Nothing prepared us for this.
We could not plan for the outcome,
nor invent the riches, the lair of a dragon
wholly one with the earth.

Its mind had not been revealed.
No one had dug it out.
Only in the hidden depth, in the alien,
the birth of god was possible.

But what is god?
It is the wrought and won proportion,
but only as something undone,
something that destroys the one who makes it,

for the gaze of a god is impossible to bear.
What you have made, what you have found
is nor yours, it says; not anyone’s.
It is the dragon.

It is the earth, claiming back its gold.


An orange glow streams into darkened rooms.
Brown ragged clouds turn over and remain
A ceiling for the innocent and brave
Old rabbits grazing on the gleaming lawns.
Where nothing hurts us now, and all is safe,
Young mothers nurse their precious little friends,
And in bright shops, fine things rest in their cots.

Stars loom, as close or distant as a cousin,
Above the tombs of men, a silent vault,
A home for those who find in death a house,
A place to keep, when their long day is done,
Still near to us who feel the winter sun,
Which stings the eyes of those who must endure
The waiting years before they find their cure.

You, who neither hope for glory or demise,
Lie sleepless with these words that cannot cast
Anew your frame of reference, blind chance.
This is no future dreamed of in the past —
This godlessness of animals who last
To witness how the miracle of life
Once arose, under all-engulfing night.


for Aase Berg

They ask of us so many things:
To fill the silence in the center of words;
To measure the wealth and height of healthy man,
And be the foil to his fondest crimes.

Against the obligation to oblige,
Against the affirmation of what is subscribed
Stands only the molting mouth of a bite
That finds no satisfaction in smiles:

The negativity of the snake, the camouflage
Of the cold at heart, who only allow the sun to touch
Their seething scales to build up rage,
The fuel of their poisonous tongues.

O, let that patient gland that cooks
Bad breath, and sharp-voiced song
Be your protection, your own charmed pharmacy,
The factory of your ever-changing skin.

For nothing in our mammal mythology
Breeds us for birthing ourselves:
Only the ancient, hissing exigence
Of the oldest enemy, the critical one.

The Door Home

And still, something is there, is present:
something in you sings, when the maple
covers the opposite wall and white window sills
when you return, foreign tastes still

lingering, and greens will spill and splash
in the evening red, and past the bank of tulips,
past the young potato and cabbage
you feel again that pasture, your own yard —

cross the threshold, throw yourself to safety,
as if a homeless beast were out to discover you,
knew you by name, knew everything
you can only guess at yet, daunted.

Inside, sturdy steps ascend to a door,
which the same familiar key still homes towards,
and a low-lit room lets you sit down, unfound,
your own plate on a palm’s ground.

Lilac Vesper

At first, only a familiar, distant bristling,
like the claws of a hunter’s hand
brushing a hawthorn hedge:
hyenas, locked in a contest of strength.

How soon will vespers settle in a lilac shade,
daubed by blues that recede like breath
cooling welted flesh? Then,
a boy like a long lost brother

will venture the stifling evening roads
and return to the place where he came,
where even angels lack their place,
coralled by a dog star’s reign.

There’s no room in that land for us,
paupers of love, who grow not, diminish.
But you, wandering brother,
what pith do you feign?

Only your proud back remains.


What is one to do,
when the painful grasping of youth
returns to its reach,
not having captured its gain?

The incandescent orange
of a sky at dusk,
midwinter’s stark black
draws willow lines up from snow

blue-white, settled in to stay,
hard as concrete,
as real as anything gets.
This, too, shall pass.

It is only half of who we are.
A quarter, an inch –
comes a deluge, returns the drought,
the burden of harvest,

a season of doubt.


Ripe bats trickle down dark leaves.
New graves distill in vagrant mist.
A thousand fat flowers sleep
in the deep mouth of a black ravine,

as a naked girl laughs and vomits.
A hard drunk boy in tall grass
worms towards the nymph. A stench
of willowherb chokes the riverbed.

A genial wind fans. The girl’s
virgin Vespa is safely secured
in the forest’s confident bosom.
A tarred boat sloshes in a weak stream.

From The Bad Mother (Paha äiti), 2012.

The Wanderer

From the pines’ embrace the wanderer plies
to a green stream’s niggard bank.
The restocked eider flounders to wing,
weakly sputtering water about.

Dusk crawls into a boring park.
A lazy deer starves in a copse,
its blunt snout snatching at a question.
Our mind is nothing but incursion.

An old pot boils on the fire.
Expensive fibre dries on a branch.
At night, our mustard’s yellow glitter
grinds the skin of charred banger.

From The Bad Mother (Paha äiti), 2012.

The Last Shore

On the last shore’s breast, the dusk of the sky-sand’s veil
gleams, abated torment, evening windows. Days felt

dealt what, in the end, came to pass, the elapsed
of the sun’s hill. What remained? The highway-hurrier’s

greying stain, the heart of the toothed wheel, glass
that burns in the twilight thresh: no more will the sight,

which burdens the pained, envelop the sky-veil’s span
at the night-shore’s calling: on the shin’s cusp

a lancing feeling falls through the right-then, where flashed,
in a while, the cart’s when. Frightened, the bridge’s linen

was gone and forgotten. Return to the matte, o blue,
far on the roads you have fared already, boil us

the frolicking red of our tears, the “still”, the “perhaps”.

From Futurama, 2010.

The Great Horned Owl

As children of the orange underwing
crawl out of currant leaves in the Spring,
barklice, blackflies, spiders ooze
from the entrails of plants rousing

from torpor, the sedge and reed warblers,
water fleas of a shallow pond,
gnats delivering parasites and conformity,
the yells of Biblical monkeys, spawn.

Hedgehogs budge, grasshoppers chirp,
small lizards with slimy feet in cut pebble,
baby roach like dolphins swarm
sweet lakes and rivers, thrive

as white waves surge down rapids and falls,
splashing is heard in the gloom of ponds.
Copses are filled, out of a dragon’s mouth
storks fly with a lazy beat of their wings

to find food. Millions of stars
are brighter than usual, swans lively,
keelback slugs grow fast, birdhouses
need to be straightened, blackberries,

grey uncles in their tavern playing checkers,
a raven in a spruce shakes feathers.
A cool breeze brings the smell of ferns.
There are no words, just 5 kilograms of pasta

and tomorrow, more from the store…
An easterly drizzle, I wanted to say something
about humans, but they went
and talked about themselves first.

What then? Kingcups are flourishing,
we are heading through summer
towards autumn, the horned owl
kills a rabbit on a car store lot.

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