I never have to be afraid

                        to say what I please about life here,

                  I wake up on my own each morning, sometimes

                                    of course the alarm clock rings

         and for heat I just turn on

                    the radiator or give word to

              the finicky superintendent, money I get in the bank

                        on Fersens Street if I need it and love

      takes more time than I can spare, for my work

                        is a more self-actualizing hobby.

         I have to force down the food

                  because I've always eaten too much

         the last time, art is no sweat

                              and bad news always seems very remote

                     as long as it's not about Malmö United,

sickness is found in the hospital

                        and death in the cemetery, of course they are

              unpleasant subjects but unavoidable.

                                  More or less the only time

         I go around moaning and groaning

                is when Bosse Larsson is in bad form

         or when I think too much

                                about how I'll get a pension and die

                    according to all calculations.






Any day now Willow Lake will be freezing over,

                                    the rain has gotten denser and pelts

      harder and harder against the thin glass walls of the romance,

                              this summer we sat here, Merete and I,

            and felt as if we were in a completely alien

                                          and authentic world.

The weather and the sunset and the weeping birches

                                    and the tourists feeding birds,

            we weren't in Malmö at Olga's Coffee House,

                              not even in Malmö at Chez Olga

         as it's called these days thanks to

                                    the French owner and our need

                              for illusions, not in Sweden

         and not in the world with its clumsy stage-sets,

                                    everything was alien and authentic.

                              Now the sleet is pelting

                                            still harder against

         my sodden winter coat, soon it'll drive holes

                              in me, I'm made of skin,

                                    it shatters me, this miserable rain,

                              I'm made of glass, too hard

                     to be hard. In the fall

                                            you find out a lot,

how fragile you are, how you're trying to keep your balance,

                                                   how good lives

                                            off evil,

                        the kidney pain is grinding again,

                                 you want to wreck yourself with drink and die.

            Last fall I got a letter from a rich relative,

                        it was about how I ought to write

about beauty and love in the world

                                 and not about humiliation and hate.

                        At the top of the page was


Southeast Asia's Finest Seaside Resort Hotel,

                                      with flourishes and an emblem and the works,

         at least a hundred thousand people have been murdered in Bali

                    for the sake of beauty and love.

Yesterday I found out that Willow Lake

                           was dug by chain gangs from the county jail

         in the beginning of the century, in the fall you find out a lot,

                                 everything's gotten so close to me now,

            suddenly the whole world is here

                      in little Malmö.







I jumped up, the bed was screaming,

                                the rugs, the lamps, the piles of newspapers,

   the curtains were screaming, my slippers, I opened

                                                      the screaming window,

         the screaming was twice as bad down in the street, the air was screaming,

                            couldn't get any air, all the names were screaming

from the telephone book on the table in front of me,

                                the table was screaming, what should I do,

         from the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, Mandrax, Valium, Saridon,

the faucet, the water, the pipes were screaming, screaming,

                                            from the pantry, from all the spice jars,

from the butter and the ice and the juniper-smoked sausage in the refrigerator,

            the refrigerator was screaming and the new polka-dot linoleum,

         the saucepans and the dishes, every plate, the glasses,

                                                  I jumped up, the telephone screamed,

jerked the plug out of the wall, the wall screamed,

                    the plug, the telephone kept screaming, the cigarettes,

         the typewriter, I rushed around in my screaming pajamas,

                                                      the records and the pictures,

                                  the flowers were screaming, tried to hold my ears

                               with screaming hands,

tried to stuff screaming cotton in them,

                        screaming, screaming, my jacket in the hall,

on the stairs the neighbors were screaming, Merete was screaming in her sleep,

                                                      the cars in the distance, I turned out

   the screaming lamps, they screamed

                              in the dark, the sky and the stars, my rushing blood,

                                                      skin, hair, everything was screaming,

               I banged my screaming head

                                    against the walls that only screamed louder, I scratched

my screaming face, my nails screamed,

         my blood screamed and ran down

                          into my screaming eyes, everything was screaming,

                                  everything, the whole world was screaming: "Speak for us

                  who cannot speak!"





I'm scrawling these white sheets whiter,

                              each word I add

                  is part of a gigantic subtraction, each step

         each breath and possibility. The bookshelves gape

                                        emptier the more books there are,

                       the closets the more clothes,

                        the jewelry and safe-deposit boxes,

         the shipyards and the dead-weight tonnage.

Love, we're kissing huge holes in each other

                           and I am releasing my seed

                  over you like a shroud

      and another I, Richard Milhouse Nixon, am releasing bombs

                  that do not save me, am bombing myself,


                                      With each moment whoever is alive

                                    is growing emptier and emptier,

                                      isn't it clear

              that the world needs antipower?

                                    Not power or dreams of power

         but antipower

                      that will sneak into the voids,

                                         thrive there and people

              us with humility and thankfulness and distrust

                      of a pyramidal blueprint of the world.


                                                                           Translated by Roger Greenwald.


From Tiden i Malmö, på jorden  © 1974, 1983 by Jacques Werup

Translations from The Time in Malmö on the Earth  © 1989 by Roger Greenwald

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