Poems by Tytti Heikkinen

A playground is an adult’s idea of childlike fun, loneliness the price paid for it. As a child I had a child’s existence. Bodily, objectively, I existed, undeniable, father listening to childish singing from over here, from the cell phone can, and mother, that rusted original nut all-powerful punctured tire yelling “You had better Crusoe not leave so that nobody has to be alone on Christmas.” When father returned, mother assumed the position in which the back touches the floor and her stomach hurt constantly from attempts to return to the original connection. Dreaming, I secretly wished I could become something else than a reaction method in a situation of fear, an obvious bride on the bed, sand in the mouth and finally invisibility and loneliness, that’s the biggest reason my own child was born. Its head still swung high in the end of the dilation period, then the falling from the edge and the fumbling, supposedly it makes the newborn lose all its social skills and shout publicly its first question: “Who is that stranger?” No consolation for mother’s hurts, no comic book band-aids, just a K-vitamin injection and later other injections, antibiotics, painkillers, tranquilizers and sleep disturbances, divorce, separation anxiety, deprivation, frozen fingers that even the rapidest imagination won’t melt. Because of the child, the house today is filled with Christmas decorations, but at some point in the night the loneliness will hit, and the only way to save us is unending want.


Cold song

Lee’s destiny: she was cheap and easy. She thought
to be a kind of substitute clean. She thought
like soap. Daily she stood without hurry
in the door’s mouth as people traveled by. Nightly she
enjoyed cheap wine. Soon she was completely messed up.
She wet herself with her finger, her well-progressing
birth, she listened to a message that was arriving,
she dressed it with words: the executionee is the events’
most important person, no matter how lowly.
          Outside a crow flew cawing into the universe,
the blind neighbor man remained unnaturally long
at the window, time was truly God’s metal
in the freeze, she rubbed herself hatefully, but
nothing would ever change and her bravery–
          Somewhere sighed. Did she hear singing or was it
wind? Once she had bought intravenous drugs
from a gypsy, a little before falling asleep she had had
a feeling, of making it through everything, she had had
a terrible hunger, she had left to seek food, she
had seen workers on smokebreak, she had yelled:
free lunches don’t exist and will never exist, she had ended up
under many lessons, she had gotten lost in hallways, she
had sneaked into her room, the radiator was on low and
the world so cold so cold, wearing night’s cold song.
Inspiration present, a nightingale singing musical-style
breathe frost, when bright when dim over the snow
through the sky, until dew sets, the cold sand’s
untouched surface.



Sometimes she felt an internal loneliness.

She inched her underwear down and tied the key string
to her waist a little below the tan line. She
pulled on shiny pantyhose, then hid them
under dark straight pants. She put on a coat
to cover her humiliation and block her anger,
which made her tremble throughout, she wrapped
into it like a snow mantle, made from it a solidifying winter
symbol. She thought “She dressed her curse on
like her clothes.”
          She stepped outside and called a taxi. Bitter gall pushed
into her mouth.
	  She slipped carefully through the home door and hurried
to the bathroom. She slapped her face with cold
water and looked in the mirror: heavy evening makeup, cheeks
accented with sun powder, her style sense’s dark side.
	  She mixed oil into the bathwater, used it like
a metaphor for a ritual wash, which used to cleanse
the dead before. The voice in her head sounded now
clearer, many-sided, from it grew other
voices, clear, terrible and low, something deep that
she tried to close into the shower stall.
	  She dried herself. The towel smelled dusty but
warmed. It connected her to childhood, which
seemed now so immaterial.
	  She slept an hour and woke up tired.
She ate a sausage sandwich and brushed her teeth.
Then she remained looking cow-like ahead.
You understand. The soul is just a product, and she sensed
often, how it disappeared.


Seymour Saitzer

Seymour Saitzer wrote into his desk drawer.
His head he customarily kept in the upper drawer.
This way the sphere of the work was defined.

Seymour toyed with his pen. Once he sat
by his big glass windows, while at the same
time a truck sped down the interstate. He wrote:
"A truck speeds down the interstate. Wherefore goes the tar road,
Only the Lord road-knows…"

Seymour Saitzer didn’t have a wife. The loyal
Nehljudof kept all his domestic affairs.

Seymour laughed when I arrived to borrow
a book from him. He rose from his wheelchair and said:
"Bruno Gröning. Every book begins with words."
Then he exited and left me on the threshold 

standing. I could hear only quiet moaning
behind the WC door. I thought about how luckily
I was neither old nor alone. 

Sometimes Seymour circulated in restaurants just
like he knew he couldn’t join conversations.
Then he sat at the table by the window,
looked absently at the road and with one move his glass
emptied. I still remember well how he sat,
face pale, fingers pushed into the ears.
I sat smoking on the next balcony
a short distance from the corner of L and watched
him. The day’s paper rested on the table’s white

But this was long before the great bloodbath.


Brains Escape Far Away

Brains control our motions, fill
the horizon to its brims.
Muscular, air-inflated brains,
neuronal marriers of the micro- and macrocosm
perfect gods
dense and serious in a way that doesn’t fall for cheap
effects, like the heart or IBM.

Today my brains began to wither away.
I no longer recall multiplication tables or what I used to read.
My brains melt
my brains melt
and two suited men arrive at the coat check.
Thanks everyone for yesterday,
don’t feel bad.
Brains just escape far away,
yep, yep
they need a lot of nourishment
they ate 13,000 rolls and now they feel lazy.

Will we have reality or rest and dreaming?
Brains don’t separate the real from the phantom pain,
so there is no “knowledge,”
no heaven divisible by ten,
d’apres moi and bye-bye.

Luckily it’s already evening like we know
we know it.


The Fountain of Statistic

Where the left-behind, there night. Count all
the falling tiles: their ability to throw themselves supposes
an extraordinarily clever support structure.
Water is a diminutive exchange of gases
in the river, lost also. The smallest flame in this
environment would be extravagant.
Imagination has a self-illuminating aura,
grandiose perhaps, but borrowed all
the same. Foreplay’s purpose is to ascertain
that nobody flees. That’s why I like
your touch, it’s like I’m assembling myself
Do you find something in this with which
to agree? When the varnish gets
to melting a little, we have a lot
to hold on to. Don’t fret, it’s easy to lose
your way, the equator does shift.
And nobody else gets an encore, those weren’t reserved
for the chorus.


Tytti Heikkinen

Tytti Heikkinen is the author of two full-length collections of poetry in Finland: Täytetyn eläimen lämpö (Taxidermied Animal's Warmth), nominated for a best first book prize, and Varjot astronauteista (Shadows From Astronauts). Tytti's poems are search engine-based, and so utilize new media discourse to investigate the dilemma of authorship. She has appeared in translation in At-Large Magazine and is forthcoming in the Canadian magazine PRECIPICe. Tytti currently studies literature in the University of Helsinki.

Niina Pollari

Niina Pollari is a writer and translator working in Brooklyn. Her poems and translations have appeared in Bateau, Post Road, Weave, Chaffey Review, and elsewhere. In 2009, the San Francisco-based press Birds of Lace put out her chapbook, Fabulous Essential. She may be reached at [email protected].

Copyright (c) Tytti Heikkinen, 2008 and 2009. English translation copyright (c) Niina Pollari, 2010.