Poems by Thomas Boberg

From The Horse Eaters (Hestæderne, 2010)

Hands that clench into fists around the pure air
and dance on the dirty wall in the light from the halogen lamp
and resemble childhood that bizarre valley
hands that recreate when you least expect it
I who stood suddenly on the mountain with
antlers caught in gigantic fluttering sheets
that’s what hands can do for me when I
least expect it and the sheets dance across
my childhood’s mountains when later on I left the
bizarre valley I had to return to it in my beds
and reunite with figures from the valley of rock and moss
and wax and clothes-lines and yellow houses and fluttering
white sheets that descend from the skies and land on
the long trains puffing through the mountain’s black
tunnels and out into the adult valleys where much later I
walked about inflamed with a wild discontent for not
having seen my project through to its end and get drunk
once and for all until I came to the next valley
that was supposed to close the gap behind you why can’t you
always say that you don’t feel up to the tensed up lips
that keep nipping at your ears even though they are
gone your friends and the mountains too appear to be dead
insofar as they no longer remember you or in any case
died for he who moves about on the last side of the
electric fence that separates you from the
valley where you left your mother being of two disastrous minds
because you didn’t understand how something really was
because you couldn’t say anything else I said and wash my
rugged hands in the pink soap you buy here
with us where the vaccine for horse disease has long since
expired and people have actually started dying like horseflies
you damn well have other things on your mind but suddenly
your hands start looking for themselves in bizarre
patterns on the dirty wall in the light from the halogen lamp
your memories are copulating ghosts love your mother.

All it takes is

All it takes is one more gleam
Suddenly there’s nothing left to stand on ceremony.
The entire mess is pelted with light.
It’s not so hard to understand.
The sound of a train going back.
The sound of a train going forth.
All it takes is a sunbeam.
The story twists itself for no reason
and snatches itself from behind.
A loop has been created, its spring, despair
is a blanket of grass exposed by the sun.

Dictatorial Poem

All the people who can’t be on the promenade
All the people who have forgotten where they came from
All the people who dropped their keys
All the people who can’t join the club
All the people who can’t be at the tip of my pen
All the people who don’t know the scorpion’s tactics
All the people who pass each other by
All the people who are on time but don’t make it there
All the people who don’t want to experience tomorrow
All the people who stay even though the train is waiting
All the people who can’t be where they are

To one who was lost

The lense is my eye and my weapon
He, on the other hand, lacked a filter
He interpreted his surroundings
He tried to understand what he was living
because he was afraid of anything he couldn’t make out
wanted to transform himself into a fang
and slash himself in his heart while he slept
He was nervous in large crowds
and my very obvious cynicism
made him feverish
God be with you, he said
the day before he vanished


Thomas Boberg

Thomas Boberg (b. 1960) is an award-winning Danish poet and travel writer. He was nominated for the Nordic Council's Literary Prize on two occasions, in 1999 for Americas, an account of his travels in North and South America, and in 2006 for Livsstil, a collection of poems. Boberg lived for many years in Lima, Peru, where a collection of his poems, Poesía, was recently published by Lustra Editories. Boberg is also the author of a novel, Flakker, and, most recently, Hesteæderne (The Horse Eaters), a widely acclaimed sequence of poems chronicling life in a surreal dystopia.

Morten Høi Jensen

Morten Høi Jensen's essays and reviews have appeared in Open Letters Monthly, Words Without Borders, The Quarterly Conversation, and elsewhere. He writes a literary blog for the Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten.

Copyright (c) Thomas Boberg and Gyldendal, 2010. English translation copyright (c) Morten Høi Jensen, 2011.