Dostoyevsky brings me back to life.
He pops up everywhere –
waving the flag, urging me on.
How he does it, I don’t know.
From time to time, I hear his voice
but when I look around, he turns away
reaching for his pen
from frozen steppes; his winter sheets
the tree-lined streets of St. Petersburg.
Then he is silent, intent, all ears:
as if, out of his wintry depths
he hears me too, urging him on.
From time to time, I look out my window
but there are only waves, trees
a clocktower and some ships.
I see no sign of him but meet his voice
in the sounds of the street:
in the workers’ talk, the factory whistle
and a ship’s horn booming in from the deep.
Note: The above piece has previously appeared in The Anthology of the 13th
Austin International Poetry Festival, 2005.
Strindberg for Lunch
after Karin Bellman & Karl Stead
Strindberg has come over for lunch.
Naturally, we're delighted but
he looks tired and hungry
and sports a one-day beard.
I ask him what's up.
He looks at me with
pale blue eyes
shrugs his shoulders -
"Nothing," he whispers
I try to cheer him up and
set him down at the table
to a smorgasbord feast:
crayfish, salad, pickled herring
topped off with a bottle of aquavit.
his eyes light up the room
he licks his lips and loosens his tie
and points to his friend, Ibsen,
his nose pressed to the window
still in the snow, waiting outside.