like bread


Pentti Saarikoski
Life was given to man for him to consider
in which position he wants to be dead,
grey skies float by, star-meadows hang
and the earth comes into your mouth like bread


Elämä on ihmiselle annettu, jotta hän tarkoin harkitsisi,
missä asennossa tahtoo olla kuollut,
harmaita taivaita kulkee yli, tähtitarhoja riippuu
ja maa tulee suuhun kuin leipä.

Photo by Kym on Unsplash



Pentti Saarikoski

I love you
like a strange country
the big rocks and a bridge
like a lonely evening that smells of books
I walk toward you in the world
below the atmosphere
from the space between two lights
my thought which is carved and out of you

minä rakastan sinua
niinkuin vierasta maata
kallioita ja siltaa
niinkuin yksinäistä iltaa joka tuoksuu kirjoilta
minä kävelen sinua kohti maailmassa
ilmakehien alla
kahden valon välistä
minun ajatukseni joka on veistetty ja sinua
Photo by adrian on Unsplash

‘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

“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.