Read all About It

On the day you will be born:

The U.S. eliminates 95% of H-

bomb fallout. Atom test rips

blockhouse 14 miles from blast

site. U.S. officers in Soviet radio-

TV accord. Law group head hits

high court. Free speech no

protection for obscenity high

court rules – and that is all

the news that’s fit to print,

or your mother has time to read,

in a taxi in Cincinnati, on her way

to meet you this fine morning

in June.

What Sounds Like Rain

small tapdancers

on a floor of water

a hundred leprechauns

finger snapping out of synch

hummingbirds hammering 

on plastic window panes

no – the sound of twenty one nineteen

year olds writing

five hour long

marathon mid-term

essay exams


And I get to sit here

and listen


Once We Were Sisters

Girl children

in matching sunsuits,

offering each other broken

Oreos, sand hidden

in the white cream


When I turned five

I would have to color inside

the lines, you said,

and watch my words

so they didn’t run out


The night our mother died

you tried to kill me

my child fled into the dark


Your name comes now

in dreams, shaped like a woman

parkbench sleeping


Then, we pricked our fingers,

crossed blood, touched tongues,

wound our hair together

into one brown silk braid





Det lange livet…

Det lange livet
Livet er så langt, av og til
varer det i flere måneder
avbrutt av høyt gress,
dype elver
og kyss
som varer like lenge som et eple
i det lille sekundet mellom sommer og høst

Read this and you will know why I fell in love with Terje Johansen’s poems, and why I miss him. 

Forfatter: Terje Johanssen
Utgitt: Fra samlingen «Uttexti», Gyldendal 1997



Is like living with a snake.

You spend a lot of time watching it sleep.

It requires only sporadic feeding,

When it moves, it unwinds slowly,

imperceptible, yet it will not be stopped.

It has a mind of its own. It will shed its skin

whether you are ready for it or not.

And when you are asleep, not watchful, think 

you are handling it just fine, the snake will

strike out, bite, and you will fear it.

You must not be afraid.

This is what snakes do.

You own the snake for this purpose.

The blow only startles. 

Suck the venom out, spit,

nurse the wound.

The scar you carry will remind you.