No. 4 & 5


Lasse Söderberg  

Translated from the Swedish by Lars Palm  


Five Poems from Stenarna i Jerusalem


He resembles a vortex
of black crows where he goes

He resembles a hairy navel
He resembles a black nail

Tear him apart
He immediately recovers his form.


         For Cristóbal Serra

      After all I have read my eyes are tired, they are like two tired horses coming down to the water to drink. And behold, the water still runs.

      After all I have written my hand is tired, it is like an old tired tracker dog closing its eyes. But behold, it still feels the scent of God.

      After all I have preached the thought is tired. The thought wants to settle beneath the tree of questions, but behold, suddenly the tree blooms.

      After all I have read and written and preached I have still not read, written or preached enough. It is as if the words were never emptied of either of the two sacred alphabets, the one that followed me from my happy childhood and the one I learned from the Saracen slave.

      My work is one: word and action. The hermits cave is closer to life than the seats of learning. Every street-corner I seek out turns into a sacred place.

      I call myself fool where I stand in the squares in strange lands and call. But every stone and every insult that strikes me proves me right.

      The insults of the faithful are no less hard than the stones of the infidels.

      But it is the stones they throw at me that make me bleed. Terror-stricken and joyful I see the blood colour my already scarlet garment.

      Now I am an old man and fear the longed-for death. 


In my room at the Mishkenot
I make my tea, I read my paper.

Many messages reach me.
No messages emanate from me.

I am flesh run through by time
on a raft of light.

It is my flying carpet
taking me to where words are.


A boy walked running his finger along the wall
as if counting all the stones of the city.
How many? A devastating number.

A young man held a stone in his hand,
it fit nowhere except right there,
right then, it had no part in the city.

An elderly man sat with eyes closed
as if he wanted to become one of the city’s stones.
No one could pull him away from there!

An old man put a stone into his mouth.
It would speak in his place.
It would say his prayer.


The waves crash in over Jerusalem drowning the city in fish-scales. Everything glitters and shines. Adam rises once again from the wet mud with his beard full of plankton and the women slowly move their fins as they make love. Gurgles, gurgles. I laugh in my sleep as the tide turns.




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