Sunday morning. People jog
through your head, but you don’t know them. You see
only their poker face, the kilos
of lost joy that have wormed their way
into their hips.
Sometimes you laugh at it. At other times you bite back
the music and impotence that pound through their ears.
Loss of face splits the park.
You’re well aware, you too should do something
about your health, about the fattening
of memories and old lovers
who sing through your joints like arthrosis.
You ignore it. You prefer to play poker in a book
or pub for a better future. You lose
and even your most tender ex guffaws as she
repeats her parting song.
Stairway to heaven. Vondelpark. For years
a broken iPod has murmured in your heart.
He is nine and still wants to be a lion.
You try to tell him
about inventors, Porsches, poets
who sold their hero’s death years
in advance, but he wants none of it.
So you’re walking here again and watch
your son dreaming his way through
the bars. ‘Look, Daddy, look,’ he coos
and you nod. Long ago you too heated
your attic room with pure lust for life.
Each night you’d creep through girl’s hearts and
with pen or patent slink away
from your contemporaries. It didn’t work. No fame
or dough or Porsche. Just a wage slip
that mocks your pride and a son
who just won’t become a king.
From Retroactive (2014); translated by Paul Vincent