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Catalyst

What is the greatest source of inspiration?
What can really make you contemplate
and urge you forward to complete something?

Well, if you’re happy and content
you might never see the point
of changing anything,
right?

You cannot know the light
if that is all you’ve ever seen –
you will not understand it
or appreciate it’s there
until you have lived through a night –

  And what a night. I don’t plan to moralize, but I do plan to speak my mind. I lived through a night like I hope you’ll never have to. And you probably won’t have to. Most people don’t. I was just the one out of thousands who drew the shortest straw. And then I was stuck in a nightmare that lasted 25 years. A long, drawn-out sleep that left me with nothing in store and everything to rebuild.

  But I did have one thing through that time. One thing that carried and supported me. And that was poetry. If I had lived a happy life, I don’t think I’d ever have started to write. I don’t think I would’ve seen the point, since I would’ve lacked nothing.

  As it was, I lacked – not only material things – I lacked a voice and words to express my thoughts. I lacked expression. And humans are social beings. We have an innate need for words and speech, but I had no words and weren’t heard when I tried to speak. So I wrote. Everything I couldn’t say out loud I wrote – poem after poem, essay after essay – and found a voice along the way that seeped out into my everyday existence and coloured what I’d do and say.

  It’s been an amazing journey, but if I’d never had problems, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to move along the way – I’d probably just have wanted to stay where I was at the beginning. Don’t fix what isn’t broken, right?

  I have no regrets – I chose a path that advanced me, however slowly, towards an understanding of my abilities, and what I truly wanted at heart. It just so happens, that at the end of the road, what I wanted was to continue writing, since I had not yet nearly told everything I had to tell. And since I had come to be able to write fairly well, there seemed to be no reason to stop at all.

What is this stupid construct
the world calls happiness?
A soothing balm
to keep you in your place.

I’d rather feel the pain,
the sadness and the cold
the world too has to offer
instead of growing old
to see that I learned nothing
because I was content –
who on this Earth would truly
want that to be their end?

  Whenever I was at my lowest, no matter the circumstances, I always felt the urge to write. Mostly because no other solution was in sight. But that was what kept me going, and it was a sure and reliable guide to have at hand throughout that long and lonely night that was the uncertain stumbling steps I took towards the light.

  And the worse I felt, the better I wrote. Paradoxically. That’s how it goes.

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Teacher Totally Disenchanted

The more I know,
the less you seem to know.

I used to think you knew everything.
Now I know that you know a few things.
And fake a good many.

Now I know that I could teach you.
Yet I shouldn’t brag – since after all
you were the one who taught me
the foundations which I took off
and overtook you from –

I could’ve kept respecting you
perhaps indefinitely
if you didn’t so insistently
keep claiming to know more than you know
now that I know you do.

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The Prospect of Ageing

Time heals,
time mends,
time lets you
comprehend…

That grey hair
wasn’t there
yesterday!

Don’t fight
with nature,
you are it;
ever sure –

Indestructible,
unbreakable –
intertwined with nature
you will endure…

But that wrinkle –
too early…
Isn’t fair!

But YOU, you can relax;
you are not me,
so I am free
to tell you all is well –

I say to you;
embrace the cycles
nature binds us to –

And just ignore me
quietly
dyeing my hair
over here –

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Spring Burst Forth

The Spring announced itself today –
the 3rd of April –
with a flash of light
and an angry roar
it washed the winter off the ground
as it were –

And underneath the winter
suddenly the flowers, tough,
exploded from their hides
announcing: “We have had enough!”,
with birds in happy chorus chanting with them:
“Finally! Now we may live again!”

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Thoughts. Slipping.

Early.
Spring.
Fog.
Walking.
Sad.
Tired.
Drops.
Dripping.
Cold.
Thinking.
’bout what?
No knowing.

Tired.
Foggy.
Silhouettes.
Fading.
Distant.
Laughter.
What for?
No knowing.

Isolation.
Distant.
Yearning.
Mind.
Working.
Tired.
Still.
Thinking.
Changing.
Life.
Weather.
Season.
Planning.
What for?
No knowing.

Too early.
Thoughts.
Slipping.

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Evening Dew

A trembling tune of blended birdsong
in the wood at nightfall –
the setting sun, the rising mist,
the thoughts of what today’s been done –

Your graceful poise out on the porch
as you observe the fading beams of day –
it must’ve been the evening dew
that stained your cheeks – and then you’d say;

“the world is changing all too fast, and so is I,”
and turned your saddened amber eyes to me –
but I will not believe that tears could be
the substance trickling down the face of you;

the foremost of this world’s now-living men?
It cannot be – it was the evening dew.

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On Drawing K In the Shower

A monumental quality
as such there shouldn’t be
in a thing as transient
as the human body.

And yet there is a sort
of perpetual strength in
the look of your muscles
and sinews tightening.

As if you were a cliff
squaring up to meet the sea;
enduring and majestic
in its rigidity.

Yet as that cliff you are
still vulnerable too –
these years that pass away
are also marking you.

So here I am at work
attempting to preserve
through graphite, yet again,
every sinew, every nerve.

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The Broken Bond

They flicker in the moonlight,
two flames that steady burn –
the tides shifting and changing,
the wind blowing astern –
he’s one of those few people
who shift but ever burn –
and outshines all the others,
but never ever learn –
keep burning, flames, keep burning
the broken bonds out-burn –
what’s lost can’t be retrieved,
so leave it past, outworn –

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The Possible Connection

I am rumored to be a rather cynical person. In some ways it’s true. But when it comes to the internet, and its powers to connect people and share knowledge on a scale that is unsurpassed – I was all starry-eyed ideals to begin with.

I remember writing those first few lines of HTML code that is the foundation of a website, and looking at the result, heart pounding in my chest, as I realized that I had just published something that anybody, anywhere in the world could access – so long as they were connected to the network. It was a moment of pure joy; hope and the vision of a bright future where the world was interconnected in ways we used to only dream of. It looked like a dream that was about to become true, and I so badly wanted to be a part of it.

Continue reading The Possible Connection

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Herald of Destruction

I carry bricks and tile with me in my pockets whenever I go to the city. At least it seems so. Every time I return to my hometown I find an old house torn down – every time I go to the city I find a new one erected.
It feels oddly like a curse – as if I draw life with me, and subsequently cause decay in my home whenever I go somewhere else. And it is perhaps an apt metaphor. I do work in the city. I do live there. I do spend my money there and pay my taxes there, even though the city is an ungrateful host that cares nothing for me whereas my hometown would have known to appreciate my effort. It’s just that… I can’t find work in my hometown. Or on the entire island for the matter. The further you get from the city, the less need there is for programmers – and it’s impossible to make a living based on writing, however much I would have liked to.

Continue reading Herald of Destruction

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A Woman’s Story

The stomach got in our way, so to speak. This grotesque inflation. I couldn’t look at it. I felt my own stomach twist and turn. I couldn’t look at it.
She hugged me tightly as if nothing had happened and chirped happily.
“Oh, it’s been so long since I’ve seen you. What have you been up to? I haven’t seen you since graduation. Where are you living now? Oh, you must come and visit me one of these days now you’re in town anyway – do come! I haven’t seen you since… Oh, we have so much to talk about!”

Continue reading A Woman’s Story

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Når jeg lukker øjnene

Når jeg lukker øjnene ser jeg
bølgerne rejse sig;
sivende der sukkende bøjer sig;
det flakkende lys fra mit
hjemlands vægelsindede sol –
nej, lyset fra fakler
båret gennem byen –
byen er skrumpet;
en opløst sukkerknald –
husene står uvirkeligt skæve
og små
med tomme, måbende ruder –
biler suser forbi langt borte
fra den døsige stilhed her;

et ur omkranset af vildvin
med en viser der evigt viser
12:19;
mosset har indtaget gulvet,
en fugl suser kvidrende
ud ad en smadret rude;
dernæst
stilhed.

Hele mit liv
var larm –
summen af menneskestemmer,
summen af liv;
baggrundsstøj –
livets enerverende underlægningsmusik,
men når jeg lukker øjnene ser jeg
stilhedens rige
der er fremtiden;
min ensomme fakkel
kaster enorme skygger
på nutidens afskallede eftermæle –
der er vand på gulvet,
en fisk strejfer min ankel
i et kort glimt af sølv
i faklens lunefulde skær –
hvis jeg åbner øjnene
kan jeg sammenligne med nutiden,
men også høre den summen
fra det store menneske-bo
jeg er midt i –
hellere holde dem lukkede
for så ser jeg
at der ikke er nogen grund til snak
siden al snak skal forstumme
og stilheden råde
med undtagelse
af de dovne dråber der falder fra spær,
vinden der bøjer sivene;
jordens åndedræt –
jeg ser jordens døsige eksistens
der ikke behøver os,
der når som helst kan sparke os af sig
hvis vi forstyrrer dens grublen –
når jeg lukker øjnene
går uret i stå
i den fremtid hvor ingen levende væsner
behøver “tid”,
behøver sprog –
den fremtid
der slutter en dag
kl. 12:19 –
hver gang jeg lukker øjnene
er den allerede
sluttet…

Faklen syder da den rammer vandet;
mørke.

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Foranderlige fjord

Jeg står i vand til over hovedet –
men det er der ikke længere
(vandet) –
omkring mig breder sig en flade
af grønt, bølgende
græs –
der er ingen kontrast
til det bølgende vand –
kun diget adskiller –
jeg står på dette kunstige højdedrag,
landets højeste punkt,
og ser den bølgende grønne
og ser den bølgende blå
flade –
én til hvert øje…
Hvis jeg stiger ned kan jeg stå
hvor fjorden var –
stå i vand til over hovedet,
i vand som ikke længere
er vand –
det vand der VAR;
det fordrevne vand –
men kniber man øjnene sammen
ser græsset ud som bølger.

Øen er et skib
der hugger i bølgerne –
bølgerne skyller ind over dækket
nu og da,
nu som før –

Diget frarøvede havet
en stump af landet –
men landet er aldrig holdt op med
at bølge…
Horisonten er lige langt borte
til begge sider –
lige flad
og fjern –
kun solen flytter sig,
men der er intet til at kaste skygger.

Lavland,
Havland,
midlertidigt land
der vugger
sig selv
i søvn.

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Vinden der blæser

En magnetisk kraft skubber mig væk –
jeg rækker frem men jeg kan aldrig nå –
en vind blæser mig bagud;
det er den
som alle mennesker holdes nede ad –
småting, jordting, tidsbegrænsning,
med værdi de ikke har –

Hvad nytter det at svømme mod strømmen?
Det tapper dig for kraft
og bringer dig
ingen vegne?

Men polerne vender af sig selv
før eller siden.

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Old, Torn Lace

Old, torn lace
hanging draped
over a sunkissed face.

We’re old as a species
though the planet thinks us young.

Paint that scales
off house facades –
crackled pavements
worn by decades.

Weathered, wooden fences –
weathered, broken tiles.
Weathered, petrified
concrete – stretching miles.

Stiff, unbending people.
Feet that keep on coming.
Weathered fossils clinging –
wanting to stay young.

Green sprouts are tearing
at concrete coffin-spaces
leaving old, torn lace
meshes in their places.

We’re old as a species
though the planet thinks us young
and sooner than both know
we shall have been and gone.

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Lace

SPRING:
The buds that unfold and grow,
the dew that resumes at night,
droplets in beams of light,
dispersing remnants of snow.

SUMMER:
The skin on the back of your hand,
the sunshine through the trees,
the veins that pattern leaves,
footprints in the sand.

AUTUMN:
The wrinkes around your eye,
the dispersing remnants of mist,
the creepers that turn and twist,
cotton wool in the sky.

WINTER:
The dust in a beam of light,
the hoar frost on the leaves,
icicles hanging from trees,
your breath in a winter night.

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Ode to My Elementary School

A pile of rubble, bricks and timber
scattered on a plain.
Some cluttered lines of trees alone
is what remain.

And weeds are sprouting through the waste
uncaring and unkind.
But then again – how could they care –
does anybody care what’s left behind?

A corner of a mural flecked with dust;
the first I ever painted – gone to waste.
The wall whereon it hang has been knocked down,
the past has been erased.

And not a sound is heard in this new wasteland
where I was taught to write.
It now lives only in the writings
that I dedicate to it.

There are so many memories tied to this place.
Both good and bad – all gone.
All gone and nature’s coming to reclaim –
all must pass on.

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Change and Perpetuality

I stand at the shore where the sea once was
and I know not that that’s how it is.
I’ve looked at the oaks my entire life;
they were here before me and they will remain.
I stand at the shore where the sea is now
and I know not that it’s ever changed.
..

A second of sunlight that warms my face;
a moment prolonged by memory.
An endless amount of sorrow and tears
and yet that second is longer to me.
..

I walked in the forest, I tasted the dew,
I looked in the air where the sun used to shine.
I walked to the creek and I waited for you
but no one was there except willows and vine.
I stretched out a hand to pick flowers anew
but time made them wither and waste in my hand.
I walked home alone like we all seem to do;
my life’s years diminish like grains of sand.

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Child of the Unraveling

To a long lost friend

My personal anachronism
you – I’ll never understand.
Your jumping, floating timeline
seems completely out of hand

Your looks tell me clearly
That just like me you are
a child of the Unraveling
who bears the same scars

A tiny little glass full
of wisdom that you shouldn’t have –
you are a mystery
that I will always fail to grasp

A flick of irony your eyes
will shoot at me from time to time
– and then I wonder instinctively
how you can seem to read my mind

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The Presence

You’re present here beside me
you speak within my dream,
you stir around me in the air
like vapour in the steam

Your voice I’ve known forever
as much as I recall,
and though I do not want you
you stay here after all

You aren’t in the mirror –
you haven’t been for years –
nobody else can see you,
you’re in my hopes and fears

You’re present here beside me –
faint child of memory –
you stir around me in the air
you are – yet aren’t – me

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The Wasteland Where the Slaughterhouse Was

Overgrown with weeds, squeezed into place
between apartment blocks –
irregular in shape, a vast expanse of
emptiness and plants –
a little jungle in the middle of the city,
framed by makeshift fences
meant to keep intruders out (the reason’s not extant
since there is nothing there to be intruded on) –
unseen, kept hidden in the shadow of three high-rises
(as if they were put up on purpose
just to keep it secret –
to shield it from potential eyes of tourists
at the station),
untouched except by garbage thrown across the fence,
forgotten and dismissed from life;
a wasteland is the fate
that’s due to real estate left bare
for 15 years without a buyer –
the widow of the slaughterhouse
awaits her second spring
(but that it should occur now seems a doubtful thing)

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Fragile Dawn

Fragile Dawn – I barely see you
as you shimmer through an eyelid
halfway gone before you’re here,
halfway gone while you are here –
You bring promises with you
that, forgotten, fade with you
in the bittersweet gradient
of morning sky and clouds –
A barely registered pulse
of colour and of sounds
that goes unnoticed by and large
and passes at a glance.

A single bike whirrs by beneath my window
with the buzzing of a fly.
A factory chimney across the bay
spews rosy haze.
The sound of rustling leaves,
suddenly turned up high,
reaches me as you set the world ablaze.

Your beauty lies in this
ability you have perfected;
to make things beautiful
that normally
go undetected.

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The Thunderstorm’s Approach

The pressure in the air is full of birdsong.
The heat declares its presence everywhere.

The faintest smell of apple blossoms and of grass
comes greeting through the window on the swell.

The cooling breeze comes to caress my hair,
to lighten up the air and tensions ease.

We’re waiting for the thunderstorm’s approach;
it let’s us wait – uncaring for reproach.

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Autumn

A brown leaf frees itself from a tree
and dances through the autumn air,
rejoices in feeling profusely free
until the wind rests it on my hair

I stand in a park full of autumn shades
watching the leaves and chestnuts fall
as the colourful surroundings fade
I reach out my hand to catch it all

When I was a child, at autumn time
I used to collect the fallen chestnuts,
figures thereof was a great pastime
but today they’re left on the ground to rot

My hands outstretched I greet the breeze
and all it carries and brings to me
down from the tall, soon-naked trees
and out of my fading memory

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Spring Coronet II

The light has faded over our days of victory
and in my hands I hold the only remnant left to see:
My well-beloved, faded Spring-coronet
wrought with loving hands by someone dear,
and placed on my head with a joy so sheer
on the day we danced. Oh, sweet flowerets!

My hands grasp it tightly, then suddenly let go
and watch as the coronet above the world flows,
then I lay myself down in the grass
and breathe a breath of pain, then of relief,
at last relieved of hope, fear, happiness and grief,
and in the church they light the candles for the
midnight mass.

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A Poet’s Plight

After a prolonged dry spell
I fetch my bucket and descend
towards the now overflowing well
under the moon’s pale floating crescent

The drought was long and hard this time
but finally ebb turned to flood
and all around me droplets shine
re-illuminating a flow I near forgot

A word I fish up from the well
one word, two words, a full-grown phrase
till finally I’m unable to tell
whether mine or whether gifted grace

The flow returns with seeming ease
and now I almost forget it was gone
now words and phrases to stanzas flee
and I’m breathless holding a newborn poem

It’s dripping wet with the water drawn
as I carry it home in trembling hands
to feel the release of writing it down
and celebrate it with songs and dance

As the wet season takes hold again
I soon fall back in my old routine
re-united with my friend: The pen
spewing poems like a sowing machine

The rain keeps falling outside my door
like the droplets of ink from my trusty pen
as I proceed to write and to store
preparing myself for next dry season

The flow runs through my fingers now
and drips out on the paper sheet
I replenish my energy in this flow
as my newborn babies I tearfully greet

I know I am writing on borrowed time
and any moment the drought can return
but this pleasant moment is all mine
till I rest my pen, my fingers worn

As long as the rain falls I will write
and make a stock in preparation
for the next dry spell, and in spite
of my life-force’s growing exhaustion

When the book is filled I can rest again
– the well will have run dry anyway –
re-read my production and be content –
when the rain starts again, I cannot say

I will wait, first refreshed, then with unease
for the next wet season to bring me to life
I will edit the written, and try to cease
all thought-activity of my strife

From season to season on I strive
shifting between joy and despair –
when I write all is good – when I can’t it’s a fight –
against forward-facing hope and fear

This story of how the seasons turn
is the truth about a poet’s production
between dearth under a scorching sun
and the sweet release of creative emission

The wet season near the filling well
is life in its bare quintessence
from here springs countless stories to tell
amidst this free, life-giving substance

But during drought the story is other
and every day is for life a fight
where emptiness threatens to totally smother
the sources; this is our hidden plight

Sometimes you give in to despair
and fear the drought will never end
and these strong fears will at you tear
beyond what you can comprehend

Until some point where returning rains
no more replenish your life and poetry
and you fade with no more left to gain
die a poet’s death – drawn-out and empty

Only your writings then will stay
to showcase your life-long secret fight.
And in this metaphorical way
I present you with: A Poet’s Plight.

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Flashback to Elementary School

In rainy weather I remember
how she pulled over her head
the wide hood of her black coat
to protect her straightened hair
so that she wouldn’t take
the injury of curls
undone by rain and falling
to the wind in joyous whirls –

And whatever else she said
about the curse of curly hair,
I disagreed, but silently,
since I knew she wouldn’t hear
my words, if I were to say
that she was beautiful some day

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New Poem: “Vitriol”

Is there something left to say?
Is there some good in store for humanity?
I wonder, as I always did;
I worry, as I should!

The world is always changing.
And so are we as well.
But I was always told that things
would turn out for the better?
Now, I need to see it happen
in order order to believe in anything at all!

I absolutely hate this vitriol –
I hate this cruel division.
Aren’t we all people?
Aren’t we all human?

Can we not stand together?
Can we not agree?
We share the world
with one another –
is that so hard to see?

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New Poem: “All Outside of Me and I Outside of All”

Watching tableaus change before my eyes –
people moving, scenarios altered,
everything now happens in a sort of vacuum –
all outside of me and I outside of all.

All outside of me and I outside of all
I float in the stillwater of myself
observing storms that rage around me –
have done so for years beyond recall.

And I am young by human standards
but my heart feels old.
I observe the heat of others
and it leaves me cold.

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New Poem: “The Wait”

I waited for the snowfall
but finally when it came
the snowflakes melted in the air
before they reached the ground
and all remained the same.

I waited for the sunshine
but when I finally caught a beam
it had no strength against the chill
so seeing how it came and went
might just as well have been a dream.

I look ahead, now void of hope
and wonder: What might stay
if anything at all.
Why bother grasping anything:
It comes and goes away.

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New Poem: “snow angels”

There was a girl
with name unknown,
her face was blank
and blue her gown

From where she came
nobody knew
and she disappeared
like the morning dew

Vanished at the sight of sun
its warmth could not
reach to her heart,
the doors were shut

And all she left behind
was angels in the snow,
melting in the spring
at sun’s relentless glow