Pauli Tapio is a poet from Oulu, in Northern Finland, and now lives in Helsinki. His debut collection Sparrows and Time (2017) was awarded the Helsingin Sanomat book award for best debut work, prose or poetry, and the International Bridges of Struga award for best poetry debut. Pauli works as a PhD researcher at the University of Helsinki. He has translated from Russian into Finnish works by Svetlana Alexievich and Sergey Dovlatov, as well as contemporary Russian poets. He also writes essays and book reviews.
This is a journal entry from when the Earth revolved around the Sun.
It is Monday, May soon, and I am in debt.
I will remember this as a wretched era of greatness,
when the grand question shattered into a thousand small ones.
There were wars in Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq,
South Sudan, Somalia, Kurdistan, and Yemen. Armed conflicts
also continued in Mexico, Nigeria, Georgia, Libya,
Sinai, and Ethiopia.
Adventures and drama were shown on TV, characters died
of dragon fire, cancer, and car accidents,
they were immersed in vats of acid, drained of blood,
molten gold was poured on their faces, they were buried
alive, they were beaten with golf clubs, they were hanged and burned,
they were poisoned and maimed, they were drowned and strangled.
The scriptwriters knew their audience better than the audience itself.
Branches still bare, but now there are sparrows, passeriformes,
how they disturb the order, beards need to be shaved, promises kept.
There are five hundred sixty-eight euros and forty-one cents in my account,
before the birth of birds the world's trees were branchless,
they didn't sway as they do now, there was no time like now,
sparrows in my account, more and more sparrows.
This is a plunging out of the world, tree-growth-slow,
spin-dry-slow, overlong rapid rotation.
History is this. Such are the times through which I lived.
I started to imagine I could understand terrible things,
though none ever happened to me.
Pauli Tapio, tr. Kasper Salonen