English

Confessions of a Lucrative Dreamer

A day in the shopping centre

The meaning of life never wears a suit
when he goes grocery shopping.
He shows up in an old polo neck
and knee-length trousers.

The meaning of life pushes the cart

barefoot in orthopaedic sandals

and it’s up to anyone to deem
whether more frequent pedicures would be recommended.

 

A woman sees him coming with his bags out into the parking lot.
She leans over to her husband and asks:
Honey, could this be the meaning of life?

 

Blimey, says hubby and ignites the SUV.
This is the meaning of life.
Only today he isn’t wearing a suit.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

Snooze in the carriage

 

There’s nothing like snoozing in the carriage.

I holler when Mom bundles me up to go out

but drop off as soon as she trundles off.

 

Mom often wheels the carriage into a bus.
Another mom wheels the bus through the city.
Yet another mom wheels the earth around the sun.
The mom of all moms wheels the solar system along the Milky Way.

 

All this happens while I snooze in the carriage.

 

While I snooze everything happens here too at home.
Jeep tires spin on the sidewalk.
A dog walker slips poop into a bag.

 

I know exactly where we’re headed.
I’ve gone there before.

 

I’ll soon be three months old
soon a year old and twelve
soon it won’t be far to twenty and thirty.

 

Suddenly I jerk awake and the next stop is eighty.

 

I know these eyes looking at me. Mamma.

 

(Daniel Teague)

 

Solo without accompaniment

 

The checkout line is long and it lengthens.
It lengthens and lengthens. I wait and I wait.
My cheeks grow hot. My turn has come.
There are people behind. They wait and wait.
Bloody girl. Transaction declined.
I don’t look back. I know they see me.
Transaction declined. None of them know me.

 

None of them know me. My turn has come.
I intend to travel. I wait and I wait.
Dance my senses away at a Rio carnival.
Banter stark naked with the borealis in a hot tub.
Swim with dolphins. Smoke hash.
Bloody girl. Transaction declined.

 

Transaction declined. I don’t look back.
Show in an inside-out jumper. Put soles in sand.
My cheeks grow hot. My relief is now.
Get letters in the mail not sent from bank.
They wait and wait. I wait and I wait.

 

I wait and I wait. My turn has come.
I am reconciled with my life. They wait and wait.
I get angry and shout. Transaction declined.
At last I say: No. My cheeks grow hot.

 

My cheeks grow hot. Bloody girl.
Feel the warmth of arms around my neck again.
A bag rustles. I don’t look back.

 

I don’t look back. There are people behind.
My cheeks grow hot. My turn has come.

 

My turn has come. I wait and I wait.

 

(Katie Parsons)

 

The antiquarian book-shop

 

Suddenly the antiquarian book-seller shouted:
I’ll be right back

 

You could hear the door open.
You could hear a car outside.
You could hear people.
Then the door closed and there was silence.

 

I was in the middle of a novel.
Paused.
Continued to turn the pages.

 

Then the telephone began to ring
and ring again
behind the counter.

 

Noone came to answer and the phone
continued to ring and ring
before it stopped ringing and there was silence.

 

It was curious to stand there all alone
in the middle of a story.

 

Then I heard a rustle or a sigh.

 

I hesitated. Finally peeked around the end
of a shelf and met a pair of eyes that peeked
around the end of a shelf further back in the shop.

 

Then another pair of eyes appeared
even further back in the shop
in the history section
and another pair by the poetry
and yet another pair by the folklore.

 

Suddenly it was curious not to be alone
in the middle of
something.

 

At that precise moment
they disappeared
all these eyes
behind innumerable shelves
behind all kinds of knowledge
and everything was so silent and so silent
and the telephone had long stopped ringing.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

Sunny day on the balcony

 

Along the building sweet hope strolling
The most beautiful woman in the world
young mother
with two children
two children skipping
and hopping on the pavement

 

Little ones stopping at the corner
will not cross
until mummy says it’s allright

 

May peace rule here forever
and love forever, too
young mother
and her little ones.

 

Yes.

 

(Ylva Hellerud

 

Kitchen Gallery

 

Ever more drawings on the fridge.
Two blue birds.
Sun. House. Tree.
Smiling man.
Smiling woman.
Child with happy hands.

 

Soon there won’t be room for yellow post-its
and no need for a list of things wanting.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

Middle-aged give way sign

 

I wasn’t born a give way sign
but devoted my life to the job
and don’t know anything else.

 

My calling was to shush one and all
tell them to take it easy
and give way to others.

 

Still standing by the crossways
I am nothing but helpfulness
same old give way sign

 

same old give way sign
unable to look itself in the mirror.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

Coffee and me kind of

 

Messages on my coffee machine:
Place beans in grinder.
Fill watertank.
Select strength.

 

Never a word in confidence.
Never asks how I am feeling.
No more than God
or the leadership of the country.

 

The coffee machine gives me orders.
Do this. Do that.
I obey. I execute.
I’m all for teamwork.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

Between floors

 

I am not visible in mirrors.
Not visible. Not
visible.

 

This condition is no handicap
but out of respect for others
I show up early
and leave late
to avoid company in the lift.

 

But now a young woman is standing next to me.
She forced her way in
just as the door was closing.

 

I watch her in the mirror.
I wait for her to look up
gaze in the mirror and then at me.

 

Nothing happens.

 

Maybe she looked up without my noticing.
Maybe she’s pretending not to notice.
Maybe she’s hoping there is a hidden camera.

 

She doesn’t know what happens next
And I don’t know what happens next.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

Afternoon at Red Lake

 

Afternoon at Red Lake.
Twilight at Red Lake.
One car pulls up and waits.
Then another one, with round headlights.
Exchange of light signals
and a crouched figure runs between cars.

 

There is love in a car at Red Lake.
Me, I’m and accidental witness
out walking the dog.

 

Hopefully no trouble back home.
Hoepfully no tears.
Hopefully they’ve invented a game
staging a rendezvous in a car at Red Lake.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

The solemn vow of the last viking

 

I promise to dash with the millionth tourist
up the eastern hills
in a blizzard to boot
listen to the radio and interpret simultaneously:
The highland road is closed but we continue nontheless

 

Halfway down the steep descent I’ll scream into the snowdrift:
Down there we used to grow bananas
and all kinds
all kinds of
tropical stuff.

 

We will soon see the light. We will
soon see the light. We will soon see the light.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

The new guy said

 

The new guy said his mum had been to Benidorm.
Started last winter.
Said his mum had been to Benidorm.

 

Y’know what: Mick Jagger had the suite
in that very hotel
and one day they met in the elevator.

 

He said.

 

Know what mum said?
He said.
He was so tiny.
Said mum.
Said he.
So tiny.

 

I’ve sort of heard that before.
Did you see the Beatles? I asked my sister
when she’d been to England in ’66.
No.
But I saw when the Rolling Stones
were thrown out of a hotel in Manchester.

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

You just don’t throw the Stones out of a hotel.

 

You just don’t say that Mick Jagger is tiny.
The sun never sets in his empire.
The sun never sets in the empire of the Rolling Stones.

 

(Translated by Ylva Hellerud)

 

Friday

 

Go to the bank.

 Look at washing machines.

 Buy groceries.

 Return Siggi’s book

 Save the world.

 Wash the car.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

Telefunken

 

Mum describes the fire once more.

 

She woke up, the room all in flames
and thought: out. And ran. Out. Ran.
The only thing she salvaged, managed
to salvage was a radio, Telefunken.

 

But where was I? her son asks.

 

She manages to hide the memory in a smile.
You weren’t born.
It was before your time.

 

She comes to get me in the flames.
She comes to get me in the flames.

 

I wake up, wake up. Alone. Bewildered, alone.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

I tried on a pair of red shoes

 

I tried on a pair of red shoes in London.
The girl said: This is the last pair.

 

Still, I decided to wait.

 

Who can trust these salespeople?
I decided to take a stroll round the shopping-centre.
It was a fine day and plenty to see.

 

When I came back the shoes were gone.
She played ignorant.

 

Almost forty years have passed.

 

No shoes have served me so well.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

Well, if it isn’t you?

 

Well, if it isn’t you?
Goodness, gracious me!
After all these years.

 

Imagine running into you here.
Imagine us meeting here.
Is it really you?

 

Anxiety, old chum!

 

You haven’t changed a bit.
Are you related to these people?

 

Remember when we ruminated, you and me
over mistakes
over victories
over me
and life.

 

And here you are again.
Old chum.
Anxiety himself.
At least I know somebody here.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

The games of children and grown-ups

 

I heard whispers and calls and shouts.
Over there. Upstairs.
In the next room.
Heard whining, even crying.

 

Found you, Kristján!
Found you Anna Jóna! Found you Mummi!
Then silence.

 

A fuzzy tension engulfed me.
Hardly dared to breathe.
Sat absolutely still in the closet.

 

I heard my heart beat in my chest.
Other than that – silence.

 

I listened for a whole eternity
before I got the joke:
Everyone had gone out to play.

 

Me always solo in some closet.
Me always solo under my thick skin.

 

Now I’ve lived a whole eternity.
Once more, I listen.

 

Hear the names of my school-mates being called out.
Names of friends, colleagues, relatives.
Then silence.
Again, this fuzzy tension.

 

And still my heart beats in my chest.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

Neighbour watch

 

I saw him come out through the back.
He shut the door.
He dashed off.
A few strides.
Stopped.
Listened.
Might have heard the phone ring inside.

 

He put his gym bag down.
Dug his hand into his pocket.
Took keys out.
Went back in without shutting the door.

 

Later that night the door flapped.
Eventually it banged shut in the wind.

 

The next day the bag was still in the same place.
It rained around noon.

 

The weather was amazing all July.
We rented a cottage in August.
Then suddenly it was September.
The south-easter always finds a passage between these houses.
But the bag never budged.
The leaves were torn off the trees.
The bag never budged.

 

The snow didn’t settle until mid-January.
The blue bag conspicuous on windless days.
The handle of the badminton racket as erect as ever.

 

Spring came and went.
Lovely days in between.
A year has passed.

 

This morning the bag was gone.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

After the dance

 

So here I hang –
all alone in the cloakroom.
Hang.

 

The attendant, the dear soul,
is still here and asks: What
passion, what
illusions arrived in this coat?

 

No one steps forward.
No one approaches to fill me with life.
No one carries me out into the biting cold city.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

Going home

 

As soon as one destination is reached
the longing for another one is kindled.
This I know.
You’ve told me this before.

 

I know that the course of events cannot be stopped.
I know that the future is fully booked.

 

Being realistic was never one of my strengths.
The ferry won’t wait.
We won’t slow down and turn back.

 

I know all of this.

 

But I forgot to lock the back door
am not sure if I might have left the cooker on
can’t remember that I turned off the tap properly
and we should have, really should have boarded up the windows.

 

Ylva Hellerud)

 

Arrivals

 

The plane landed ten minutes ago.

 

People hurry through the airport.
Buy chocolates and alcohol in the tax-free shop.
Wait at the baggage reclaim.
Go through the green lane.

 

I am waiting outside.

 

A man in a black coat with one carry-on.
A middle-aged woman with three red suitcases.
A married couple with a twin pram, with a trunk,
with a bike, with half their household goods.

 

I am waiting for you.

 

The plane landed half an hour ago.
The plane landed an hour ago.
The last passenger came out.

 

I will always be waiting for you.
The plane landed twenty-four hours ago.
Two days ago.
A week ago.
A month.
Year.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

Confessions of a Lucrative Dreamer

 

I dream of shit. It’s no
secret. I dream of shit.

 

I can fearlessly spend my anticipated
lottery-winnings during the day.
Most nights I dream tons upon tons of shit.

 

Exactly how much shit I dream is nobody’s business.
The curious ask if I have any to spare.
Please allow me to phrase my answer neatly:
I hope I have enough shit for me and mine.

 

Is it then worth the bother to bend down for a coin on the street?

 

Economists may answer how they will, but I want to
use the opportunity to call attention to life’s details.
Who among us has not woken happy
from a dream about the outhouse of his youth?

 

I dream of shit. And some nights the glory
gets the better of me. I’m knee-deep in shit. I drown in shit.

 

And who would then make me out to be a criminal?

 

My investments are pure excrement.
My foreign bank accounts are bullshit.
In all honesty I have nothing but the children.

 

The kitchen asks: How will it be with the next down payment?
How will it be with the electrical bill? How
will it be with the weekend-shopping and the daycare?

 

I won’t be flushed down so easily.
Tonight I may dream of a manure-depot.
Tonight I may dream of the blue canals and the city’s sewage.

 

I dream of shit. It’s no
secret. I dream of shit.

 

(Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl)

 

A full moon in the city

 

I told him where I wanted to go.
I made out as if I knew where I was heading.
The way cannot lie through these narrow bystreets.

 

Now I’ll tell him to stop.
Here I settle the fare.
Could doubtless walk from here.

 

His eyes flash an instant in the mirror.
No question. He’s taking a longer way.
To hell with the money. Other currency is now at play.

 

I spread myself out in the back seat.
Show no signs of fear.
I repeat the destination and mention the main roads.

 

He pretends not to hear. He drives fast.
Takes another way, I’m sure.
Another way to another end on a full moon night.

 

(Katie Parsons)

 

Pizza angoscia

 

The last two pizza slices aren’t the same size.
You say: Help yourself!

 

Should I think only of myself and take the larger?
Should I think only of myself and take the smaller?

 

(Katie Parsons)

 

 

 

Short Intro at the Art Museum

 

At the urinal at the Reykjavik Art Museum

a guy was peering over

at me.

 

Everything

at his bowl
sounded top-form.

.

Holy shit you’ve got a good stream going!

It occurred to me to say.

 

Then it occurred to me to talk

about dysuria

or the warts that I’d gotten on my little friend.

 

So many things occur to you
when somebody looks
over at your urinal.

 

But, all of a sudden
he zipped up
and left.

 

I stood
alone
at my urinal
and couldn’t pee.

 

(Meg Matich)

 

A Late Afternoon Fitting

 

The black pants work.

They suit me well.

They smell good.

I think I’ll take the black ones.

 

The gray ones have a better waistline.

They were made for me.

I’d rather buy them.

Ya.

Maybe I’ll take them instead.

 

The legs are wider than the black.

Maybe I should try them on.

There are so many options.

I don’t actually need to buy pants here.

I didn’t promise anything, I just came to try.

 

Shut up.

 

I like the gray ones

And I want the black ones
But really I can just walk out like I didn’t find anything.

 

There are a hundred shops in the streets.

There are enough pants in the world.

Surely I can imagine something other than black pants.

And I don’t have to settle for gray either.

 

Who’s to say I don’t want something flashier?

 

I can always find another shop.

I can always find another shopping street or even a mall.

I could probably find an entire neighborhood of shops that only sell pants.

 

I don’t need to decide right now.

Never.

There are endless possibilities waiting for me in the street.

 

 (Meg Matich)

 

 

A Moment in Twilight

 

Hot hot, says the hand

the woman snaps back
but that says nothing about how the morsel tastes.

 

He takes a hesitant breath, the man
slips a wood spoon into the pan
and stirs calmly

he’s not sure if he should add any spices

 

He shuffles his feet restlessly
stirs the pan
and senses the woman’s chewing.

 

All at once her eyes pop open

she’s half-smiling

as her eyelids close slightly

allowing the pepper to take her over.

 

It’s hot. It’s good.

 

The woman bursts out laughing, she laughs and laughs.

Then he laughs, the man, he laughs too.

 

It’s as hot as hot should be.

It’s as good as good should be.

It’s evening as evening should be.

 

 

(Meg Matich)

 

 

The Sky from the Parking Lot at the Physiotherpist

 

I hear something akin to applause

up on the eaves

as I cross the parking lot at the physiotherapist.

 

For a split second, I caught a flash of a dove fluttering in a circle
and disappearing.

 

Once upon a time I was always a dove.

Once upon I time I always flew in a flock.

 

I don’t remember exactly what happened then.

 

I only know that now I’m on the way to physiotherapy

with stiff elbows
and that my life and work were other than that. 

 

 

(Meg Matich)

 

 

a wish in the morning

 

let guys kiss guys

let guys kiss gals

let gals kiss gals

let gals kiss guys

 

let guys be guys

let guys be gals

let gals be gals

let gals be guys

 

let a kiss b

let a be b

just be

 

none the harm to me and my herd

none the harm to me and my herd

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

 

Mister Dance

 

One drop of sweat pops out

on your forhead and cries:

Here I’ll be!

 

It shall not want

it shall have company

it shall meet a drop from a forehead – mine

 

Lay your head near mine, mister

and we shall continue the dance

until drop meets drop

 

I shall follow in our dance, mister

I shall lead in our dance, mister

In the dance of two masters

In the dance where drop meets drop

 

Come, come, be my mister

Never, never be my master

 

(Ylva Hellerud)


 

An instant in the dusk

 

Hot, hot says the hand

swayed by the woman

with no indication of how the bite tastes

 

For half a moment he hesitates

then moves the ladle to the pot

stirring slowly

unsure whether more spice is needed.

 

Restive, on tenterhooks

he stirs the pot

registering only how the woman chews

 

All of a sudden her eyes open wide

she almost smiles

then shuts her eyes again

relishing the pepper.

 

This is hot. This is good.

 

The woman laughs out loud, laughs and laughs

Then he laughs, the man laughs, too

 

This is hot as hot ought to be.

This is good as good ought to be.

This is a night as nights ought to be.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

After the storm

 

Strong was the storm

that woke me up last night

threatening to rip the roof off the house

 

Stronger yet was your beathing

it swept away all my worries.

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

An evening in the spring

 

The balcony door on the top floor of the grey house is open

inside a couple arguing

or acting

in a tv-show recalling an ancient myth

 

Who enjoys sex the most, man or woman?

 

The man cries the woman

The woman cries the man

 

You have never been a man and know nothing about it.

You have never been a woman and know nothing about it.

 

Who enjoys life the most, me or you?

 

Noone can answer but a bird, but a poet

A bird that sings, claiming to be a poet

A poet that sings, claiming to be a bird.

 

 

(Ylva Hellerud)

 

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