What good does it do for a person to wake up one morning this side of the new millennium (2013)
Twice under the oak trees of Washington Square Park,
I lost my wits from loneliness among millions of yellow leaves.
After my breakdown, and the urge to run down to 9th Street
and buy a white poodle,
I gathered my frayed nerves together.
Smoked a blue Gauloises
and bought a carton of strawberries.
Exhausted, I took the L-line to Brooklyn
through millions of the city’s unfamiliar corners.
The yellow leaves are still stuck to the soles of my shoes
like fresh dog turds.
I offended the photographer with the old
50s Rolleiflex camera
on Avenue A
when I told him to go to hell
like he was a hustler in the East Village.
In this concrete heaven,
many choirs of devils sing
beautiful songs about
You’re an actual Faroese person?
So you’re a real Faroese person who lives in New York?
You really are Faroese!
From the Faroe Islands?
So what if you’re drunk in old photographs,
and a shadow has always followed you
like a bashful giant,
the darkness at the center
of your soul is your own,
even if the sky
is subject to the laws of gravity,
we go through life
with our internal cameras
panning between the dead,
and we give our regards to the careless
neighbor-lady who died in 1989.
No one can live in reverse.
This morning that big, light blue
butterfly was a caterpillar.
Rivers that run between continents
are like currents,
like the ebb and flow of tides
that don’t think about
which shores they’ve altered during the night.
That’s how it is
with the feeling
like the birds
that lay small green eggs.
It’s gone each morning
when we drink Nescafé and notice
that the red, winter rose
in the flower pot on the windowsill
is starting to bud.
The biological composition fo a drop of seawater is reminiscent of the blood in my veins (2024)
My cold hand touches the rain-soaked
fence, it smells of earth here;
I hear the wings of birds.
I think about insects,
that the word darkness
has a dark sound.
I am virus,
I am weed,
I am that which is mouldy.
I am one
who knows that,
if nothing else,
will one day
just as the aphid
and the killer slug
devour the plant.
I see the paw prints of a cat
and find a wounded robin in the snow;
he looks up at me with his beady eyes
as he bleeds.
I pick him up
and try to warm him in the palm of my hand;
This morning, my father died.
The faint trace of a dawning day;
in a few hours, it will be light.
The ridge top is covered with snow.
I shot a hare up there yesterday;
she kept running,
so I hit her again.
When I found her, half
her head was blown off.
Heavy surf hails the day
stealing into view.
Darkness slowly releases
its stranglehold on us.
It’s rained without cease for days;
the fields, the sea, the sky blur together.
We are a liquiform state of flux.
Yellow fungi sprout from decaying oaks
as the sun goes down;
the bark has fallen off the trees.
I’m interested in the nonhuman,
the insects, the viruses,
everything that leaks and drips
between our porous pores.
I eat a plum,
the juice shoots into my mouth.
In the Metamorphoses, Ovid says:
that nothing organic lasts forever,
that nature is the world’s great renewer
that nothing in the world perishes,
that everything shall change.
Kim Simonsen (1970, Faroe Islands) is a Faroese writer and researcher from the island of Eysturoy. He completed his PhD in Nordic Literature at the University of Roskilde and has authored seven books as well as numerous essays and academic articles. He is the founder and managing editor of Forlagið Eksil, a Faroese press that has published over 20 titles. In 2014, Simonsen won the M.A. Jacobsen Literature Award for his poetry collection Hvat hjálpir einum menniskja at vakna ein morgun hesumegin hetta áratúsundið (What good does it do for a person to wake up one morning this side of the new millennium, forthcoming from Deep Vellum in 2024). His latest poetry collection, Lívfrøðiliga samansetingin í einum dropa av sjógvi minnir um blóðið í mínum æðrum (The biological composition of a drop of seawater is reminiscent of the blood in my veins), was published by Verksmiðjan in 2023.
Randi Ward (Belleville, West Virginia) is a poet, translator, lyricist, and photographer from West Virginia. She earned her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of the Faroe Islands and has twice won the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize. Her work has appeared in Asymptote, Beloit Poetry Journal, Words Without Borders, World Literature Today and also been featured on Folk Radio UK, National Public Radio, and PBS NewsHour. She is a recipient of Shepherd University’s Appalachian Photography Award, and Cornell University Library established the Randi Ward Collection in its Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections in 2015. For more information, visit randiward.com.