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Epilogue

  This collection willed itself into being at a time when I was planning an entirely different writing project, and stayed strong throughout the changes and/or demise of that and other projects I was doing on the side. I never planned it. It willed itself into being.

  I won’t deny that it is essentially one long ode to depression. That should be fairly obvious to you if you made it this far. It reflects my state of mind fairly well I’d say. And that should kind of also explain why the writing of the collection became such a pressing matter that it pushed all other things aside.

  So, well, here it is! An intermission of a poetry collection. Written over a six month period of recuperation and recharging. The first poems (not counting the older ones that snuck their way in) were written in the immediate aftermath of my grandfather’s death, but didn’t fit into my last poetry collection which I were publishing at the time. The newest poems are rounding up everything, just barely making it over the finishing line at the eleventh hour. And now I can write no more of it. The theme is exhausted. Not because there is nothing more to say. Just because my situation has changed, and the sadness and loneliness that fueled the poems no longer extant in my life. Thus, it is done.

  The timing – with regards to this collection – could not be better. It closes a chapter for me, so that I can now allow myself to face squarely forwards.

 

  This is the end. I hope you got something out of the reading – at least remotely resembling how much I got out of the writing.

 

  Thank you for staying on.

– K-M Skalkenæs

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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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The Poet Encounters the Prosaic

Someone once said to me: “Not all of your poems have to be good. After all, when you need to fill out a whole book, some of the material will inevitably just have to be fillers.”

Just no.

A chance meeting between a poet and the most prosaic person to ever live, possibly.

Undoubtedly a person who hasn’t written a single word that wasn’t a school assignment or a text message.

A person who doesn’t have much to say and insists on saying it loudly and with as many words as possible nevertheless.

Whereas I have spent years trying to say as much as I can with as few words as possible. Cutting to the bone and distilling the essence of a message.

Boiling it, tending the fire beneath it until it was time to retrieve it – the few select cuts of words returned to me.

Go back and recreate the unnecessary left-overs?

Just no.

You can’t add fillers without destroying the picture. Who cares if the eyes are well drawn if the rest of the face is a cartoon?

Just no.

But then again – a person who would say such a thing in the first place is probably not likely to be either willing or able to read a poem in the first place.

That kind of people just want their heads filled with noise so that they don’t have to think.

The antithesis of my mission.

The beauty of such people lies only in the fact that their prosaic nature makes the poetic stand out in contrast all the starker and more visible – even to those with less discerning eyes.

I praise the prosaic. Without it, there would be no reason for poetry.

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The Endless Question

The question never ceases to surprise me –
the only one most men have wits to think of
when they hear that I write poetry.

“So, you write love poems, don’t you?”
over and over – always the same –
never anything smarter – nothing new.

I’m tired of having to answer: “No”
but since I do not write of things
I don’t have knowledge of, it must be so!

Granted, in youthful folly, I once tried –
but that endlessly repeated question saw to it
that the impulse very quickly died…

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Whatever Comes Of It, At Least I Tried, I Did

I would write,
I would write but I am tired and the words don’t come –
perhaps tomorrow
or any other day but today.
But if I say that every day
I may never get to write again
and that thought is so scary
that I try – at least try –

Because what else would I do?
How else would I express myself?
I would explode eventually
with all those words inside me
that cannot make their way out
unless I write them down
and hand them to you.

So I write –
so I try to write
and whatever comes of it
at least I tried,
I did.

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The Words Don’t Wait

The words don’t come
when I want them to –
they drift through my mind
there, then gone.

I can’t remember them
as soon as they’ve moved on –
a spark of inspiration
there, then gone.

Then one drifts slowly by,
slow enough for me to grasp
and examine, and the words
materialize at last –

and the very first sentence
has made its way to paper
when somebody knocks the door…
And then I stand here later

Looking at that paper –
but the words couldn’t wait,
they’ve moved beyond my reach
and again it is too late.

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One Could Write of the Future

One could write of the future.
It’s just so hard.
Because you then accept in advance
that everything you write
has a built-in expiration date.
Since the date of your choice one day
will no longer be in the future.

One could also write of the past.
That’s even harder.
How much hasn’t been forgotten or altered
and how much isn’t altered
further
with every weighted word
written or spoken of times we haven’t lived through
and therefore don’t understand.

One could also write of the present.
But what is the present?
Isn’t it past already
once the reader picks up your book?
And how much do we actually notice
while it happens
rather than through
later reflections?

One could also just stop caring
about time.
Just write the time off.
Literally.
It passes anyway
no matter what.

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How About Writing About Something I Know?

How about writing about something I know?
Something I care about?
How about not caring in advance whether the reader understands
or wants to understand
or whether or not it even matters?
How about settling for the idea
that everything matters
and that if I write about something that is
meaningful to me, heartfelt and genuine
that will shine through
and make every word count all the more?
What if I’m wrong…?
But what if I’m right!

How about writing about Lolland.
That’s the island I come from.
Why have I never written about it before?
Well, I have,
but never mentioned the name.
What if giving it its proper name
alienates certain readers
or makes the text less universal
(as if a text ever can be universal)
or makes it more difficult to relate to
or something like that?
But what if it doesn’t!

What if you try to write something universal
and end up with something insipid and vague
that nobody could possibly care for.
Why not write something personal?
Why not write of my home?
As if other people don’t have a home
and wouldn’t understand what it feels like
to long back to it.

Why even pretend that there is a difference
between the personal and the universal –

I want to write about Lolland.
It is an island in the south of Denmark.
It has 60.000 inhabitants.
It is very flat and fertile.

It is my home.

I don’t live there.
I haven’t lived there for ten years now.
It changes nothing.

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I Want to Write About Lolland

I want to write something beautiful.
I want to write something meaningful.
And perhaps that’s the entire problem.
Perhaps that’s why I never get to write
nearly as much as I think about writing.
Reality is just not that pretty.
And why write something
that doesn’t either reflect reality
or could become reality?

Perhaps keeping it real isn’t as boring as I used to think –
perhaps it’s the only way to get to say something
that is truly worthwhile
and could possibly stand the test of time.

I want to write about Lolland
because that’s where my heart is on most days.
Not about the beaches,
the dikes and the hills
or the lakes and the fjords.
Not per se at least.
But about the feeling of complete disconnect
from the rest of the world
caused by intense connection
with one single place
that assaults me
whenever I go there.

I will not use the phrase “go home”
because that’s too emotional
even for me.
I “go there” every once in awhile
to visit my family
and breathe that air
and walk that earth
for no particular reason.
At least no logical reason.
And so I cannot really describe it
because my mind is so
terribly logical
that it wants a logical reason
and balks at the lack of one.

I just “go there”, ok?

Every once in awhile
drawn
beyond reason.