Friday, 27 June 2014

A poem from 'Rib Cities' by the Swedish poet Eva Ström

The loving couple

The loving couple
thin with age, golden-wedding tinged
with brains worn into holes
have become disobedient children
that hide the security alarm
and live clocklessly outside the schedule
among left-overs and dizziness squalor
still in love, elated
in dried-out deposits of memory
disclaim the connection
with the ticking of the metronome

An age has forced its way out
is planning a weak-sighted wedding
rummaging among underclothes
for a down-soft memory

something infantile lingers
at the temple, sweeps past
the dry tears of the ear-conch,
shreds the account
into illegible chips
stretches the features
to thin grimaces
outside the limiting tracks
of the nervous system.

Monday, 23 June 2014

This time the ode is my own

ode to ma

woke up with outstretched
forearms hands pointing away
thumbs tucked along fore

fingers muscles taut
the word ‘skein’ in my head though
it should have been ‘hank’

but ‘skein’ is what ma
asked me to hold while she wound
garn into a ball

dip left wrist and up
dip right wrist and up while ma
winds the empty wool

Friday, 20 June 2014

Andersen again - The Wild Swans

The wild swans

Far from here, where the swans fly to when we have winter, there lived a king who had eleven sons and one daughter, Elisa. The eleven brothers – they were princes – went to school with a star on their breast and sword at their side; they wrote on tablets of gold with diamond styluses and could learn things by heart as easily as read them – you could tell at once that they were princes. Their sister, Elisa, sat on a small stool of mirror glass and had a picture book that had cost half the kingdom.
Oh, how well everything went for those children – but that was not going to last!

Want to read the whole fairytale? Just go to here.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

A poem by the young Dutch writer Anne Broeksma

It’s important to live in insipid surroundings

I am an inedible moth
differ from the edible specimens
by behaving like a moron at the right moment

it’s important to live in insipid surroundings
and I’m a great believer in the idea of only being a small example

there are people running around with right to return written behind their eyes
and who at the same time plant a flag on every square centimetre of growth

it’s a question of not wanting to fly towards the light
of not becoming the umpteenth twit that disappears into the sun

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

WYRIWYG - a Høeck poetic

ode on listening to music

what appeals to me
so much about haydn’s mus
ic is you get what

you hear – man bekommt
was man hört – the same applies
to poetry i

sincerely hope – you
get what you read for if the
words meant something else

than precisely what
is there on the page why not
write that something else?

Saturday, 7 June 2014

And a Whitsun poem from Klaus Høeck


       yeeah – let’s go out to
the vollsmose part of town
       together and see
       what’s cooking let’s go
out to the table of ba
       bel in the midst of
       diversity right
now at whitsun come on come
       with me in the po
       em and the spirit –
come don’t be afraid outland
       ish says the soundtrack

       come on then – it does
n’t cost anything (as it
       does at the zoo
       logical gardens
opposite) you’ll get a free
       peek in behind the
       headscarves the wind is
greener than the saudi-a
       rabian flag and
       the election post
ers are just the same as they
       are everywhere else

        what did i tell you –
there is nobody who’s throw
       ing stones at you no
       body slitting your
tyres nobody scratching the
       paintwork nobody
       insulting you or
your wife no cursing of the
       holy spirit there
       are not even a
ny graffiti whatsoev
       er on your poem

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Just the poem for today! Klaus Høeck in the last section of 'Palimpsest'

ode to peace of mind

i can’t remember
what i am to remember
and i’ve forgotten

what i am to for
get i can’t remember what
i am to forget

and i’ve forgotten
what i am to remember
for just a brief mo

ment i find myself
in a state of utter now
ness and peace of mind

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A translation of 'The Carillon' by the Dutch poet Ida Gerhardt

The carillon

The people in the streets looked stricken,
their ashen faces drawn and tight, –
then something made their features quicken
and, listening, they seemed brushed with light.

For in the clock-tower when, resounding,
the bronze-chimed hour had died away,
the carilloneur began his pounding
and everywhere was heard to play.

Valerius: – a solemn singing
with bass bell’s tolling undertone
and flickerings of lighter ringing:
‘We raise our eyes to Thy high throne.’

As one of all those nameless people
who by the house fronts came to stand,
I listened to the pealing steeple
that sang of my afflicted land.

This speechless gathering, beyond us
the city with Dutch light above –
I’ve never for what’s stolen from us
felt such a bitter, bitter love.

War year 1941

One of Hans Christian Andersen's 'poultry' ones!

 The farmyard cock and the weathercock

There were two cocks, one on the compost heap and one on the roof, both equally arrogant – but which was the more accomplished? Let’s have your opinion – we’ll keep our own anyway.
The hen-run was separated by a wooden fence from another farmyard where there lay a compost heap, and on this heap there grew a large cucumber who was highly conscious of being a garden-frame plant: ‘It’s all a matter of birth!’ a voice said inside it, ‘not everyone can be born a cucumber, there have to be other living species as well! Hens, ducks and all the livestock of the farm next door are also creatures. Now I happen to look up to the farmyard cock on the fence, he is definitely much more important than the weathercock, who has been placed so high up and can’t even creak, let alone crow! he’s got neither hens or chickens, he only thinks of himself and sweats verdigris! no, the farmyard cock, now there’s a real cock for you! see him strut, it’s dancing! hear him crow, it’s music! wherever he passes you can hear what a trumpeter is! If he came in here, if he ate me up leaf and stalk, if I ended up inside him, it would be a blissful death!’ the cucumber said.
That night there was a terrible storm; hens, chickens and the cock sought shelter; the fencing between the farms blew down with a mighty crash; the tiles fell off the roof, but the weathercock stood firm, he didn’t even turn, he was unable to; even though young and newly cast, he was sedate and sober-minded – he had been born old, did not resemble the fluttering birds of the sky, sparrows and swallows, he despised them: ‘dicky-birds, half-pints and two-a-penny!’ The pigeons were large, gleaming and shiny, like mother-of-pearl – looked a bit like a weathercock – but they were fat and stupid, their sole thought was to have a good tuck-in, the weathercock said, and boring company as well. The migratory birds had also paid a visit, spoken of foreign lands, of caravans of birds in the sky and terrible cock-and-bull stories involving birds of prey – that was new and interesting the first time, but later on the weathercock knew they would repeat themselves, it was always the same old story – and that’s so boring! They were boring and everything was boring, no one was interesting company, everyone was flat and stale.
‘The world’s no good!’ it said. ‘It’s all a load of rubbish!’
The weathercock was what is called blasé, and that would definitely have made him interesting to the cucumber, if she had known about it, but she only had eyes for the farmyard cock and now they were both on the same farm.
The fencing had blown down, but the thunder and lightning were over.
‘What do you all think of that cock-crowing?’ the farmyard cock asked the hens and chickens. ‘It was a bit on the coarse side, lacked any elegance!’
And the hens and chickens came over to the compost heap, the cock advanced with the strides of a rider.
‘Garden plant!’ he said to the cucumber, and in that single word she sensed the full extent of his cultivated nature and forgot that he pecked at her and ate her.
‘Blissful death!’
And the hens came and the chickens came and when one starts to run, the others follow suit, and they clucked and cheeped and looked at the cock, they were proud of him, he was one of their own.
‘Cockadoodledoo!’ he crowed, ‘chickens will soon become large hens when I say it in the henyard of the world!’
And both hens and chickens clucked and cheeped afterwards! And the cock announced a great piece of news.
‘A cock can lay an egg! And do you know what is inside that egg? A cockatrice lies inside it! No one can withstand the sight of it! Humans know that and now all of you know that too, know what lives inside me! know what a top-of-the-heap sort of a fellow I am!’
And the farmyard cock flapped his wings, waggled his coxcomb and crowed again; and gave all the hens and all the small chickens the shivers, but they were frightfully proud that one of their own, that he was such a top-of-the-heap sort of a fellow; they clucked and they cheeped so loudly the weathercock must surely hear it, and he did hear it, but he made not the slightest movement.
‘It’s all a load of rubbish!’ it said inside the weathercock. ‘The farmyard cock never lays eggs and I can’t be bothered! If I wanted to, I could certainly lay a wind egg! but the world isn’t worth a wind egg! A load of rubbish, all of it! – Now I can’t even be bothered to sit up here!’
And so the weathercock broke off and fell from his perch, but he didn’t kill the farmyard cock, ‘though that was certainly his intention!’ the hens said. And what’s the moral of the story?
‘Better by far to crow than be blasé and fall from one’s perch!’

Sunday, 1 June 2014

A favourite poem by Erik Menkveld


Already when the specimen was being served
adjoining tables stop the digging
of further trenches in the chestnut purée,

the spading of curled-up lettuce leaves
stagnates, wines linger in lifted glasses:
this fish is not the usual feast

of the deep. A revelation,
hauled it would seem from primordial
waters. Though head and tail-fin gone,

seasoned fishermen blinked back their tears
at the sight of breasts, the rudiments
of limbs. How many species had had to

perish for this peerless creature? Or
in it had their origin? But the time
has come for consumption. Uncertain moment:

the chef was faced with a culinary enigma.
How to prepare what’s never been prepared
and in itself is seemingly complete?

Poach, braise or marinate? Superfluous,
an insult. And what then? Do you keep things
simple with seaweed and slivers on toast

or does this call for a complex brandade
for the more demanding stomach? Raw, unsliced
it became, with ostrich egg and shoveller roulade.

Even the sploshing ice-cube water
halts at the point of pouring.
Then the first elected eater places

the first forkful in his mouth. He chews
in silence and unparalleled abandonment. Then
starts to utter ghastly screams. Revulsion,

ecstasy perhaps? He dances round for minutes,
subsiding into baffled staring. Even
after the babas he can’t speak about it.