“Planets in Their Tracks” and Other Poems

Translated from Finnish by Niina Pollari


a breath without another comes back to silence
and rooms have room again
but when the nightly hues shift
to dark plum, treacherously kind,
then pain clears away all other feelings
and that opening shrinks

rain succumbing in warm waves against the window
you have to press your face against the glass
to see its obvious definition:
easily broken

planets move along their tracks in wet-looking clumps
like stupid girls

stupid girls

the order of things is too far to be comprehensible



in the house where charred walls form
a charred forest, there lives an arsonist
and when the police escort him away
the whole heart disease wing gathers to watch
because hunger is a quality
that unites all life forms
says the boy at a nearby table
fingers drumming against the surface

tonight the girl wants to go home alone
and so becomes the victim of a robbery in the park
she can see shadows from joggers on the nearby trail
rescue is within arm’s reach
like it is for everyone at all times
like a sliding door, glass but locked
the girl stares at a park tree
at its fruit-laden branch as it bows
the mugger’s hand is over her mouth
and she kisses it lightly,
in secret



on a riverbed there lies a dead drunk
a faraway look in his eyes

placid but empty
like the broken bottle

he still reaches for
the rain washes mud from his face

a cop listens to the quiet rustling
then takes the bottle away

he has dry, chapped lips
years ago he had a secret affair

but not secret enough
as per the consequences

the windshield frosts over from cold
and reveals a face drawn on it earlier

the situation doesn’t change
no matter how many times

you wipe the glass
another day comes, another period of wakefulness

or some state like wakefulness
mouths twisting against one another

and melting together
forgetting is the slow rusting-through of memories

but rust is a kind of burning too
without visible flame or smoke

the shower can wet your head and make it slippery
but the water is the end result of a burning

so totally burnt
that it can’t burn any more

in the early morning
the city stinks like urine

its nethers made of barbed wire
the light from windows reveals couples

in shameful positions
someone springs up from the couch

someone else on that someone’s heels
then the energy-saving lamp

and its strange and simple silence
no more warmth

only light