Hannu Salakka: Five Poems

Menneisyys on vain ennustus
matkalla takaisin
että aikani siellä oli jo ohi.

The past is just a forecast
of what is coming.
On the way back
I understood
my time there was over.


Märkä, viileä yö.
Ajattelin sinua
niinkuin jotakin lämmintä.

A wet, cool night.
I was thinking of you
as something warm.


ehkä jotakin muutta.
Äkkiä vain sellainen olo
että sitä ei tunne.

Eikä se saa edes surulliseksi nyt
kun ei enää mikään saa.

Stirrings of love,
maybe of something else.
Suddenly you just have the kind of feeling
that you cannot feel it.

And now it doesn’t even make you sad anymore
when nothing comes of it.


Liikkuvaa vettä katsellen
tuulen kummallista kieltä
ja äkkiä tunnen
että on vielä jotakin uutta,

Istun hetken
kuin rauhallisin mielin.

Looking at the moving water
I listen
to the wind’s strange tongue
and suddenly I feel
there is still something new,
something unreachable.

I’ll sit for a while
as if my mind were at peace.


Kun lakkaa odottamasta
jää vain todellisuus,
se minkä voi nähdä.
Ja muistot,
kuinka toisin luuli olevan.

When you stop expecting
all that remains is reality,
what you can see.
And memories,
how different you thought you were.

Source: Hannu Salakka, Kuin unessa viipyen (Otava, 1990), pp. 251–255. Translation and photos by Living in FIN

Eeva Kilpi, “February”

On irrottava lapsistaan, sanoo isoäiti.
Se on vaikeampaa kuin vanhemmista irtoaminen,
koska vastuu siirtyy eteenpäin
ja kulkee mukana hautaan saakka.

On suojeltava lapsuutta lapsissaan,
heidän viattomuuttaan
joka vajoaa aikuisuuden kerrosten alle.

Siellä se kuitenkin yhä on,
syvällä, ahtaalla ja piilossa,
kunnes sen kohtaa taas
Silloin on suojeltava heitä,
sillä äkkiä hekin vain pyörivät maailmalla
ikäistensä kanssa

Siellä se kuitenkin yhä on,
syvällä, ahtaalla ja piilossa,
kunnes sen kohtaa taas
Silloin on suojeltava heitä,
sillä äkkiä hekin vain pyörivät maailmalla
ikäistensä kanssa

ja sinä ihmettelet
mihin aika meni,
miksi he muuttuivat
kun itse pysyit samana:

Eikä kukaan tiedä
että tähystäjä on talvisodan aikainen pikkutyttö,
jolle yhä tapahtuu mullistavia asioita,
jonka maailma yhä järkkyy.

– Minä virtailen, sanoi äiti.
– Minäkin virtaan, äiti,
ees ja taas.



You must let go of your children, Grandma says.
It is harder than letting go of your parents,
since the responsibility carries on,
going with you all the way to the grave.

You must protect your children’s childishness,
their innocence,
submerged beneath the layers of adulthood.

But it is still there,
deep, cramped, and hidden,
until you encounter it again
in your grandchildren.
Then you have to protect them,
because suddenly they’re just spinning around the world, too,
along with their agemates.

And you wonder
where the time went,
why they changed,
when you stayed the same:

a child observing life on earth
through the periscope of her old age.

And no one knows
the lookout is a little girl from the Winter War,
immune to aging,
to whom devastating things are still happening,
whose world is still shaking.

“I’m flowing,” said Mother.
“I’m flowing, too, Mother,
back and forth.”

Source: Eeva Kilpi, Kuolinsiivous (WSOY, 2012). Translation and photo by Living in FIN

Arja Tiainen, “I Roll Up the Rug”

Käärin maton rullalle ja paiskon sen
pihalle puistellakseni myöhemmin,
pestäkseni lattiat. Mietin kristinuskon ja buddhalaisuuden
eroja ja yhtäläisyyksiä. Millaista olisi elää tietämättä
synnistä mitään? Miksi juuri mietiskely koetaan pahana?
Täältä ne lähtivät viidakkoihin, käännytystyöhön.
Minun mieltäni ei käännytä mikään.
Kohta katson millainen on täydellinen nainen: tietysti
hänellä on märkä pusero ja pitkät hiukset?
Täydellisistä miehistä ei ole paljon filmejä!
siihen ei miesohjaajien mielikuvitus yllä.


I roll up the rug, tossing it
outside to give a good shake later
when I wash the floors. I think about Christianity and Buddhism’s
differences and similarities. What would it be like living with no
knowledge of sin? Why has it been meditation people see as bad?
From there it was a short step to heading off to proselytize in the jungles.
Nothing can change my mind.
I am about to see what a perfect woman is like.
Naturally, she has a wet sweater and long hair, no?
There are not many movies about perfect men.
They are too hard for male directors to imagine.

Source: Arja Tiainen, Jokainen yksinään paperin äärellä (Porvoo–Helsinki–Juva: WSOY, 1989), p. 63. Photo and translation by Living in FIN

Johanna Venho, “Heavens, How Tired I Was Sans Skeleton”


Taivas miten väsyin ilman tukirankaa
siinä tulituksessa: maailmaan kylmäpanoksia vatsaan
lippaan täydeltä. Oli päästävä pois! vain yksin pysysin koossa.
Syvä-pimeässä. Älä kysy missä olin,
rittääkö: hukuin jo kerran.
Jokin korsi nousi nikama nikamalta,
meriruoko, antoi merkin.

Olen alkanut purkaa ja akvaarion seinää.
Kun tulet, tiedoista en välitä kuulla. Puhu
se viiva jolla vesi leikkaa ilmaa, työntyy ja
imeytyy sen sisään

* * * * *

Heavens, how tired I was sans skeleton
amid the firefight: a clipful of the world’s cold bullets
to the stomach. I had to get out! Only alone could I hold it together.
Deep in the dark. Don’t ask where I was.
Suffice it to say I drowned once already.
A stem rose vertebra by vertebra,
sea sedge. It was a signal.

I have set about demolishing the aquarium wall.
I don’t care to know when you are coming. Speak
the line with which the water cuts the air, penetrating and
absorbing it.

Source: Johanna Venho, Postia Saturnukseen (Porvoo-Helsinki-Juva: WSOY, 1998), p. 53. Photo of Imatra Rapids (Imatrankoski) and translation by Living in FIN

Risto Rasa: Three Poems

Yö oli himmeä, nyt linnut
alkavat laulunsa, crescendo,
on posteljoonin aika.

* * * * *

The night was dull. Now the birds
have struck up their song crescendo.
It’s time for the postman.


Sade kohahtaa kuin katsomo.

* * * * *

The rain murmurs like an audience.


Kohon vierestä
kala nappaa hyttysen.
Voi rannan hiljaisuutta
ja aamuauringon pehmeyttä
etten kyllästy kun
saalista ei tule.

* * * * *

The fish nabs a mosquito
alongside the float.
Oh, the silence of the shore,
the morning sun’s softness.
I won’t be fed up when
I don’t catch a thing.

Source: Risto Rasa, Hiljaa, nyt se laulaa (Helsinki: Otava, 1976), pp. 19–21. Photos and translation by Living in FIN

Johanna Venho, “(Returning)”


Lentokoneesta näen tutun vihreän,
havut ilta-auringossa. Oman ääneni väri,
tämäkö on maa johon minut tehtiin.
Asuin poissa kauan, puhuin särmätöntä kieltä,
nauroin vaikeasti. Tarkkailin muita.
Toista ei voi tuntea: toisen eteen
on mentävä kuin ikonin. Odota.
Joku alkaa kertoa, sana tai pari imeytyy vereen.
Kaipasin näitä ihmisiä: kuulostelua.
Kesäyövaloa silmien alla. Tämäkö on maa
johon hajoan, mullastani kasvaa
syvä, tumma kuusi. Tuuli näppäilee oksia öisin.

imatrankoski (2)


I see the familiar green from the plane,
Conifer sprigs in the evening sun. The color of my own voice,
This is the land I was made for.
I lived away for a long time. I spoke an edgeless tongue,
I laughed gravely. I observed others.
The other cannot be known: others
Must be approached like icons. Wait.
Someone speaks, the blood absorbs a word or two.
I missed these people, listening,
The light of summer nights under my eyes. This is the land
Where I shall decompose, a deep dark fir
Growing from my soil. The wind shall pluck its boughs at night.

Source: Johanna Venho, Postia Saturnukseen (Porvoo–Helsinki–Juva: WSOY, 1998), p. 70. Translation and photo of Imatra Rapids (Imatrankoski) by Living in FIN

Angry Birds

Angry Magpies and Crows Attack Elderly Woman in Imatrankoski
Anu Pakarinen
June 6, 2019

birds-1Raili Lindberg is still shaken by the incident.

Imatra resident Raili Lindberg was the victim of a nasty attack last week in her neighborhood in Imatrankoski.

After going shopping, Lindberg was taking the same route home.

Her journey was interrupted when four or five large birds attacked her on the bike path running from Jutinkatu to Pasinkuja.

birds-2Magpies and crows attacked Raili Lindberg on the bike trail between Jutinkatu and Pasinkuja last Wednesday.

Lundberg says she was attacked by magpies, but her description suggests crows were also involved.

“A neighbor tried to warn me, shouting from the balcony for me not to go down that bike path.  Since the birds were screaming, I couldn’t make out what he was saying nor could I hear anything clearly. I kept going and the birds attacked with their claws wide open. They jumped on my head and pecked it,” Lindberg says.

Rescuer Pecked As Well
Lindberg tried to protect herself by crouching, but the birds would not relent. She says she went into shock and cried for help.

“With four or five birds pecking the crown of my head, I went into a bit of a shock. The neighbor tried to come and help, but the birds pecked him, too.”

The attack ended only when Lindberg escaped by moving forward down the bike path, her hair, neck, and clothes soaked in blood.

“I was covered in blood. I really didn’t know what to do. Then I called the Imatra municipal authorities,” says Lindberg.

The Police Get Involved
Apparently, the city reported the matter to the police since a police patrol soon arrived at the scene.

bird-3Several scabs, still visible on Lindberg’s scalp, are a memento of last week’s assault.

After consulting with the region’s on-call veterinarian, Lieutenant Timo Kuokkanen of the Southeast Finland Police Department, watch commander at the time, ordered the birds destroyed because there was no other way of solving the problem.

Kuokkanen says there was a danger the problem would continue all summer.

“I got the impression the birds were aggressive and this had been happening for some time. There were several people who had suffered bloody head wounds.”

The police patrol reported shooting one crow. The fate of the other birds is unknown.

Lindberg Hopes Tree Will Be Cut Down
Lindberg says she went to the doctor this week. Her wounds were cleaned, and she was given a tetanus shot and prescribed a course of pills.

She is still shaken by the incident.

“Lost in my thoughts, I was walking the same way again when the birds started cawing. Then I came to my senses and got the heck out of there.”

birds-4Was that the nest?

She knows that, ordinarily, birds have always been aggressive this time of year in the very same spot. The cause could be a nest located near the bike trail. According to her, there have been threatening situations in the past, but she does not know of the birds ever having attacked anyone so badly before.

“They should cut the whole tree down!”

Lieutenant Kuokkanen argues the episode is quite exceptional.

If magpies and crows continue to endanger people, he urges them to dial 112. The police will come to the scene to see what can be done.

All photos by Anu Pakarinen. Courtesy of ES. Translated by Living in FIN

Pentti Saarikoski, “Photograph”

imatra valtuusto

Pilvet kermaa,
lehmä, kuu, Egypti,
siinä olen sanonut viisi sanaa ymmärryksellä,

kuuromykälle rakennnettiin talo jossa ei ole ikkunoita,
kunnanhallitus seisoo portailla,
valokuvaaja valokuvaa pitäjänlehteä varten,
kuuromykkä istuu talossaan niin pimeässä ettei häntä ole,
mutta onhan talo,
talo on, kuu, pilvet, lehmä,
kuka vielä muistaa lehmän?
Kuka muistaa mitä Egypti tarkoittaa?
Näistä tapahtumista on kulunut kauan
aikaa pimeässä,

kuuromykkä istunut talossaan jossa ei ole ikkunoita,
tuolilla jossa on kaksi jalkaa, onhan miehellä omat jalat terveet,
kunnanhallitus seisonut portailla
esimerkkinä hyvästä hallituksesta
joka alensi veroäyrin hinnan.

Cream clouds,
cow, moon, Egypt.
There: I have said five words whilst making sense.

A deaf mute was built a house without windows.
The council stands on the steps.
A photographer takes a photo for the local paper.
The deaf mute sits in the house so dark he is not there,
but the house is there in any case.
The house is there, the moon, the clouds, the cow.
Who still remembers the cow?
Who remembers what Egypt means?
Such a long time has passed
in the dark since these events.

The deaf mute sitting in the house without windows.
An armchair with two legs, and the man, too, has healthy legs, his own legs.
The council standing on the steps.
A model of good government,
they lowered the rates.


Source: Pentti Saarikoski, Runot (Otava, 2004), p. 101. Translated by Living in FIN. Photograph of Imatra Town Council courtesy of imatra.fi.

Pentti Saarikoski, “New Clichés”

sirkus tahti

Uusia klisheitä

ja me ollaan tilapäisiä täällä,
ajat ajatukset ja taivas teltta,
mutta on suunta johon me elämme ikuisesti,

jokainen ilta
laihat hartiat
ja jokaiset kasvot kuin kasvot jotka on otettu pois,
takaapäin nähty
jokainen ilta kuin sirkus näytöksen jälkeen,
laihat hartiat taivasta vasten
kun aika ja teltta on otettu pois,
punaiset vaunut, portailla aurinko
nuorallatanssija, koko maailma
häkeissä kuin silmissä jotka katsovat kaukaa

New Clichés

we are temporary here,
times thoughts and the blue yonder a big top,
but there is a direction where we live forever,

every night
scrawny shoulders
and every face like a face taken off,
seen from behind
every night like a circus after the show,
scrawny shoulders against the sky
when time and tent are taken away,
red streetcars, sun on the stairs
a tightrope walker, the whole world
in cages as in eyes gazing from a ways away


Source: Pentti Saarikoski, Runot (Otava, 2004), p. 98. Translation and photo by Living in FIN


A musical rendition of “New Clichés” by well-known Finnish singer-songwriter Liisa Akimof