:: Article

Seven Poems

By Martin Glaz Serup.


A scantily-clad woman has a drink / from the car you can stare / her nipples stick out
public space / TV / yeah yeah so what fuck me for money
desire is commercialized through and through / it has to sell us something / again and again we have to buy their shit

The traffic is unreal to live is necessary / but hardly enough / vests and badges
hold us back self-confidently / the adults wave / to schoolbags / we want someone to grab hold of us
and actually have something to say / the newspaper violence / journalist / that’s a dirty profession
most of them are / this morning I started crying too

What you can’t see you can imagine / if what happened to that child happened to mine
I would I would I woulduh do something myself / fortunately in a way I was stopped
by a red light a yellow bus came past / and a representative of the world’s poor with a looseleaf binder
under his arm / and a badge and a quilt jacket

So that was what I dreamt about / to come home to / when I was in Vietnam
the nights were mostly heavy good massive deep the sleep the hard beds / on the train to Hanoi / it was a nuisance
to go back and forth in the narrow passages / with my pointed hat



I have the impression that what I think and feel is way behind / it’s boring / it bores me
and the majority of the voters / you can’t read a poem from 1968 without the guerillas in Vietnam being mentioned
Saigon’s suburbs / the drunkenness continues, the torture, the triumph / today only the proper names are changed
and China’s role in the global economic warming

I no longer want to go anywhere but that’s a lie / I don’t want to be
buried in the daily administration / that’s a luxury / we enjoy in this part of the world

What do you know about the world what can you know
what do you think is important to know about the world

Saarikoski writes about the new city sectors in the woods / that they are capitalist society’s beautiful footprints how amusing to imagine / capitalism / walking around in good spirits
that you could capture it if you wanted / that you could pick something out of its paw
and be its friend



That was a boring seminar! / it’s raining
everytime I see a tree I want to write about it
the way it stands there / in the rain

I felt sick to my stomach when I read about the new cut-backs in the papers today
maybe it was just a hangover / I felt nausea
you can easily get the idea that there’s nothing else in the world but marital problems / and pedophiles

The room they’ve given me is cold / but richly furnished
anyone who seizes the telegraph wire and national press can lead a great nation
the ceiling is high / there’s noise from the other rooms / the water in the pipes hisses like gas

I am a danger to all the married women I know / because I am unhappy
and I don’t want to be / suddenly one day it happens anyway
the snowstorm everyone we talk to talks about strikes our cabin too



The slightly sour air in the room where I sat all day and read
Lyn Hejinian / writes suddenly: “Are your fingers in the margin.”
I look in fright to see / desperation is so unbecoming

I send several telegrams out to nothing
or letters and emails / textmessages / while I wait for the next line
wait for time to pass / by itself / but time does not pass by itself

You need to have something with you / a kind of basis / a kind of fuel
an old friendship for example / that can grow older / something to look back on
I wash the floor air out clean up the kitchen it helps nothing

I’ve begun looking at people’s faces / people I know have been through the same thing
or something like / the same thing / can you see something / did they come out on the other side as they say
and what can they say to that / when I ask / and ask and ask
and feel I’m getting nowhere / I’m just getting older



I’m spilling coffee as you can see / black lakes / in the municipality of the text
I don’t really think I can survey my life / but it’s going fine

No poem but seaview / and woods and beach and factories of a sort
with their chimneys and their light / the light is filtered in the trees’ branches

A receptionist slips in and presses a scrap of paper to the hand of someone / waiting to go to the microphone
I’m waiting to be free of this boring seminar / someone is probably dead
the plastic pen lies black and ready on its free advertising pad

What is life for / a wife a couple of kids a job a career / one husband more and an affair
an illness another job and a black Mazda with license plate number VT 31 443
it should be moved immediately / there’s a truck that has to pass



Between the houses the trees grope upward / the trees / nature
that is a place to start / it is like the economy
invisible and everywhere / a huge system / like love

I love you / I really love you
as I stand here in the dark in the rain on the street
I wish it would rain / and the streetlights
dance in the dark water / shining on every surface

The yearning would be real in that way like in a movie
a bad movie / depressed / or singing in the rain
it is embarrassing to witness something bad
but everyone else laughs / and laughs

Existence in itself gives rise to a form of embarrassment
the machines that don’t work / and me standing staring at them
in a humming copy and printer room / it vibrates
it’s my job I’m just like waiting to get OFF

But I never get off / from myself / and the others
the bell never rings time / I am skeptical but it couldn’t be them / my colleagues
who is behind the horrifying invisible camps
that in fifty years we can claim we knew nothing about

My misfortune / their misfortune / has no human cause
it isn’t people who do that to people
it’s an automaton / a system / a bureaucratic principle / a divine
love / has nothing to do with us

I am so unhappy / on the other hand there’s news from the bank the first of every month / the orange window envelope
lovingly there in the corridor / traffic laws exist to be broken / not to be ignored
we stop at the traffic pole / when the light changes we start again
with our poetic euphemisms / and all our talk about realism / we must be realistic

Refugee center / care center / and so on / and so forth
over again / like the light that brightens and dampens all at once / rain’s pissing down
how can I ever get a hold of it

Anti-abortionists on TV / with signs / furious muslims / with signs / proud gays and dykes
everything has subtitles / so those in the back can see too
the advertisement is everywhere / such a poor comfort / with its




On the radio I hear that the Danish foreign minister / Per Stig Møller / is dead
so he had a body after all / that hardly makes a difference / for the Danish economy
the Danish economy doesn’t kill / very many any more / anyway not in Denmark
anyway not outside the care centers

I wanted to read a free newspaper in the train but the light was bad / that is not a good light
I dreamed I’d bought a café by the water / everything shone in that dream
like the lamps in the Metro that glowingly declare HERE / we have put another couple of meters behind us

The children’s snowsuits are covered with traffic pictures / they have to be picked up at four / there are cars in every color
what do you think when you see all that transport / that the world is also a progress of associations
that things happen because they suggest something / else

I think about the TV news and its difficulty getting from one / item / to the other
the entertaining interludes must glide smooth and witty / but seldom do
existence hacks at it / even if you can glimpse a beginning middle and end

Personally I can’t see myself out of this / it is no help / that the problems are banal
how will it all end / that we know / it is the other / the others / all that in-between
I am so afraid of

Martin Glaz Serup is a poet, children’s book writer and editor. His poetry collections include The Face of Shyla, The Field and Mayor God. The above excerpts come from Trafikken Er Uvirkelig (The Traffic Is Unreal) – translated by Thomas E. Kennedy.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, October 3rd, 2010.