Teemu Manninen

The public domain

History is not a relationship between things,
but a relationship between relationships:
a scrawny, timid, freckled man of thirty,
who did not find the topic of the plot amusing.

That’s why we believe in the public domain,
for stupid ideas to live thousands of years:
hot dates will cool, ends cut their own necks,
you're fortunate if you can eat what you want,

stay puzzled by pain, think plenty of good,
but all livers run dry when their time is up:
there’s simply no reason for trees to grow
colors this rich when they sit on lawns

that waste their radiance. Weather itself
will taste years of dudes, money, marriage
for you to write this sentence, seeking
the great forgotten language, conversations

that grace sense, like a bag of punchlines,
comic mortgage. Of that, there’s always shortage.
And yet, he felt strangely elated by the loss:
the lilac and magnolia in full sensual bloom.


The Faerie North

You hope to roam the green earth
like an ogre armed with peace,
to climb back the mountains of the North,
where herds of happy fathers flock,
exult in humid health, their hard features,
wild walks and faerie smirk
like maidens who, with a breath of upper air,
foot up the straight long path, shining
like the coiling fountain.

You run that hill to smelt yourself,
hone the anvil, forge hot courage
into sovereign form, a lean and tempered balm.
But the world is too immense, too immediate,
it knows your every influence,
abounds in brave remains who die on land
and in the air, age that hungers
for departure, jealous gods facing west,
who search for fame’s sad essence.

We have no duties left.
You can exit this place, climb rocks
if you like, swim, find out where strength lies,
how it has struck its long roots
down into the arable nothing.
When things become difficult,
you may even find yourself in trouble,
like a girl in a sweater,
stuck at home on a Monday night

she feels the dread of want,
blooded pigs prancing in the rubble.
You try to hide, but debt tunnels,
the budget increases in exile,
like the soul of a dead master’s paintings,
bombed-out buildings with high ceilings.
All blue escapes are there, rise at dawn,
familiar, mocking: a swift horse
headed for the shore where you hunt no more.


Season´s Greetings

The season’s deformed mouth is nailed shut
like a cute coffin, a carnival of sunsets,
fuzzy supernatural instinct. In daily dreams
of unalienated being like the paper cups
of hospital latrines we start a melody,
prepare our orchards for a flight to Belize,
wake up to find more holes on the surface
filled with the waters of mystery, an alcoholic
malady. It was all corrupt like smooth
sandstone, an architect’s math, a lipsticked
Apollo with no accuracy: dry inland pain,
canned sky the color of Americans.
Asphalt, concrete, steel – you can’t burn them,
only paint more disaster movies, fun fur,
gas pits, lost pies. Nothing I want to recall,
log in to, data miners with black lungs,
wine grand with live dreams, bachelor fleets
with publishing deals. My dad, lost out there
in the deep shadows, chewing the couch,
spitting in the dirt and the hunkering chaos,
the cold, white Aphrodite loved by frogs.


Teemu Manninen (b.1977) is a poet from Helsinki, Finland. Since 2004 he has published five collections of award-winning poetry, some of which has been translated into Swedish, German, English, Italian and Russian. In his spare time he engages in performative experiments with the sound art collective Linnunlaulupuu, works as an editor for the co-operative poetry publisher Poesia, and writes reviews for the major newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.