Black Immanuel

Ravenna’s Christ-Apollo,
famed for working miracles,
has flaky hair like Alexander
in the Issos jigsaw.

In his gaudy purple pallium
the bastard Nazarethan is
a Roman demigod,
an alchemical priest

come to bless us with a host
of fish, bread and prayer,
transmuting coiffured Savior
into hairy Norman king.

A picture’s map will edge
its maker before pictured world;
a time lends from its time.
Soon, this gaunt visage

will mix with ghastly images:
corpses in a misty tomb
and soldiers at the gates, then
a snapshot flash, the guard is blind,

he turns the boulder over:
inside the king of apes,
black Immanuel,
spits on his haunches into stone

the image of an ox that works
a colored miracle.
Judge him, for he knew
what he was doing.

From A Dragon’s Son (Lohikäärmeen poika), 2007.

The Anthill

Mounds of ants hide in the heather,
water the color of beer
makes waves to the opposite shore.
A cool birch by a wooden pier
covers my father’s wading figure.

You say, go into your memory,
grind down to its frost,
to save the days that have been lost.
I do not understand this must.
I’ve yielded nothing, my father

has not aged a single day:
I celebrate this landscape of illusion
constructed out of error’s stains,
like the larvae of the horntail flies
that ate the needles of young pine

as brown as all that water
stretching out to where it lost
its found color in the distance.
Time is violent. There is no resistance.
We ford into the anthill,

raise high our weapon, pride.

From Turistina täällä (A Tourist Here), 2004.

Midsummer Eve

A spider embroiders the kitchen window.
Thought’s cobwebs stretch their muscles
as reminiscence threshes feelings
on the dew-wet grass.

It’s midsummer. Guests are out in the yard,
burning wood, cigarettes and hotdogs;
the tamed flames of docile gods.
This bonfire, my late prometheans,

you believe it’s a conquest?
Extinguish it – the very last thing we need,
now when our hollow stomachs neigh
at the instant our feasting has ceased.

Parched, you look for more wine in the cellar,
but the musty tomb’s only dwellers
are old souvenirs from the southern isles,
painted landscapes of a culture’s cradle.

What did you fish for, with what conditions?
The torn net droops from your fingers.
A coiled-up weaver sleeps in its knots,
a knitter knitted by its knitting:

Arachne, the failed muse.

From Turistina täällä (A Tourist Here), 2004.