eye of iron


It’s Finnish – I have no frame of reference at all to know whether the translation is accurate or reflective of the writer’s intent. Nice imagery anyway.

Eeva-Liisa Manner
Here the day always fades,
always there is the sheen of snow
even in summer. The earth’s heart doesn’t melt.
And the unknown lake watches like an eye of iron.

Aina täällä päivä hiipuu, aina on lumen kajoa,
kesälläkin. Maan sydän ei sula.
Ja tiedoton järvi katsoo kuin raudan silmä.

‘where should i warm my hands’


The Worlds
Pentti Saarikoski
the worlds rose
out of the abyss
moved through me          broke
i sat on a blue stool
thus wasn’t walking         yet moved
farther and farther
approached a
comprehension of words until
i turned
no longer cared for them
and now i’m heavy with boredom               games
no longer interest me
children are mean         in all yards
words meaningless        in all yards
where should i take
my fear       disgust         my petrified words
where should i warm my hands
over what fire                 tell me
where do the songs go
no one sings
any more?

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

fata morgana


Annukka Peura
When the man is fata morgana
and I, a fatalist
What could a poor sailor
name a ship:
‘Reality that won’t happen’?!

in flight


Pentti Saarikoski
In mid-flight, the bird froze, in mid-air:
then, almost immediately, it flapped on,
but I didn’t trust it any more.

Photo by Alex Wigan on Unsplash

“where shall we put our hope?”


The cyclical nature of perception and improbable rehabilitation of historical figures (take a look at the youth of Russia venerating and admiring Stalin) makes me take a look at this poem by Finn Pentti Saarikoski. He writes ironically: “Marx’s mistake is Lenin/as Stalin is Lenin’s mistake/but Stalin didn’t make mistakes.” Today, it is just as likely that a young person with no tangible connection to history would read this and think, “Yes, of course. Stalin was a great leader.” (By the way, read Svetlana Alexievich‘s Secondhand Time: An Oral History of the Fall of the Soviet Union for more insight.)

from The Dance Floor on the Mountain
Pentti Saarikoski
XXIV Winter solstice
And the bees cling to each other
in the hive center
where Jesus is born a honey-scented child

The sun is setting
a scarlet winterball like a fatbellied man
our neighbor, the carpenter
will be rolling into bed

On the first day of year
I place two white porcelain jugs spout to spout
after thinking all night long
about Marx’s mistake

Marx’s mistake is Lenin
as Stalin is Lenin’s mistake
but Stalin didn’t make mistakes.

I construct a snowman
a sad fascist in the yard
so some image of this winter will remain
our neighbor the carpenter
bends his knee and takes a snap

A heavy snowfall
should mean a rich harvest

I’ll build
a cold church for the fascist
a warm one for Jesus

When with summer’s first ill-natured wind
the guests gone
we come down the mountain
with no protection but each other’s limbs
where shall we put our hope?

XXVI On St Stephen’s Day
I sit in their kitchen
drink some beer and listen to language
that’s their affair, their memories
and I scare: I say something
but it clatters
from mouth to floor like a horseshoe.



From If/Jos
-Eeva-Liisa Manner (Finland)

If it’s true that when I go
I needn’t go alone,
that you’ll come too, riding on your horse beside me,
its coat shining earth in the moonlight
(half-earth itself, half-wind)

if it’s true what you promised, if
you’ll ride to the gate – it’s a gate of mist
(the gale’s dropped, the grass isn’t bending) –

I want to go now,
I want you now.

Jos on totta, että kun lähden
minun ei tarvitse lähteä yksin,
että tulet mukaan, ajat toista hevosta,
sitä jonka karva kiiltää kuun valossa maan värinen
(itsekin puoleksi maata, tuulta puolet)

jos on totta mitä lupasit, jos
ajat veräjälle: se on sumua
(ruoho ei taivu, tuulen pyörre ei palaa)

tahdon lähteä heti.
Tahdon sinut heti.

poetry excerpt – caj westerberg


For all those times when you wonder if maybe someone is not quite what they seem. A snake, perhaps?

from Dear and Going Cheap
Caj Westerberg (Finland)

“…she wondered if
she could ask me
to mow the lawn.
And I’m a person who
loves tall grass.
As snakes do.”