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Poems by Peter Ola Thorbiörnson

 

art

 

With impatient hands she’s kneading red clay,

flattens out all logic.

   Then she asks my brain to decline 

in kneaded sculptures 

of waves between Mahon and Barcelona.

 

She points with muddy finger at the window,

informs me: we need money again!

   The crooked saxophone meow like a cat: new mouthpiece! 

The gypsies are laughing from the floor below. 

El arte es una droga preciosa.

 

 

 

Gloria

 

I. 

February. Gloria is enjoying her view 

from the hotel room. 

The wet hand of a palm tree 

is trying to catch 

grey clouds sailing over the sea. 

   The rain patterns on the terrace, 

gives me rhythms and accompaniment

to her monologues.

Obscure fragments of life.

Everything and nothing.

 

II. 

Your memories move into the crack 

to the shapes of a dreaming landscape. 

There the fruits of the park lie in piles. 

Have you waited so long? 

Where are our sorrows? 

   But you catch the backside of the moon 

under your eyelids. 

We are forgotten in each other.

We are paler, silent.

 

listen to the poem in Swedish here 

 

 

 

the hostess 

 

I
It
's already August. In the garden

the ripening apples 

are caught by dark green fingers.

Pilgrims enter the the bar next to the church.

   And there the new guest hostess has written 

her love poems in a notepad with red lines. 
I read them and get inspired.
She's open like the sky. 

 

II

But you sink deeper into the mystery. 
It's all right, my friend,
though you look so forsaken 
there below the altar rails.

   Jesus is not the one you first expected.

The light is not light yet. It's just furious
darkness and loneliness and the narrow road
where the end seems near.

 

III 

God is not more than God alone. 
And in the abandoned pilgrimage chapel a bunch

of old monks are singing to their untuned harps!

They have all gone astray.

   Yes, love is the truth that will set us free.

And you are such a beautiful woman.
The priests' prayers echoes 

through your loveliness.

  

 

 

love is God 

you see him in a bird’s flight

south to north

east to west

rising

falling

   you see her in the trees’ abundance

of leaves and bark and fruits

you see it in a sudden smile of one who loves

another who’s hating that she’s loving

a third who stumble

a fourth who dies

a fifth who wakes up

 

love is God

you lift a stone and it is there

   and who can not believe?

who will not hope?

so am I one of them, a doubter?

   living is God

and is in the living

the miracles of memory

the origin of light

where one is alone in her room

where two or three are gathered

   he makes them blaze

smoking flames

 

and he will console the inconsolable

she is in the feverish

the blind will see

the deaf will hear

lovers love

and hate to hate

   though they are hating

and longing

 

first he comes to the children

she’s in their play and struggle

following them easily

in words that are said

for hope and strength

courage and forgiveness

reconciliation with pain and death and life

   it is with the believers and the disbelievers

as the secret of love

flowing light

when the darkness is darkest

it’s where you couldn’t imagine

 

you split a piece of wood and he is there

you are looking for her in the garden

where you heard her voice

you knock on the locked door

   or it comes like a thief in that single night when you forgot to lock the door

love is God

in your gratitude he will speak the words you understand

but then forget

in your lonely grief

 

she listens to you when no one else can understand

in a light breeze

a pitiful tone

a little grain

a glow

a raft across the river

mountains throwing themselves into the sea

then it’s there

   in the long weary days it whispers

and you walk out the door

put the stone in your pocket and proceed

 

listen to the poem in Swedish here  

 

 

 

or why we met

 

stay a while

with me

stay a while

with you

a while stay

 

I don’t know how

or why we met

but stay here

 

a while

 

you are dressed

in nothing else than skin

your skin

and hair

your hair

 

and your kisses

are the languages you speak to me

But I was only a child.

Now, suddenly, I grow into a man

grabbed by a surprise

 

why me?

why here?

why now?

I’m yearning

for nothing else

than you

you who are

the sensation

the rhythm

the fire 

 

so please

stay a while

 

 

 

the poem and the Light

to Yoko Ono, October 2014

 

I.

In the beginning was the poem and the Light.

The Light was the Mother, the Mother of Art and Colours.

The Poem was the Mother of Art and Colours and Light.

And everything created is created by her.

 

II.

And it was Life and light to the People.

The light that’s shining in the darkness

Well, you know darkness has no colours.

Darkness has no power. But Light overcomes darkness, fear and death.

 

III.

And a man came. His name was John, a guitarist.

His mission was to become Witness of the Light,

the true light that’s shining on every human.

In the world he was John. But the people didn’t welcome him.

 

IV.

He was killed outside his house by a gunman.

But his dear wife survived by the Light.

A shot by a gun cannot kill the Light.

The Love of John and his wife is True Light.

 

V.

So what can she do, the Angel of True Light?

Yes, what can she do? Imagine Peace? Love?

What can an Angel do in this world of liars?

What can a lonely Angel do in this world?

 

 

 

a cold November night   

song lyrics for miss Kite

 

I.

 

It was a cold November night.

I had almost lost my sight,

when I drove my Cadillac to miss Kite.

 

She said she had a book for me

and a cup of tea.

Yes, she wanted me to read

and check if she’d written right.

 

                             And the moon comes up.

                             The moon is up.

                             A lovely light.

 

                             Yeah, the moon comes up

                             The moon is up

                             I’d never drop miss Kite in that light!

 

II.

 

She lived in a Motel,

I’ve heard it was a kind of Hell.

The dark red moon led me straight

to that Shell Motel.

 

She sat there in the Bar,

it had already gone so far,

some glasses of booze too soon

before I rang the Motel Bell.

 

 

III.

 

Miss Kite’s life is such a mess

for our Lord to bless,

her father was a junkie

and her mother was always drunk. 

 

When she was a baby girl

she got no love at all.

It was a fight, day and night.

Her parents had sunk into the very very punk.

 

                             Miss Kite was sad,

                             she said; ”I’ve lost ev’rything I had!

                             Do you know how it is to live my messy life?”

                             Little miss Kite, what a night!

 

IV.

 

Yes, it was a cold November night

and I had almost lost my sight,

when I drove my Cadillac to miss Kite.

 

The book she gave to me

told the story of her life.

Such a messy world, horrific fight!

 

                             And the moon comes up, a dark red moon,

                             a magic night with miss Kite

                             The crimson moon, a lovely smile,

                             and miss Kite in that dark red light!

 

 

 

 

the expected money

 

one morning when the sun fades, the leaves are freezing,

the river stiffens

the expected money didn't come:  

 

we walk up to the church to beg

(and you with your ragged shoes!)    

and there are many other poor beggars  

 

some of them without hands, without arms

and when the church bells are ringing,

their loneliness gets so revealing, bizarre  

 

in the eyes of a crow

I see the blackest death shining and I say:

"I'm glad you're alive,

 

that you are not owned by the crows or the church bells"    

a sudden rain slaps down the leaves, soaked by the water, flat on the ground

the old priest opens the gates

 

 

 

 

numbers are down

Where are you?, I’m out of breath

in this icy lonesome night, in the hour of death

The Telephone Lady, the Voice with a Smile

is telling me that numbers are down for a while

 

Where are you?, I’ve many things to tell

I’m ringing the bell, I can’t sleep in this hotel

In the night I’m cold as a colourless stone

Will you charge my love account? I’ll charge my phone!

 

I have my Buddha Statue and my Fairy Wishing Stones

but my longing for you sounds like twenty trombones

The Telephone Lady, the Voice with a Smile

is telling me that numbers are down for a while




gifts of freedom


When I came to Italy,

you came there too and was very hip.
Yes, we loved you madly,
singing you and celebrating you.

And when I asked you why you came,
you used a painting to weave the story 
of your own faith.
Oh, I felt divided, not fully Italian.

So, thank God for the gifts of freedom!
You seek it in the human face 
or in the form of jewellery,
or the crucifix!

Your paintings are of sky and water 
and earth and sun and love,
always creating laughters for us,
your not so talented team. 

I love you maybe. 
I love your videos, 
and I love your magazine.
I will not miss an issue.
 
 
 
my name on the world is salt
 
my name
on the world is salt
wich remains

when the sea dries out
like laughter that came there
like tears that were there
like life that is given when
sweat is mixed

between the lovers' skin
is my name
on the world salt
 


a completely new environment

the birch trees are becoming greener
and there are also apple trees
with flowers smelling so sweet
   and yellow butterflies
and a red painted fence

you are collecting
shells
and pressed flowers
and a thirty years old Chevrolet
you sit in the back seat singing your songs

you say:
"I'll write a book
about my years
at the State University"

yes, I know that you are thinking very much
about that book
and that you aren't at all (which I'm doing so often)
thinking about the universe

so, why should you do that
when you feel the freedom, the sun, the spring
and the hot pasture
and your and my little love story
here in the middle of life

II.
You say you want to find a completely new environment
to focuse on your writing
   I say: "Ukraine,
I read about a farming village there  ... "
  
you're interrupting me: "I need cities,
big cities, but not New York or
New Delhi"

I say:
"It's soon, inevitably night
the earth rotates
no matter how we move,
   but nowadays"
I add,
"with the help of aviation
we would always be able to stay in daytime,
but it would mean
forever flying"


III.
in a veil of silence
the clouds are moving
   the house is in perfect disorder
your eyes, they're walking up to me,
then from me
and the dew has dried from your toes

bird wings are prepared
to eagerly fly or hunt
   seven roofing tiles are missing
(from my point of view)
   and you, you're resting by the riverside
extending and stretching
like I want to do
in this world

the birch trees are pulsating,
puffing steam 
in a very strange way
   the cat overturns a vase of
glittering flowers from the table
the blue sky is reflecting
you, expanding you

even further beyond
the stallion is melting down into the bushy grass
the window was opened by nobody
no, it wasn't even a breeze!
   are you coming soon?
the round and sweaty sun is approaching
resolving the clouds
from the shed a hen is clucking by mistake
but only once
are you coming?
 
 
 
it's perfect 

it's perfect everything
that happens, do you hear?
the mountain complains: - save me, I'm sinking!  
 
the mountains turn into sea and the sea turns into rock
and everything is caressed
by the wind from south  
 
and you, with your bare feet are walking
so gently across the border
between the mountains and the sea
 
you, with your bare feet are walking
so gently across the border
between the mountains and the sea
 
 


 
one of hundreds of thousands of diamonds

a hammer strikes
over the sky
and the rain is beating
against the rows of apple trees in the orchard
   you're kicking
against my hand
through the skin of a rounded belly
yes, she weighs you
in her interior
which is growing

the rain comes
with you
you rest
in a raindrop
far up there
   and you're falling
down to us
here on earth
to a drop
in her
   and there you're swimming around
one of hundreds of thousands of diamods

 


 
the orphanage nurse 
 
Seagulls are hovering. From the salty sea
the air moistens. 
On the hazy horizon 
you can see white sail boats gliding towards 
   the outer archipelago. 
 
The little boy is peering, the nursemaid's dress 
is dazzling when they are out on 
the patio. Light green birch trees
are whizzing. One more day to grow     
   and take of each other. 

A lukewarm rubber teat. And the boy's neck 
rests confidently on childish breasts. She lifts 
him to the cot,
opens the window,     
   watching and dreaming.
 
 
 

 
a circle?
to Joseph Brodsky
after his reading at Mosebacke, 14 September 1993
 
 
a circle?
a colour?
I hear that whispering, swinging
no, it's not red or green
it's not round
 
a hand hesitating
just one look, no more
the mystery of the red globe
the mystery of life on earth
and a mystery of love itself
reflected in the light blue eyes
of a mistress
 
the question
not the answer
 
fragile surface
the depth of ability
the goodness of the will
regarding the end
constantly the same amount
in unexpected shapes
 
catch - wait
catch again
eternal cooling memory
inexhaustible
harmony
 
 
 
 
oh, happy days
to Marie-Christine, who lived in a boat in Caen 1980
 
you tell me about your life in a boat,
yes, it's some kind of battleship
from the old war
capsizing at the beach 
in Normandy    
   
and here we come, trying to be forever happy!    
leaving all that heavy heavy stuff    
and then counting the days   
until we can return 
 
again
in any moment!
and highlight everything
to the corners of anything    
   
oh, happy days    
   
we are the hearts of hearts
 
 
 

 
 
so close that I'm touching them
 
 
outside my window 
a flock of ravens are mocking in a tree 
the shimmering October sky 
is falling down on my bed 

my heart is echoing you 
in the cold air out there 
under cheerfully twinkling stars 
I'm alone in your open hand 

 
yes, and they come closer, 
so close that I'm touching them  
a reptile from the past will bite me
I cannot dream no more
 
but if you come back to me
from the narrow alleys where you live
then my door is not a door
when you open it and enter
 
 
 
 
 
in the otherwise green blue park  
 
 
I.  
 
the lane to the barn is getting overgrown
since we came here
the loudspeakers is crying out those Strauss waltzes
you bought at the station in Vienna  
   now I dont know anything about life
than that it gives me a chance to see you
and keep wondering about it in your arms  
 
under the weeping birches,
near the ditch,
the milk cows are mooing
the sea is also mooing from a far distance,
is it calling for us?  
   the gaggling hens are staring at us
with bold curiosity
and the randy rooster is walking back and forth,
back and forth  
 
did you talk to the priest?
but he was just telling you his usual:
"who is asking now again?"  
   the lane is getting overgrown
since we came here,
since we came here
and I have no answers,
just more questions  
 
 
II.  
 
but now the slate stones are gliding
over the windowsill
the nights jazz is bringing you new great offers
and it’s carrying you up to the window side
do you want another apple?  
   now you are just twenty again,
or thirty?
its so nice to no longer be a regular man
and the one who wants to build
a new tower of Babylon  
 
you say: hanging gardens!
hundreds of phinxes
I say:
I remember when I saw you the first time,
just when the red birds woke up  
   you took a walk there
in the otherwise green blue park,
down by the pond where the birch catkins grow
yes, I was there too  
   you said, we have to leave this place now
I said: but I dont know where you live
come, follow me to Africa!  
 
 

III.  
 
 
but the old old oak tree is shaking,
its dropping leaves
and the roses whither
they’re falling from a cracked vase  
   the beach edge draws a line between dream and hope
the lighthouse lights up a different line,
a long avenue through the archipelago  
 
youre smiling
youre soft
you’re getting ready to forget
millions of ideas about the future  
   despite of the darkness you find 
a four leaf clover
and this interrupts us
provides new concentration  
   unexpectedly,
in the middle of the black clouds,
we see a glimpse of Mars  
   now were travelling,
finally
the waves are lifting from the sea, 
meeting the rain  

and everything around  
is meeting your expectations
we dont need a journey anymore
 
 
 

 
Catherine dresses in white
Nice 1979  
free interpretation of the song in Swedish, Fia klär sig vit
 
 
I.
 
Catherine dresses in white 
its getting dark in the city  
   in the middle of Nice
at a nice hotel
   she dresses in white  
she’s going to take a walk
to the Promenade
 
 
I have never been rich
but Catherine sang and we got a thousand francs  
   yes people like wine
and great music
now she’s living like a bon vivant
 
 
A gentleman from Orleans
brought us to the casino in Cannes  
   he lost more than hundred thousand francs
that he could have given to a penniless man
 
 
II.
 
Catherine dresses in black
with violets in her hair and high heel shoes  
   I say, lets go!
she asks, where?
let’s try to find out where monsieur Mao lives!
 
 
Would you like to come with me
though it’s so messy, cold and gray
    who else will lend us more money?
now we’ve done what we could
 
 
The police took my guitar
   and you have fever and so hoarse
yes your face is blazing
let’s go to our Chinese!
 
 
III.
 
And she dresses in red!
the sun comes up
the night is leaving Provence  
   the sun is my abundance
in my poverty and decadence
 
 
And the sea is for everyone
who likes to dive or fly over the waves
   but the industry has used the sea as a pissoir
yes, the industry has given us just pollutions
 
 
Then in her flaming dress
Catherine is walking along the beach
   she looks curiously at the town
with a withered rose in her hand
 
 
 
 
 
the burnt house
from a Croatian village 1993
 
 
the burnt house is gaping
in all directions    
   you are sitting there
on the scorched stone staircase    
   and you’re looking at a German shepherd dog
lying on his back    
   in the sand
he’s staring at the yellow dusk
 
does anyone live here?
   some person?
or a plant?
 
without a doubt I'll desert
into your abandoned heart
 
 

 
 
Queenie  

in the old part of the city
in a narrow alley 
where not even the police 
can find the way 
   she's coming up to me
wearing some kind of fancy dress
her curly ebony hair
fake jewelry around the neck 
 
I've been thinking of her
since we met
four years ago 
where the desert is kissing the savannah
   and women are bringing 
water from a river far away
in large pots they wear on their heads  
 
but it's on the hooker street 
I see her again
   she says,
this is the only way for a girl like me
to earn money
my mother and father at home aren't well  
 
but dear Queenie, I say
you told me you were going to study
to a nurse
   you were one of the best
in your class at school
there under the camel thorn acacias
in your village  
 
she says,
I walked through the desert
until I got a place in a tent 
on the shore of the promising blue Mediterranean
   but they beat me and raped me
I'm no longer the sweet girl you remember  
 
I sailed in a rubber boat to Italy
and they promised to give me a job
at a local café in a town
   but I was locked in a small country house
among the lilac vineyards
   I could hear the goat bells ringning
from the hills
and they beat me and raped me  
 
I fled one night
when they forgot to lock the door
   I rambled so hungry and thirsty
many miles
until I arrived at a church
near a sleeping volcano
   and she says,
Jesus is my saviour  
 
I say,
but how can I leave you here
among these delirious monsters
in this cold and sickening Europe?
   I don’t want to know
that you're going to die so young,
so soon  
 
and suddenly she smiles
she takes my hand
   and her dark diamond eyes
are starting to tell me
hundreds of African tales
   and she says,
does Jesus really save girls like me?
 
 
 

 
 
 

 

Interpreted from Swedish by the author

Published by Mosebacke Etablissement at the Södra Teatern Stockholm, Sweden 

Poems by Peter O. Thorbiörnson in Swedish here 

 

© Peter O. Thorbiörnson, estraden.org, Sweden 2017