjuka belles lettres från en till en (‘Humble belles lettres from one to one’, Schildts, 2002)

Blind Alley Travel Bureau

We arrive on the last arrival.
Turn the lights out when you go, the airport staff ask.
To this place you and I must travel. It was the only departure
that was called. The only place there is, said the guide.
One’s vision is blocked by the view. We’ll find no somewhere else.

‘When I fall asleep, drive the last stretch by yourselves,’
says the driver.
A last summer family lift him into
their homeward-returning back seat. More…