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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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Red Interlude

I wanted equality for all. Or did I simply want to feel better about myself? I wanted justice for all. Or maybe mostly for myself? I wanted a bright future for all. Or perhaps dominantly for myself.
But all I knew at the time was that the words that came out of my mouth sounded mature and convincing – at least to my own ears.
I was so proud of having found something to prop myself up on that it hardly even mattered what it was – at least at the time.

Teenagers are fragile – more so than even they themselves think. And through the haze of hormones and emotions, making decisions at all is a near miracle.
I had been flirting with the idea of socialism for a while – the exact reason eludes me today. But at the time I really wanted to believe that it was because I was naturally predisposed to care about the welfare of others, and society in general. Because I wanted to believe in something.
I was living in a small, lazy industrial town with a high unemployment rate. There didn’t seem to be any bright future prospects. And my family seemed to have resigned themselves to that fact – whatever they might say in a political discussion, it was clear to me that they really only cared about their own lives, and failed to see the bigger picture. Later on I realized that such an observation did in fact not just apply to my parents, but to much anyone.

I met R in high school. He was a socialist (at least in speech). I was so impressed with how deeply he claimed to believe in what he claimed to believe in – as if he had life experience enough to know what he was talking about. He was the force that sent me over the edge into joining a communist party. I had been flirting with the idea for about three quarters of a year, but not seriously thought it through. After all, I was only 15.
Being idealistic is so easy as long as you aren’t paying your own rent or signing your own papers. As long as you’re eating at somebody else’s table and can’t vote. Keeping that idealism alive once you have to put your own bread on the table – that’s the tough part.

Everything was coated in red all of a sudden. The songs my mother and grandfather had taught me to sing as a child were all about red flags. When I was little I didn’t know that was a socialist symbol – the flag of Denmark is red as well after all. I just figured that’s what it was about. It wasn’t until my early teenage years that my brain became able to make the distinction. After all, my mother sang the Internationale and the Danish national anthem interchangeably – so why couldn’t the flags be interchangeable as well? It was all jumbled up for me until I started reading about politics seriously as a young teen.
I can’t even recall why I started taking an interest in politics. Perhaps it’s just in my blood. I grew up in the reddest municipality in Denmark (naturally, a poor one for Danish standards), with a proudly socialist mother and a loyally social democratic grandfather. It could be genetics – or contamination.

I wanted so badly to believe in something. To prop myself and my teenage insecurities up on something. And here was this hot teenage guy who had all the answers; and answers that fit in neatly with the songs I’d listened to in my childhood. Neatly coated in familiar red. And here I had a chance to impress him… And you could even fill out the form online.

I have no regrets about joining when it comes to it. I learned a lot in the communist party. That communists are paranoid and live in the past, namely. That fixed truths are too fixed to stay truths in the long run. That pragmatism wins out in the end no matter how well thought-out theories you counter it with. A theory is just a theory. Ideals are not reality. Predicting the future is impossible. And everything change, so looking for a final state of society isn’t worthwhile.
Granted, I don’t think that’s what the communists WANTED to teach me. But that’s what they DID teach me. Not with their words, but with their actions.

However, at the time, the world was a red haze. I was in love and I was fired up by the lethal concoction that was hormones, beliefs and emotions. The stuff that makes people make mistakes essentially. Good things mistakes are opportunities to learn.

I made progress quickly. Sat in on the high-level meetings. Was sent to Brussels to speak about the state of the Danish educational system at an international meeting for left wing parties. Played with the thought of starting a communist youth organization along with one of my friends. A friend who soon became a boyfriend. R was not forgotten but just out of reach, and this guy was truly devoted to “the cause” and we worked together. It seemed a match made in Heaven. We would fight together side by side, joined together by love and beliefs… Except that we weren’t. We were just teenagers who went through a phase.

I started writing for the newspaper of another worker’s party. However, I did so covertly because the two parties were fighting. They were both paranoid because they had attempted a merger recently (just before I joined), and the result had ultimately been that my party backed out, with the consequence that a significant minority left the party and merged with the other party on their own. Cue the drama.
I was happy writing culture stuff for the newspaper, which was even a daily, albeit a small one. I received free books and CD’s. I had a really nice editor. But I had to write under pseudonym for fear that my own party would find out. This very quickly started to bug me.

Gee… The idea evaporated into thin air as soon as my fingers hit the first key. What was it I had intended to write? I couldn’t remember. It was just that his face kept obscuring my thoughts. The intention of writing was always there, but the ability came and went like the wind – even when it was an article with a strict deadline I was working on. It didn’t seem to matter to my brain.
What had I intended to write? How would I get back on track? I needed to deliver that article on time or I would surely hear for it. I would rather avoid the scolding that would follow – but how? My mind took some sharp turns without warning. I just couldn’t seem to keep up anymore.

All the drama got on my nerves. I’m not a drama queen by nature, and even the teenage heat couldn’t keep up with the exhaustion I was starting to feel. I just wanted to live my life and here was this party limiting my opportunities. I could not write for the newspaper I wanted to write for, except in secret. I couldn’t hang out with the people I wanted to hang out with because my boyfriend got jealous. I couldn’t say what I wanted to say because anything to the contrary of official party line was met with demands for “schooling”.
Was it really worth it? My “belief” started to falter, little by little.

It was a farce beyond words. Three small communist parties, who might have been able to make something of a difference if they worked in unison, all Hell bent on stabbing each other in the back over who got to be the leader. Who got to have the last word. Who got to go to whose arrangements. Who paid for what.
I sat in on a meeting where my party – who held an annual festival in Copenhagen – decided to ban the newspaper I was secretly writing for (a daily), from said festival, out of fear that they might steal attention from the party’s own newspaper (a monthly pretty much only received by party members). It didn’t matter to them that the product was better, the texts better, the sales numbers infinitely better (if still small)… They just didn’t want competition. And that came right after issuing a statement in favor of collaboration.
Official party line vs. real life decision-making behind the scenes.

The pride of being a socialist waned. With that, the emotions for my boyfriend went out the window. It turned out that once I didn’t see him as a conquering hero whom I was fighting side by side with on the noble course of creating a stiflingly fixed “better” world for all, he was just a loser. A whiny teenager who didn’t have a single coherent thought in his head. Who really couldn’t fight to save his own life.
No, don’t get me wrong, he was a nice guy. He just wasn’t the one for me. Not at all. I grew up and my mind started working itself out – and he stayed in place. And stayed. And stayed. And never bothered starting to think for himself because, really, once you get used to letting other people make your decisions for you, learning to do it yourself is just too much bother…

The colour red evokes strong emotions in people. It is the colour of love, of passion, of war. For me, it is the colour defeat and loss as well. I love it because it still symbolizes my country, and also the ideals I was proud to share – even if they turned out to be no reflection of reality whatsoever in the long run – but it also makes me sad.
Going back to being what I really should have been all along – a social democrat – was a difficult decision. A more difficult decision than it should have been considering how right it was for me. But there was a lot of red haze to shake off. A lot of disillusion to overcome. A crazy high to come down from after having pledged one’s life to a cause that demanded so much – and going back to being an ordinary party member of an ordinary party that wasn’t populated by old people who desperately wanted some younger members to plan that impossible revolution they themselves must’ve long since realized that they were too old and frail and too out of touch to ever carry out themselves. What they never realized was that a revolution would never work in as stable and secure a country as Denmark anyway. Age is no guarantee for wisdom I suppose.

I was 15 when I joined. I was 16 when I left. It was less than a year but if felt like a lifetime. I wasn’t the same person going in as I was stepping out. And after that, it took a few years to clear my head enough to realize what I had taken with me from the experience, and how I could turn the chaos and confusion into something constructive.
I came out wiser and more composed. More at ease with myself. So all in all, it was good for something. But admittedly, I also felt kind of stupid.

I told myself that everybody makes mistakes. And that is true. And a hormone-drugged teenager who is even in love is all the more prone to such moves. But still… I should have known, on some level, that ideals are ideals exactly BECAUSE they aren’t real. If they were real they would’ve become reality at some point.

I know why I stayed those eight months after joining. Why I actually got caught up in the politics instead of just having it being secondary to my turbulent teenage love life. I know that beyond a doubt because I wrote a highly exultant poem about it about a month into this time-span: I felt that I belonged somewhere for the first time in my life. They made me feel that I fit in. They made me feel needed. They made me feel as if my life had a purpose, and they made me feel that they had the key I needed to attain said purpose. I didn’t feel like an outsider for the first time in my life. Getting a boyfriend inside the party was definitely a contributing factor to this as well, but they did groom me a good deal, and I was susceptible – for a time.
I would have done most everything to feel like I fit in. What teenager wouldn’t? And it wasn’t as if they asked for much in return except loyalty. It just so turned out that loyalty to a communist party is too much work to keep up once reality sets in.

Having to leave the communist party meant giving up my entire belief system and a good deal of my network. And surrender to fate. Throw in the towel. It was my luck that I met a Chinese guy just at the right time (oh, yes; the hormones were still raging) who was able to shed some light on the matter of communism in reality. His stories matched a lot better with my own observations than anything the comrades claimed it was all about. And when it came to it, you can feel like you belong in a relationship as well. You can feel a part of something bigger than yourself in a relationship as well. And it’s generally safer to look for it there than in politics.
Anyhow, that relationship granted me a respite in which I got to think everything through and definitively decide that communism wasn’t the way to go for me. That it was a beautiful ideal that didn’t work out in practice. That the communist parties were deliberately backstabbing their allies for “the greater good” and waiting for a revolution that would never come while jabbering about “class consciousness” as if it’s something that matters in the Western world in the 21st century where the working class is practically extinct… The more I read up on the subject, the more disillusioned I became. I’m glad I didn’t have to face it alone but had a citizen from a (so-called) communist country to support me through all this.

I have no regrets about any of the things I did. Neither joining or leaving. As I said; I learned a lot from the experience, and that is the most important part. The only things I regret is that I didn’t read Karl Popper earlier (it could have saved me all the trouble, really).

This is a powerless narrative. Those who wish to do what I did will disregard my words, and the rest will read in them whatever they want to read. But that doesn’t matter. I mostly wrote it for myself anyway. To admit what happened back then. To get the words out of my head and onto paper.
It’s funny all the same. When I re-tell the story it sounds like such a farce. Because that’s what it was. A farce. A political and sexual mish-mash comedy. But back then it was dead serious to me, and anybody who’d claimed otherwise would have had to answer for it.

But oh do I miss the high of believing in an all-encompassing worldview, and oh do I understand those who search for such a one and allow their whole lives to be entangled in it so that there’s nothing left besides it – whether it takes the form of politics or religion or anything else. I understand them. It so safe – floating in the fetal water of one all-encompassing comfort zone where everything is thought out for you so that you don’t have to do anything but allow yourself to surrender.
The only problem is – that life is not your own. It is owned by those who told you what to think and how to behave. Absolute truths are exactly what they are – absolutes. Nothing beyond and nothing besides. And no room for who you are outside of them.

The red haze has lifted. I still show up under red flags every once in a while at social democratic gatherings. But it is a world apart. It is the difference between being dictated to and accepting due to hormonal imbalances and a desperate desire to fit in; and having fruitful discussions amongst equals.

I can never go back. Nor do I want to. I grew up, I grew past it and I developed a brain that doesn’t take well to either making decisions based on emotions and hormones, or being told what to do.
But boy did I learn a lot.

I certainly did something constructive with my teenage years. Even if the thing I ultimately ended up doing wasn’t at all the thing I thought I was doing at the time.

It wasn’t the ultimate means to an ultimate end that I allowed myself to believe. It was an interlude. A red interlude that catapulted me from adolescence to young adulthood.

What a time.

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HER 1: Waiting for Her

I.

It was raining as usual. Since autumn set in the rain had been almost constant. She had hardly seen the sun in over three weeks.
All the same, the weather fit her mood.
She was waiting for the bus. It felt to her as if all she had ever done in her life was waiting. For the bus. For Her. For the bus again. Benching. Waiting for the bus. Waiting for Her. Benching. Waiting. For Her.
The rain weighed down her otherwise fluffy hair, and the drops on her glasses made it impossible for her to see. She took them off. Not that it helped in the least bit. It just made the world blurry instead of blotched.

Continue reading HER 1: Waiting for Her

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Fremtiden skrumper

Engang var fremtiden stor.
Engang var fremtiden.

Nu varer den højst en time
og så får vi se…
Jeg kan se frem til det næste
tik fra urets visere –
men ikke meget videre.
Engang var fremtiden
planer –
store, smukke planer
om at forbedre og perfektere
hele verden
eller i det mindste
personlige planer
om jobs og bolig og
den størrelse de voksen kaldte
kærlighed –
nu er fremtiden
at se frem til at elkedlen koger
eller at vækkeuret ringer
efter en søvnløs nat;
den er at planlægge hvornår
man skal betale regninger
og vaske tøj
og vande blomster.

Engang var fremtiden –

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Childhood Dreams

I used to dream of wisdom,
I used to dream of strength.
I used to dream of good things –
those dreams were all to end.

I used to dream up people,
I used to dream up jobs.
I dreamt of past and future –
the future that was lost.

I used to dream of travels,
they came and off they went.
I used to dream of happiness
but what I had is spent.

I used to dream of getting,
achieving… all in vain.
And now I dream of dreaming
for dreams alone remain.

But now I cannot dream
without that bitter sting;
that bitter voice that whispers:
“You’ve lost it, everything!”

What’s lost is mainly this,
the most important part;
that crucial belief in dreams
that warmed my childhood heart.

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The Dried-Up Ocean

Childhood vs. Adult Imagination

I remember, once upon a time,
an ocean stretching far and wide –
an open, endless, wide expanse
whose boundaries were out of sight

Yet now, when in that kind of mood
I take the path towards its strands
I find a muddied, little brook
that hardly stirs among the sands

And all the worse; where it before
was cool and quite refreshing, so
today it’s warm and drowsying –
no, nothing’s like it was before

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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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Confessions

Two stories inter-mingled. To You (you know who you are)

My mother made me store up
copper coins for wedding shoes –
at three years old I told her then:
“I won’t need those when I don’t want a husband!”
She said: “You’re too young to understand,”
and with a condescending look of pity off she went.

I grew in size, grew round in places too
and caught the eyes of those I didn’t want
but went unnoticed by the ones I’d like to know –
when mother asked: “Are you in love?” I would deny:
“No boy has caught my eye,” (and it was true)
and thinking of the girl I liked I went.

Yes, this one girl I really liked; I brought her home as guest,
presented her to mother as my “friend”,
and halfway through the conversation mother then complained:
“Why don’t you have a boyfriend yet?”
My girlfriend laughed and went.

And then the day came when I went to see my mom
dressed in my very best suit, necktie, shirt,
desiring now at last to tell her who I was, but home
she greeted me with: “You look like a dyke!”
and with a look that’s half of pity, half of pain
each tore the other from her heart
and from her doorstep finally I went.

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Spindrift

It’s spinning – the child,
the world spins along,
around and around
to the sound of the song

Fugitive of the world
in spindrift at speed,
dancing around
till over it keels, weak

But the world keeps spinning,
spirals out of control;
to a child’s shifty eyes
it seems about to fall

Turning ’round and ’round
the world keeps on spinning
though the child is laying still
too afraid to resume breathing

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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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Spring Coronet I

Come and remove this crown from my head;
a laurel crown whose leaves are dead
and replace it with a circle of flowerets
with spring’s brightest colours and shapeliest shapes
which your timeworn hands over my hair shall drape –
a life-reaffirming Spring-coronet

Let’s go out together through the forest green,
pluck the prettiest flowers human eyes have seen –
daisies, cornflowers, buttercups –
while we take in the birdsong greeting us through
the twigs over our heads, the Spring-birds will woo
us till our hearts burst, soaring to the highest tops

And let’s dance there together under the trees
to the sound of the birds’ soulful melodies –
it is Springtime, how life-reaffirming the word,
let us praise it together in song and dance
with an air of unmistaken romance
aided by sweet-smelling flowers and a wooing bird

And when the long, joyful day comes to an end
we’ll gather the flowers we plucked and descend
from our private Heaven to a humbler abode
with the coronet glowing with pride on my hair
waving in the warm, sweet-scented Spring air
as the sky darkens, and the birds now sing in Aeolian mode

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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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Nykteri 1.

At first it might’ve been a swell
a minor one to form, but in the vast expanse
of open ocean it could well
to such a size and shape that when advanced
to shorelines it could so amaze
and scare with all its might
that after its withdrawal, at its vapour trace
everyone who witnessed it
could but expressed delight

I say “it might” for I cannot recall
what happened when I met you long ago,
and after all this time and after all
we have been through how could I know
a thing that hasn’t been tainted
or at the least amended
by much later events we’ve shared?
Or coloured by the things I never dared
to tell you, which continued to
plague me whenever I saw you?

It has been years, it’s been eternity
for all I know, since we first met –
as children in a school class,
and when I first had set my eyes on you
when you walked through the door
I saw reflected in your face
the outline of a destiny:
To love and cherish someone
whose partner
I could never become

At first I didn’t feel the impact
but over time it grew in size
and though I summoned the utmost tact
I could barely contain it,
forbid it from making itself known
although it often did attempt to rise
within me; demanding to be shown,
to be of strength beyond belief and be
yet still of a, however fatal, beauty

Nykteri, your nickname which was all
that I could give you then,
you became my friend
but all that I today recall
with all the details it deserves
is love I never shared with you
although I all other secrets spilled –
with or against my will –
just to be seen by you

As time progressed and we grew up
love grew in size as I myself –
and yet I was too shy,
too insecure to tell

And time went by
and we went separate ways –
friendship waned with distance
but in many ways
although you were another place
and all around me everything had changed
my feelings didn’t care.

It was a pain to see you
and not being seen by you.
You did remain my love,
my pale, cold, distant celestial light,
and though I wished that I could blame it all
on you for never seeing what was there
I could not stop myself from wishing you were there,
so that I could tell you – without fear –
it all – it, everything – despite the fact that you
had already chosen another instead of me.

And though I tried there was no stopping this,
I lived my life in inward solitude and wished
for what would never happen, your return;
the thought alone was all for which I yearned.

But as is plainly known, what can’t be said
is often best with silence said –
your absence spoke as clear to me
as any words that you could then have said.

My answer to the question which I never asked
was right in front of me
in shape of what I feared I’d never get to see;
your face again in front of me,
Nykteri!

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New Poem: “Glazed”

glacial spread-out
ideas and thoughts
novelty throughout
about a world,
non-existing,
an unreal world
of unreal beings,
your mind unfurls
a tale of creation –
shining pearls
but imperfection
in every one,
you try to see
beyond
the scope of vision,
but can’t fathom
the existence
of reality
and destination,
you’ll dissipate
like mist the day
you realize
your mind’s betrayal
of your ideals
of perfection

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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