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The Island 1.

I.

Out where the ocean meets the land,
the land some dots spread in the sea,
remote and distant is the land
cut off from where it used to be –

The surging tides they push and pull,
raise and lower fishing boats
some near empty, some near full
with freshly caught, still-living loads

An island kingdom of its own –
the mainland just a distant shade
on the horizon’s ocean’s foam
where heat of day will make it fade

 

II.

Clusters of flowers on the dike,
boats are nearly out of sight,
calm and peaceful summer day
nothing getting in the sun’s way,
heat disturbs the mainland shade,
children in the ebb tide wade
out to gather mussel shells
while their mother impatient yells;
lunchtime’s rapid on approach,
but I; I am not in the mood –
stretched out on the dike I see
my homeland’s old scenery –
clusters of flowers on the dike,
boats are nearly out of sight,
mainland summits nearly gone,
I drift off but life goes on…

 

III.

a church bell tolls
on Sunday morning,
almost noon
the sun is warm,
a lone cloud circles
round its sphere
then passes on
elsewhere,
the bell tolls on
then silences,
nobody’s out
the heat alone
is quite enough
to keep them in their homes
till evening –
then they stream out
filling the bars
filling the restaurant
and the beach where
I sit and stare
out over the sea
in the shade of a tree,
a lone majesty
facing the sea

 

IV.

you carve the path
lone majesty,
you direct the currents
of the sea
alone in your
singularity
out here where no one
seemingly
challenges your
superiority –
you protrude from
the sea floor, bold,
you dignified
your head uphold –
but know this;
you’re on borrowed time,
the sea creeps in,
it counts your time –
when you erode
over the years
and dissipate
piece by piece
into the hungry sea –
who will recall the island when
the sea has called it home again?

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Insel des Einzelgänger 1.

Monologue: Where I Stand Now.

“I walk alone, remember not
a time when this was not my lot;
I walk alone, my melody
the roaring of surrounding sea;
I walk alone, my song is this,
be left alone my only wish.”

“I am a loner, this is true,
supported by the rain and dew,
by wind and sea, by summer rain
that makes me sprout with this year’s grain.”

“A voice, a voice in distance heard,
it says my name; speaks dreadful words;
but should I heed it’s message, take
for granted this prophecy I hear,
or hope that none of what I fear
shall ever cause me to awake?”

THE PROPHECY:
The day shall come when you whose ship
with arrogance parts currents now
shall either be deluged or be
just swept away; revenge of the sea –
slowly perhaps, or perhaps fast
you shall be gone; you cannot last.

She walked along the street, singing,
heard nobody else speaking and heeded nobody’s greetings:

“Such a weather as today,
such a day!
All I wish is to be swept away!

My native ocean
where are you now?
Where are the waves
where do you flow?
Where is my ship (if it still is)?
Carry me off
to the horizon
where I glimpse in the far-off distance

some summits I can’t recognize.

I shall explore and I shall find.

At least I’ll try and should the wind
Impertinent carry me off
away off course

way into distant unknown lands
then what?

As long as I’m alone as long as I am free

I shall not care what I shall get to see.

Where is my ship
– it’s silver keel,
it’s silky sails
full with the wind,
let’s go tomorrow is too late,

I feel a sense of haste
I know not why,
I have to go, I have to run, I am compelled –
I know not why.”

But still she waited, slowed her speed, stood still
awaiting someone who wasn’t coming –

“I want to travel, travel far away
today,
tomorrow is too late –
but not alone,”

awaiting answer she went quiet, but no answer came

“I want to travel, travel, travel
onwards, finding
new horizons
beyond the constraints of the map
but not alone?

I need someone, someone who will
accompany my search –
I cannot go alone then I might just
as well stay here –
oh, what’s the use – when no-one cares?”

“Loneliness is
an empty hand – another hand that slips
out of your grasp,
and disappears –

Loneliness is
the distance separating hearts,
the veil that covers scars
and silence in itself –

Loneliness is
the emptiness dispersing when
two hearts are in accord,
but comes to choke you when
nobody’s there to see you –

Loneliness is
not finding reason to cry,
since no one hears or cares –
and never crying means never to care –”

“As in the grass I rested on the dike,
I never felt alone, not for a second –
I was alone, but people near,
I heard their voices, knew their presence,
so I didn’t care I was alone.

I knew when I no longer wanted solitude
I had the option to go and join their games –
not having the option makes the difference,
that’s what makes you feel alone.”

“Back on my island, proudly in the sea
protruding, stretching up to meet the sun
defying waves and tide with constancy
(seemingly), there I never felt alone.
I was a part of all, and all a part of me –
the island and the sea and me a part of all,
the sky, the sea that joined at the horizon
was all the world, and I could hear the hum
of life in every movement around me –
and all was part of me, and I was part of all
and loneliness was not an option, not a thought
that I could think – I did not know of it,
for I was all and all was me –
and all I heard the sound of sea
of wind of seabirds; quite a symphony
was played for me each day, and I was free,
alive and whole; ALONE, but never lonely.”

“But here – this cold, unfeeling place
where nature cannot show its face
and no one cries and no one cares –
the rhythm is a curse, it’s not a cure –
and loneliness the symptom of disease,
you cannot be alone, but can be lonely
among these crowds of people – that’s the irony!
No, for companion give me clouds and sea –
and give me sky and sun and rustling grass,
and when I watch the fishing boats return
I shall forget that I’m alone, and then again
I’ll just be me, a part of all and all a part of me –
an entity in its own right, facing the sea –”

“Loneliness is the eyes that wander,
never meeting yours.
Loneliness the voice that staggers
to find footing
but is never heard.
Loneliness the sound of people passing
without stopping.
Loneliness is watching people live,
but not feeling alive yourself.

Lonely –
the condition forced upon you
by yourself,
by not living the way you wish (but
not knowing what it is you wish), and
therefore slowly corroding
your happiness, by living
a life without life – loneliness
is the symptom of a disease
which disappears the instant
you are actually ALONE.”

“I left my island, left behind
the place
how unwise –

now I’m left in a no-man’s-land
marooned in crowds –

I’ve been deluded, been deceived,
I thought myself free, but in reality
I haven’t been myself since leaving home,
I want my island…

(where’s my ship gone off to?)

but now I know that I cannot return alone,
the time has passed,
and I have changed beyond bounds –
I used to be at peace
but after meeting people I
have lost trace of
my starting point, my sails are hanging down
empty of the breeze that carried me here…

my island!
how I long for you!
but can you
accept it if I bring
somebody else to see you?

my island! part of me, and I a part of all…

can I accept
the necessity
of showing you off to an outsider’s eyes,
the disbelieving, disapproving gaze
of someone unacquainted with our vows?

and who would sail with me?
who’d risk the trip aboard my ship

(if I can find it)

other than myself? who would, and why?

I never should have left my island,
never should have boarded ship,
I never should have set my sails
at any other destination,
now I have become what I’ve become
and what I am, no longer me…

can I go home – I cannot go alone –
who will accompany me on the trip…?

with what intentions, what designs –
and what transpire then when we arrive…?”

“The prophecy came true, the one
I heard of spoken as a child –
strange rumors, that I for one
not used to heed, but now…”

The prophecy came true, I didn’t know
I’d met it till too late and I was stuck,
the prophecy – the unclear wording, metaphorically
has trapped me unknowingly, and I do not know now
how to escape – for who would follow me?
My self’s been whisked away and I cannot return alone,
nor find my ship unless someone should vow to
follow me –
I am marooned in other words –
I never shall be free.”

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Insel des Einzelgänger 2.

Inner Monologue: What I’d Have Liked to Say if I Could

 

I. Times Pass

Dreamy eyes, lost in the mist
of times, where did you go?
The moon is out, it’s time to dream
but something stopped the flow
of dreams, it dried out long ago.

Will it recover over time
and re-open the submerged gates
to make the waters flow
downstream to unearthly dwellings
where they used to go?

 

II. Pantanal

Pantanal –
so like my physical being,
a place where giant waterlily leaves
rise from the depths
to protect the hidden secrets
of the waters
and if you wish to know the truth
you must look deeper, look beyond
the visible self
and reach the watersource
far far away
in the mountains
where the dreams
can finally
reach into the clouds
and turn to rain
like the tears
of a being long lost
in the mist

 

III. Upstream

Now I float towards
the end of the line
of goals reached or lost
when I abandoned the flow
to swim upstream
looking for answers
to unspoken words,
for words to heal
what silence hurt
long ago
when I was composed
of nothing but mind

 

V. Hunger

I am hungry for this feeling
projected from your hands,
will you quench my thirst
with the waters in your heart –
I am addicted
to the never-ending search
for something indescribable
which I feel
in the vibe
of electricity from your eyes –
you, strange being
with questions fully unfurled
how did you manage to
enter my world?

 

VI. Sanctuary

a place for me
to rejuvenate my energy
when the load is heavy
and the world seems inane –
I find a sanctuary
from all the dreary
hidden underneath your skin
and in your healing hands
when the sands of time
grind to a halt
and all I hear
comes from within your breast;
the sound of a lonely bird
looking for its nest

 

VII. The Hidden

sometimes in dreams
I follow the stream
of your inner river
searching for its source
but I fear maybe it’s hidden
in the clouds
just like your head
where I can never reach
and thus your secrets remain
hidden to me in your
veil of shadows
and starry eyes
and yet I keep searching
for the hidden source
that you will never let me find
eventually blinded by despair
over this restless search
leading nowhere

 

VIII. In the Lee of Dreams

softly resting
in the lee of dreams
where nothing can reach
except for a thought
invisible, wrapped up
in metaphors
of beautiful things
you think you want
but truly on your mind
in the lee of dreams
you can only think
of following the stream
that leads
to a closed heart

 

IX. Dimensions

I want to rest
my hand on your chest
to sink into the dimension
where dreams seem more real
than reality
while darkness swallows
our fragile forms
and we vanish
like dew in the sun,
forgotten in bliss
on the wings of
semi-conscious sleep

 

X. Non-being

wordless
invisible and secret
urges
fill the void
of nothingness
where worlds meet
and the thin screen
of impossible dreams
is ripped apart

there is a sense
of yielding strength
in your non-being
existence

 

XI. Emerge

darkness descends
upon a soul
filled with secrets untold
retracting whenever
disturbed,
swimming to safer waters

unheard
unseen
like a creature from a dream
you emerge
from your darkness
in your search
for the lightness of being
you so greatly miss

 

XII. Blue Screens

the flame
succumbs
to the dewdrops
and a veil of mist
a smokescreen
hiding the mind
will separate
you from me
till our eyes are freed
and we can see again
just long enough
to realize
our disguise
of desires
projected
on blue screens
when the world dreams

 

XIII. Yonder

when did you
see the wonder
in the hidden
yonder
the broken
the infinite borderline
where bells can’t ring
and birds don’t sing
when the rain
falls on the soul
and the secrets
of the boldest mind
will come to light –
a lightning storm
will sweep across the empty room
of eternity –
infinity broken
open
the doors to the unseen
the unknown
in-between realities
shatter like glass
when you lift your voice
in praise
in silence

 

XIV. Ivory

“In the mirror she sees a face;
ivory carved to a perfect shape,
twin pools of swirling water
translucent, bottomless pits of melancholic
wisdom from a time long forgotten

On the heart imprinted a mark
in contrast to the exterior stark,
it clouds her eyes when waves rise
and the ivory sculpture melts
to reveal the broken dam beneath her shell

You, fragile dualistic goddess of melancholy;
stonefaced, hidden in your cloak of irony,
there’s so much hidden in your eyes
pointed down though upwards you strive
in your glittering icicle disguise.”

 

XV. Evasive

Oh, you evaded me
mysterious dream;
you lured me with your silent chant
of what might be,
but you deluded me
led me to believe
that the dream was real
and reality a dream,
and when the dream evaporated
and evaded me,
reality stunned me
and caught me with its solitude;
why did you leave me,
how could you disappear
like a black cat in the darkness –
your illusions have vanished,
are invisible to my eyes –
in your failed attempt at setting me free
you left me wounded and powerless,
dodging your shadow

 

XVI. Conclusion

“What does it matter now?
The past is fixed, it cannot be perfected anyhow.
I’m heading home through winter storms
and spring rain and the summer’s heat
and autumn’s steadily falling leaves –
whichever way I want it there’s just that one way to go;
my island is at hand and yet it’s never within reach –
I’m standing at the mainland shore and spying for my native beach,
it’s waiting for me out there, this I know;
but how to get there – how to get there after all this time?
And even if I got there I am no longer the same.
What does it matter? Nothing matters now –
before the sea that separates us we’re all bound to bow.”

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THE ISLAND 2.

I.

They come and go, the waves,
they rush to and fro –
along the coast there’s caves,
some hidden underwater,
some high up on the rock –
accessible to climbers or to divers,
very few accessible to all,
the island and the sea alike at one thing;
protecting secrets; at this they’re excelling!

 

II.

Deep down there, underneath the sea
linked together, out of reach
and therefore safe from our tendency
to destruction (to a certain degree) –
the links that tie together everything,
the continents, the islands, pillars in the sea
arising from the seafloor –
pinnacles arise majestically,
taller than the eye could see
(if they could see),
columns of rock, cascades of water
exploding at the surface level
in a million rainbow-sparking droplets,
amidst cries of seabirds and the sound
of surfs, of flapping wings, of life –
But deep down there, down in the deep
where our eyes can’t see
are linked together everything,
vast plains that rest in darkness in the deep,
vast stretches, deep ravines, mountainous isles –
a landscape unknown to the surface dwellers
who are therefore bound to see distinctions,
separation, and destruction in the sea,
and not this pure, encapsulated safety,
resting as it does, rocked back and forth
just like a child who’s being lulled to sleep,
between the continents who hold it tightly
in their arms and slowly sway it to the tune
of night-time’s serenading moon –

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THE ISLAND 3.

The archipelago, dazed in the sun,
glazed with the colours of the plants,
steam rising from the heated ground,
the shoals around the islands turquoise,
dark-blue, green, in places can be seen
the seafloor vividly,
the glossy surface of the sea
that ripples softly in still air
is stirred and blur the image slightly here and there –
when standing on one island all the others seem so far,
when seen from the air they all seem so close,
when seen from the seafloor they’re all the same;
small mountains rising out of the conundrum
of the plains of sand and seaweed that remain
the final undiscovered place,
unseen, unheard, undreamt of from the islands
where we stand observing, and in dives
can only plough to some degree, and still
can’t fathom in its vast entirety –
why worry? know it’s there – know it supports
the water that is held in place to hide
from our disbelieving eyes the world
down there – a secret yet, a mystery –
to all but those who sense it in themselves.

The islands, small land-masses kept apart,
by an illusions that they’ve learned to fear –
the islands, one continuous mass of land,
part covered and part visible; the sea
the glorious, providential veil, the mist
that clouds our eyes, our minds and makes us wish
for something that we are – already are –
before we’re let to realize we are –

a part of all and all a part of us.

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Epilogue

After having attempted to write this collection several times and failed, writing an epilogue that should even remotely be able to detail the struggles I went through during the process of creation seems an insurmountable task.
I guess it suffices that you know the most basic facts about the collection. It is really not one collection; it is two. It is the distilled and purified essence of two poetry collections, carrying the name of the second. I incorporated my first poetry collection (“Whirlpool” from 2010) into “Insel des Einzelgänger” about half a year after writing the latter. I partly did so because I felt the collections were too short and didn’t stand well alone, and I partly did it because I felt that the two collections also dealt with the same theme – just in different ways. Therefore I decided to place the best poems from “Whirlpool” as a flashback in the middle of the present collection, since that is basically what they are in any case.

Concerning “Whirlpool”.

The poems I originally included in my “first” poetry collection “Whirlpool”, were written almost exclusively in late October 2010, and reflect the changes my life was undergoing at this time. I was 19, and due to be evicted from my apartment on the 1st of November. I wrote 15 of these poems (as well as the majority of the left-out ones) in the week leading up to this.
As you have undoubtedly noticed as you read the poems, I looked deeply inwards at the time – and most of the poems are indeed very personal. But I never kept them to myself – I literally threw them into the public realm from day one – possibly because I didn’t have any other achievements to boast of at the time, and possibly because they’re an important testimony to my state of mind at the time without actually revealing anything about my outward circumstances (which meant that showing these poems to my friends and family members was the only way I had of being honest with them, seeing as I felt that I had to keep everything else concerning my life at the time a secret).
I compiled the first version of the collection almost immediately (under the name “Whirlpool of this Soul” which was later changed to simply “Whirlpool” in the second edition because I removed the title poem and the title therefore didn’t make sense anymore). It lasted in this edition for about a year. Then I took out half of the poems because my increased experience told me that they were juvenile and unfit. Then it stayed that way for a short while until I published it in its third and (so I thought) final version on the internet in January 2013. However, then I wrote “Insel des Einzelgänger”… and the rest is history.
You are, as you already know, sitting with the result of the combination of these two collections.

Concerning the present version of “Insel des Einzelgänger”.

After combining the collections and thereby expanding the scope of the present version, it is clear to me that it could not have been presented in a better way. Something was lacking from “Insel des Einzelgänger”, and “Whirlpool” was juvenile and unfinished standing on its own. Neither was any good on their own in fact. Much like people when it comes to it – we also function better together than apart in most cases. It turns out that poetry sometimes works in exactly the same way.
All jokes aside, this simply goes to prove that writing and completing a poetry collection of any worth takes a considerable amount of time and energy – and thought – and testing. Keep that in mind if you ever plan on writing your own.

At last my work here is done, and that is something of a relief. It has taken over three years, and I am happy to finally see the end result. Now I can move on at long last – one thing has been taken off my mind. A couple of hundred to go – never mind, I’ll get to those in due time.

K-M Skalkenæs, 2. September 2013.