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The Poet Takes Pains to Reflect

Grasping at the strings attached to everything in life –
seeking out the meaning wishing that it wouldn’t hide
(or that at least I knew that it existed)
writing down my findings – although I first resisted

The good, the bad in everything –
composed, compressed, compiled –
I smile, I hurt; yet through it all
I only search for words
so that I might recall –

And filed away beneath it all
is the humanity that brought it forth
– against my will, according to my nature –
for what it may be worth

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Just a Drop of Water

I am nothing unique, really –
I am a drop of water
in the river of society,
unsatisfied,
unfulfilled,
like any other.

We’re headed somewhere collectively
but that is not a place I wish to see –
the fear is always there;
being hidden in the stream of history,
drowned among the others and forgot
like so many – most –
who lived and shaped our lives today
but still, whose thoughts and names were lost.

I am nothing unique, really –
just another drop of water
that evaporates eventually,
meaningful,
unsuccessful,
like any other.

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The Global Organism

A worldwide network – a pulsing nerve-cell transmitting its message to anybody, anywhere, anytime. A channel that automatically, intuitively knows how and where to transmit data – no matter who requested it and where they are, as long as they haven’t been disconnected.
It is not alive, and yet it is strangely sentient, and remarkably resilient. And it grows as we speak.
It was born in the mind of technicians, and live on by the work of engineers and programmers who love and cherish and nurture it. It has been proclaimed dead several times over, but it just refuses to care. It is here to stay. And so it stays.

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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.

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SPREAD

1.

Does the cell think of the purpose of its existence as it wriggles its way around between its many brethren? Does it ever consider how small and fragile it is, or how and why it exists? No. It just exists. It moves around because that’s what it does. And that very action in inaction is the foundation of life. Thinking is disastrous on lower levels – it is a privilege of accumulated distance to one’s roots.

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Art Through Participation

In the past, art has been the work of one artist, and it has been supposed to conclude in a final ”work” that was unalterable and meant for display only. But times have changed, and they keep on changing. Today, there is no rule stating that art has to result in a “work”. Technically, art can be an ongoing process. The internet has made it possible to get feedback faster and from a much wider audience, and the artists who use this venue for publication could easily use it to expand on their work over time, and change it according to the audience’s wishes. Technology makes it possible to change the perspective, the means and the goals of art altogether.

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Fingers

Fingers stretch out everywhere
to reach, to grab and tear

to drag life out of its hiding place,
the withering flowers,
the branches of the leafless trees –
nature’s now-barren bowers
with their beauty-spreading powers
shielding emptiness

to grab hold of meaning and essence,
to tear at the roots of existence –
the fingers of the brittle stars,
the fingers of pollen,
fingers reaching, spreading out
in nature’s feeding- and reproduction war

to reach for death or grasp for life,
to seek out darkness, seek out light –
the ivy clinging to the wall,
the blind mole digging underground,
the seagull for the shoreline bound

and your own hands, digging in dirt
for means of existence,
your own, shallow words
naming plants and animals, and needs and wants
with different names
though they’re all the same –
just fingers grabbing hold
of some means of existence;
reaching, grabbing, tearing
and holding on to everything

holding everything together –
keeping everything in place

in this place

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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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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.