Goodbye darling

30 March 2005 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Niin kovaa se tuuli löi (‘So bitterly the wind struck’, Tammi, 2004)

Lord, you've promised to come, don't hang back.
     Here we are already, sitting, me and the dogs,
   and the others that have to go.

Jesus, poor thing, didn't know whom to bloom for,
  just kept on lugging his cross, pretty as a pony.
    He came and shot us down,
   bullets flying without his even noticing.
      The night was gifted with roses
        full of love.
 Through a woman we came here, through a man
    we leave.


Where we are now

30 December 2004 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Taivaan mittakaava (‘The scale of the sky’, Otava, 2004)


Behind your back the city’s changing,

across the sky a crane’s swinging
ready-made components.

A tie splits the architect’s white shirt,
his paired limbs and individual organs,
two lanes, left and right.

You and I are precisely planned.
Even now we’re on a ruler’s edge. More…

The best thing

30 September 2004 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Valekuun reitti (‘The path of the false moon’, WSOY, 2004). Introduction by Herbert Lomas

At first light I put my hand
     in the hollow of a white willow –
once someone's cigarette box
had been left there –
     now a bird flew out
going seaward.
Touch of a wingquill on the back of my hand.
     It flew higher.
          In the evening
I felt its touch on my shoulder blade.


Daring to dream

30 June 2004 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Vaaksan päässä taivaasta (‘A span away from heaven’, Teos, 2004)

In the evenings they lit a candle on the cat’s grave
In the daytime they made a cosmological model
with a skipping rope
feet tapped the rhythm and its shadow
the rope slapped against the street
once in a while a rock flew
against a concrete wall
plunged from the oval galaxy’s edge
to the edge of space. More…

Bitter moments, luscious moments

Issue 1/2004 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Fänrik Ståls sägner (Tales of Ensign Stål, 1848–1860) and Dikter II (‘Poems II’. 1833), translated by Judy Moffett. Introductions by Pertti Lassila and Risto Ahti

Sven Duva

Sven Duva’s sire a sergeant was, had served his country long,
Saw action back in ‘88, and then was far from young.
Now poor and gray, he farmed his croft and got his living in,
And had about him children nine, and last of these came Sven.

Now if the old man did, himself have wits enough to share
With such a large and lively swarm – to this I cannot swear;
But plainly no attempt was made to stint the elder ones,
For scarce a crumb remained to give this lastborn of his sons. More…

Do you see?

30 March 2004 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Olen tyttö, ihanaa! (‘Wonderful, I’m a girl!’, Tammi, 2003)

I’m hanging from the Antonovka branch

I'm hanging from the Antonovka branch
                   upside down, my hair stretching upwards,
   I swing, the lawn sky
flies past, it's raining tree-trunks,
the fish bring Grandad in from the lake,
the cows have herded Grandma from the pasture,
the dough kneads the hand on the table-top.
The potatoes have lifted us from the earth,
         the fields plough me,
           the grass is creeping into Felix,
    bones gnaw at Fido, beneath the currant bushes
                            worms peck at the chickens.
The apple has bitten Eve,
  hunger devours me with each mouthful,
and death comes too,
  breathing the air from my lungs,
                                         then passes:
  I drop down to my palms
on to my feet


Nothing but light

30 December 2003 | Fiction, poetry

Prose poems from Huoneiden kirja (‘A book of rooms‘, Otava, 2003)

The ladies’ room

Behind the shining mirror twin girls are squealing, they disappeared inside the walls long ago. They had plaits, red pompons, bad moods – all of them moulded and twisted by wire coathangers from the very start. They gouged the house full of passageways, they hollowed out the paper walls with silver christening-spoons. They disappeared between the stairs on the staircase, saying: evil’s a gateway onto a void with hundreds of gateways inside. Now they’re in this room, behind this mirror. Now the sun’s rising over the firtree-tops, creeping step by step higher towards the overarching sky. Inside us there are two hundred girl-embryos, the girls shout, they’re handicrafts fashioned by themselves like us: out of pearls, blood, splinters of mirror, it’s these we were made of. If you don’t find us, you’ll not sleep a single night. Until you do you’ll wander about the house, astray with each memory, until your hands are thinner than your words, the days slenderer than your hands. More…

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.  More...

The oldest language

Issue 2/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Istun vastapäätä (‘I’m sitting across from’, WSOY, 2002). Introduction by Anselm Hollo

After the last lines spoken, snowflakes fall into the river.
You flow on out. Stop.
People keep going, as do the credits,
into the dark, out of sight.
You don’t remember the name of this street
but its back hunches up into a bridge across the fog.
From when on have we been terrified? The heart
wants to say something about that, to whomever
happens to cross its path, one’s own heart,
the beat that keeps on repeating itself.
An unpleasant warmth
on the seat that has just been abandoned. More…

Could you drop me a line?

Issue 1/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Kirjoittamaton (’Unwritten’, WSOY, 2002). Introduction by Jukka Koskelainen

[Chekhov visits a French prostitute]

The room brightly lit like a library that stays open at night.
From the threshold onward, a scent of freshly cut damp grass
and resin. In the curtain swim black goldfish, gasping for air
and the carpet glows, all too red, a red carpet to hell.
The girl sits on the edge of the bed, her face
as expectant as a stuffed nightingale, stares inscrutably
at the guest, until the ice age his presence has brought
begins to melt a little around the edges. Drop by drop,
dripping. He takes his coat off, his shirt
but keeps the pince-nez on his nose. ‘Because without it,
I won’t be able to see you at all.’ The candle
smokes, hisses, even, if you listen to it up close.
On the wall next to the bed the guest’s shadow melts
into the girl’s. Then two horns appear on top of her head
and her shadow bursts into shaky laughter. Then she stops,
takes his mocking fingers into both her hands, kisses them
lightly and says, ‘Let’s do it quickly, and then you’ll just hold me quietly,
so I can tell you about my greatest dream.’
‘What is it,’ he asks, his hair entangled in hers. Now
there’s another scent in the room, the acrid odor of rails
made more intense by a hot summer’s day, and the girl
whispers: “That my two sisters and I could leave here
and go back to Paris. Home to Paris. Oh, Paris!” More…

Family mysteries

Issue 1/2003 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Extracts from Einen keittiö, Eines kök (‘Eine’s kitchen’, Tammi, 2002). Introduction by Satu Koskimies

This sort of detached block of flats is as much of a living organism
as the folk dwelling in it.
For above are the brains and below are the intestines and outlets.

The upper floors were flaunting their kitchen taps, sink-tops,
lion-clawed sofas, mahogany chests and
sapphire-pendant crystal chandeliers, flashing the violet-tones of sea and
rain. More…

Practically public

Issue 4/2002 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Koko tarina (‘The whole story’, Tammi, 2002). Introduction by Anselm Hollo

Pan shot

A whitewashed wall, small windows

advent calendar peepholes at the end of darkness,
                               lit-up squares

One two three kitchens awake at 7
each tenant bends over a kettle of porridge
in the gurgling coffeemaker’s soundscape,
opens the refrigerator
see the hunter in action: let’s spear this yoghurt

and the building across the way testifies to all of this
practically public activity
the evening’s closure of curtains, turnings-off of the light,
nocturnal breastfeedings. Talking windows. A light comes on at: 2:54 AM
– what’s up now?
Is someone thinking about a bird she encountered at the cemetery? More…

Selling to the lowest bidder

Issue 3/2002 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Dessa underbara stränder, förbi glidande (‘These wonderful shores, gliding by’, Söderströms, 2001). Introduction by Claes Andersson

We don’t have our whole life ahead of us.
Talk about your experience.
About the sensual, about giddiness and falling, about the time
            you were out of your mind.
I bow down, I proceed by trial and error.
Wait. Time is short.
I begin with light, light that’s autumnal sky-high
When I painted I saw nothing but the light.
Within the light: the invisible creating that hallowed
            feeling under a tree.
Each tree holds the light in its arms like a
            child or a lover.
Birds ruffled with light, breeding inside
            the tree’s head.
The touch of light’s wind on the tree is like
            a caress on the skin.
Birds that are everywhere, no one ever catches sight of them
            but sees them all the time.


Time walks slowly

30 June 2002 | Fiction, poetry

When Eira Stenberg (born 1943) began writing in the heat of of Africa, her pen sank into the paper like a tattooing needle into the skin, she says. Her experiences there are alive in her book of poems entitled Siksi seurustelen varkaiden kanssa (‘That’s why I consort with thieves’, Tammi, 2002)

The journey

Wheels clattering, landscape speeding by the window to the past
notebook on lap she understood the journey’s essence,
that it’s a lap she lost in early childhood
when she stood up and set off walking
away from the arms that had carried her from room to room
giving views from on high as if from a mountain:
the apparitions of things, the furnishings, the tints of pictures
and the bedroom mirror they arrived in,
mother and a child, a holy image she met
again in churches and on altars everywhere
as if it were the purpose of the journey: More…

Words of feeling

31 March 2002 | Fiction, poetry

Poems from Vain tahallaan voi rakastaa (‘You can only love deliberately’, WSOY, 2001)

The musicians of Bremen (Self-portrait as a five animals)

People say man’s above all the other beasts.
I decided to prove that – and first turned poet
and then painfully became a flying horse, celebrating its freedom
on great shivering brawn. They captured me and put me to pulling
loads, and, seeing I endured everything docilely, they said,
He’s like the Giant Atlas, or Hanuman, the upholder of the world.
And they whipped me and sat on my back and finally
buried me alive. I became a pig and gorged my bellyful and my senses full
and it horrified people, who said: He’s a disease, an epidemic, Death itself.
And they cut my ears and blinded me and sliced my belly in two.
And I turned into a dog and learned everything I was taught and they said,
He’s completely without a will, like the angels, like an ascetic, and a prophet.
And they drove me out to wander the streets and the wildernesses. And in the desert
I turned into a tiger and people shouted in terror
What on earth
has God done – look, he’s Satan himself. And they shot me
from an elephant’s back. And I died into a cock and people woke up and shouted,
The healer of the world! And whenever I sing, because I only sing untold-to,
People wring my neck. More…