Berg; translated by Johannes
We sat at opposite ends of the table. Riffraff were all around us.
The whites of his eyes glittered. A sexwoman caught, with a desperate
hunger, his surgeon's gaze. That night he would tear his hands through
her flesh material, her teats and the sloppy skin folds. Her herpes
tongue was already smearing his jugular with fox secretion. The liplarvae
writhed, dying among the butts in the ashtray. I looked on. My vulva
ached. The monstrosity wound itself around the intestines, gnawed
lightly on the frail surface of the belly bladder with its small nip
teeth, and wanted out. Outside the window, the streets rumbled. I
hallucinated a bit, saw tall trunks fall and crack far out in the
woods. The rotgut throbbed venomously against the intestinal system.
I downed another glass - finally the monstrosity was anesthetized
on the bottom of the creek. Then we waited for weeks that never came,
while the ages rolled their cogwheels over our heads.
When I came home, there was a little snail stuck to my throat. On
the street corner I had seen a flock of marrowpierced, skinstarved
silvercats tear a dead fox to shreds. Alba slept in the sheets, pale-blue
naked. From the ceiling hung red, almost glowing spider webs. Through
the water-damaged walls, condensation bubbled out. I could feel the
brain scream out for mental activity, but the intestines were up to
my throat and it was impossible to gather my thoughts in the heat.
The drunken screams of the street devils and hooligans in the street
still echoed against the windows. Suddenly Alba was awake and placed
her kisses on my incomprehensibly alert, throbbing body. Her breath
felt cool as a corpse, as with the lemurs. The mirrors and glass lay
shattered in a pile on the middle of the floor: also here, the anxiety
had burst forth.
The door opened. He came home. A bird sprawled in the sky. Now they
stitched in the doll of mine, now they tore apart her mouth until
her lips almost smiled. Alba bled nose-blood, I pretended to sleep,
but the monstrosity woke up: I bit hard into the sheets. His hands
were still soaked in female spores and fox juices, but also something
else, and I understood that he had gone too far, much too far. Alba
still lay on her back. I screamed into the pillow. Alba lay on her
back and the thin blood ran slowly, darkly out of her nostrils. He
smelled of snail acid, the white of his eyes glittered. He took out
the nice, long staff; the nice, long staff of glass. It had a little
prong at the tip, a little fiber beak. Then I relaxed. The booze abated;
the monstrosity grew still. I smiled into the pillow, and maybe waited
for the final drubbing.
The sun bladder hangs high and red: the fever scrotum weighs heavy.
The trucks roar down below, the mastiff dog gurgles and growls and
tugs at its chain, and it seems like the metals of this powerful city
are exploding with anxiety. The amphibians suffer burned and flayed
in the hangars, and we hear their shrill throat sounds. The substances
are fermenting, the throats are corroding and bubbling, things are
rumbling and crumbling behind us. Adrian is carrying the blind snake
patiently cautiously in the muddy palms of his hands. Out of a slit
in the wool, pink flesh is glowing. But we walk dazzlingly toward
the still-smoking planet that lies torn and crushed by the wall ruin
at the edge of the city. In the harbor, the heavy ships sing and the
steel chafes screams. The oil the magma boils slowly in the basins,
the cisterns. Adrian carries the blind snake and maybe he smiles.
We walk outward and he maybe smiles.
Where one by one you turned my faces up
toward the sun's surface
and drank them like deer water.
Aase Berg is one of the most important young poets
in Sweden right now. She's got four books out. She's the editor of BLM,
a leading literary journal, and Vertigo, a publisher of pornographic
writings, and she frequently writes articles for national newspapers
and journals. She's a founder of the surrealist group "Det Stora
Saltet" ("The Great Salt"). Johannes translations of
her poems have previously been published in Bitter
Penthouse, and they will soon be published by Octopus
on the web.
Göransson was born in
Sweden but has lived in the US for a long time. His poems have been
in recent or upcoming issues of Salt
Amerika, and the Denver Quarterly. And he has an MFA from Iowa Writers'