Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Sasja Janssen

"Virgula, the iron beneath the mattress bounces"

Virgula,

the iron beneath the mattress bounces as you dart before my eyes
quivering dragonfly of glass
and me who has to report to the guardian of my archives 

a stack of pink-dotted files, a kind of baby between us
but she keeps quiet, she keeps a low profile on the dirty Formica,
I’m the crying animal here 

the morning pointy with luminance, trees with their bones
in the sparse green, roadsides with gnawing hunger
people drowned in one another and the stones alive and without me 

the canal made of oil paint and I cycle to the tower
of the implementing body, where a red line sews the rooms
a Ficus thrown into the corner, I stroke its fabric 

my gospel is voluminous, the baby
and somewhere in a basement corridor dossiers of a more forgotten nature
my carnal secrets and things that don’t go by 

there on the Formica now is also my bulging navel
the guardian pinches it and nobody knows what else to do with
you in our light that betrays no course of action 

glassmakers, martyrs, I know the poltergeists in your mind
and in the morning a Virgula torments you, your cat lays eggs
you can’t fool me, but my watery grey gaze 

dreams him to his mother, she hangs up the washing and always
that blowing of sheets on a metal line
he no longer has to fix me on a spring roof made of asphalt 

while back home a new wife awaits him in his Auping
a Pole to whitewash the walls around
the moles in his circular garden still have to be gassed tonight

I fear his cruel summation
the implantation laws in which I collapse
I fear the limitations he cuts my thoughts with 

the human being dissipates, I tell him, look through the windows that
never open, but he wants my thumb
with the sickness of all sicknesses in a diabolical form 

until the baby screams her legs rigid in that purposeful carpeted room
like a scorched field of potatoes,
the line to the outside is short and roundabout in roundabout 

I cry to the birds, they wave back with the ease of their world
and at home I close all the doors and windows, I call everyone, they only answer
I write all the letters and immediately receive the right answer, yes 

bless my comma, things aren’t that bad
I get another year to subjugate the animal, then I bounce up
to you and at last the morning comes behind my back and 

finally the morning comes into itself.

 

"Virgula, het ijzer onder het matras springt"

Virgula,

het ijzer onder het matras springt als jij schiet voor mijn oog
trillende glaslibel
en ik naar de bewaker moet van mijn archief

een stapel mappen roze gevlekt, een soort baby tussen ons in
maar ze houdt zich stil, ze houdt zich koest op het vuile formica,
ik ben hier het huilende dier

de ochtend puntig van helderheid, bomen met hun botten
in het dunne groen, bermen met stekende honger
mensen in elkaar verdronken en de stenen levend en zonder mij

het kanaal uit olieverf en ik fiets naar de toren
van het uitvoeringsinstituut, waar een rode lijn de kamers naait
een ficus in de hoek geworpen, ik aai zijn stof

mijn evangelie is omvangrijk, de baby
en ergens in een keldergang dossiers van meer verloren aard
mijn vleselijke geheimen en dingen die niet voorbijgaan 

daar op het formica nu ook mijn puilende navel
waar de bewaker in knijpt en niemand die weet hoe het met u verder
moet in ons licht dat geen verloop verraadt 

glazenmakers, rombouten, ik ken de kwelgeesten in uw hoofd
en in de ochtend treitert een Virgula, uw kat legt eieren
mij maak je niets wijs, maar mijn watergrijze blik 

droomt hem naar zijn moeder, ze hangt de was op en onder altijd weer
dat waaien van lakens aan een ijzeren draad
op een voorjaarsdak van asfalt hoeft hij mij niet meer te fiksen

terwijl thuis een nieuwe vrouw in zijn Auping op hem wacht
een Pool voor het kalken van de muren rondom
de mollen in zijn cirkeltuin, ze moeten vanavond nog vergast

ik vrees zijn kwade optelling
de uitvoeringswetten waarin ik uiteenval
ik vrees de beperkingen waarmee hij mijn denken coupeert

de mens vervliegt, zeg ik hem, kijk door de ramen die nooit open
gaan, maar hij wil mijn duim
met in diabolische vorm de ziekten van de ziekten

tot de baby haar beentjes stijf krijst in die doelgerichte kamer met tapijt
als een kaalgefikt aardappelveld,
de lijn naar buiten is kort en rotonde in rotonde

huil ik naar de vogels, ze wuiven terug met het gemak van hun wereld
en thuis ontsluit ik alle deuren en ramen, ik bel iedereen op, ze nemen allen aan
ik schrijf alle brieven en krijg meteen het juiste antwoord ja 

heil mijn komma, zo slecht hebben we het niet
ik kreeg er weer een jaar bij om het dier te knechten, dan veer ik omhoog
naar jou en eindelijk komt de ochtend buiten mij om en 

eindelijk komt de ochtend in zichzelf klaar.

Close

"Virgula, the iron beneath the mattress bounces"

Virgula,

the iron beneath the mattress bounces as you dart before my eyes
quivering dragonfly of glass
and me who has to report to the guardian of my archives 

a stack of pink-dotted files, a kind of baby between us
but she keeps quiet, she keeps a low profile on the dirty Formica,
I’m the crying animal here 

the morning pointy with luminance, trees with their bones
in the sparse green, roadsides with gnawing hunger
people drowned in one another and the stones alive and without me 

the canal made of oil paint and I cycle to the tower
of the implementing body, where a red line sews the rooms
a Ficus thrown into the corner, I stroke its fabric 

my gospel is voluminous, the baby
and somewhere in a basement corridor dossiers of a more forgotten nature
my carnal secrets and things that don’t go by 

there on the Formica now is also my bulging navel
the guardian pinches it and nobody knows what else to do with
you in our light that betrays no course of action 

glassmakers, martyrs, I know the poltergeists in your mind
and in the morning a Virgula torments you, your cat lays eggs
you can’t fool me, but my watery grey gaze 

dreams him to his mother, she hangs up the washing and always
that blowing of sheets on a metal line
he no longer has to fix me on a spring roof made of asphalt 

while back home a new wife awaits him in his Auping
a Pole to whitewash the walls around
the moles in his circular garden still have to be gassed tonight

I fear his cruel summation
the implantation laws in which I collapse
I fear the limitations he cuts my thoughts with 

the human being dissipates, I tell him, look through the windows that
never open, but he wants my thumb
with the sickness of all sicknesses in a diabolical form 

until the baby screams her legs rigid in that purposeful carpeted room
like a scorched field of potatoes,
the line to the outside is short and roundabout in roundabout 

I cry to the birds, they wave back with the ease of their world
and at home I close all the doors and windows, I call everyone, they only answer
I write all the letters and immediately receive the right answer, yes 

bless my comma, things aren’t that bad
I get another year to subjugate the animal, then I bounce up
to you and at last the morning comes behind my back and 

finally the morning comes into itself.

 

"Virgula, the iron beneath the mattress bounces"

Virgula,

the iron beneath the mattress bounces as you dart before my eyes
quivering dragonfly of glass
and me who has to report to the guardian of my archives 

a stack of pink-dotted files, a kind of baby between us
but she keeps quiet, she keeps a low profile on the dirty Formica,
I’m the crying animal here 

the morning pointy with luminance, trees with their bones
in the sparse green, roadsides with gnawing hunger
people drowned in one another and the stones alive and without me 

the canal made of oil paint and I cycle to the tower
of the implementing body, where a red line sews the rooms
a Ficus thrown into the corner, I stroke its fabric 

my gospel is voluminous, the baby
and somewhere in a basement corridor dossiers of a more forgotten nature
my carnal secrets and things that don’t go by 

there on the Formica now is also my bulging navel
the guardian pinches it and nobody knows what else to do with
you in our light that betrays no course of action 

glassmakers, martyrs, I know the poltergeists in your mind
and in the morning a Virgula torments you, your cat lays eggs
you can’t fool me, but my watery grey gaze 

dreams him to his mother, she hangs up the washing and always
that blowing of sheets on a metal line
he no longer has to fix me on a spring roof made of asphalt 

while back home a new wife awaits him in his Auping
a Pole to whitewash the walls around
the moles in his circular garden still have to be gassed tonight

I fear his cruel summation
the implantation laws in which I collapse
I fear the limitations he cuts my thoughts with 

the human being dissipates, I tell him, look through the windows that
never open, but he wants my thumb
with the sickness of all sicknesses in a diabolical form 

until the baby screams her legs rigid in that purposeful carpeted room
like a scorched field of potatoes,
the line to the outside is short and roundabout in roundabout 

I cry to the birds, they wave back with the ease of their world
and at home I close all the doors and windows, I call everyone, they only answer
I write all the letters and immediately receive the right answer, yes 

bless my comma, things aren’t that bad
I get another year to subjugate the animal, then I bounce up
to you and at last the morning comes behind my back and 

finally the morning comes into itself.

 

Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère