Poems from Estonia

After Visiting A Clown Playhouse

The best gift you can give a clown
is purpose.
Circus headquarters closed
after a stupid Soviet crackdown.
The religion of performers.
A tinsel-covered drum,
a patchwork piano.
Now a small quiet playhouse,
soon full of children.
The lowered lights,
rebuilding for grown-ups;
it takes time,
since they joined hands in
protest from Tallinn.

Thank You

With every new flavour
We are disallowed in England,
outside a pink building,
an onion-shaped roof.

Thinking thoughts that might taste
precisely of plum,
and specifically of plum ice-cream.

Not using the word we half-know
for “thank you”* (*”tan-nan”?)
But being grateful nonetheless
in English.

Perhaps An Art School

An unused art school,
though we are not sure –
labeled heads of pottery,
a desk busy with books.

A table tennis table,
to play ping-pong without a ball.

The End of The Ice Age in Estonia

I can’t imagine what it would be like
to wake up in the morning
of a bad day in Tallinn.

When I’m on holiday I wonder
if there is such a thing?

Ham, cheese, “black bread”
for breakfast.
Estonian Coco-Pops.
Beats yesterday’s morning
chocolate cake and coffee,
for conventionality.

Irish Pub

In an Irish Pub in Estonia
plays a song,
♪”Far away from lovely Derry…”♫

The Estonian State Puppet Theatre

Even a member of
The Estonian Strong Man Team
parks his SUV outside
The State Puppet Theatre,
sits in the small room,
the curtains that raise themselves at the corners;
Sits a few rows back
reserving the nearest seats for children.
Behind the curtains,
the performers teaching
their little charges,
the steps to dance,
the lines to say.

Straw Theatre

The impermanent theatre
made of straw,
won’t be here next summer.

The technician with one motorbike glove
removes weeds growing around the stage.

The personnel of a company
reconvene their meeting outside –
the large group that descends,
a surprise to all.

One of the merrymaking workers was rude to us.
So I can’t think highly of what his company produces.

Bakery

Bakery
that looks as cosy as a home,
the warmth of bread and
Estonian pastries,
reflected in the
temperament of the old lady
who makes them.

Biscuits given jam shapes
of hearts,
custard fillings,
unfamiliar whirls of flavour,

windmill picture built into the wall
when the bakery and home
first emerged
fresh from the oven.

Harbour

Green harbour,
quiet with bathers
with nowhere to lay,
standing on the pebbles and stones
looking out at
cruiseships leaving port,

being calm with blue,
and the distant ancient town,
and, closer, a concrete
heavily graffitied building
that the locals have made clear;

which they love less.

Lady Collecting Daisies Outside The Museum

If the yellow lady with the red collar,
would ask me,
the wandering Estonian Avant-Gardist,
to paint something I have some skill to paint her,
like a flower or an eye,
a simple aeroplane picture,
of her collecting daisies
with our memories of MacDonald’s,
when she, from afar,
picked daisies together,
to sell or to keep in the house in a vase,
to make daisy chains,
or just to make time.

I would, for my part,
dispense with harsh
mathematic Cubism,
dark-eyed Expressionism
or Concepts, for a while.

I would sit in
the Grand Hall of the old Estonian Masters,
where colours are brighter and newer than any.

Someone would then instruct me to
remember a place in England,
after which I’d wonder “why?”,
and sway gently in a field of daisies.



Looking on the bus,
through space and people,
young and in love in
uncynical Estonia,

on the bus
waiting for the doors to open,
the young man on the lower step,
looking up with admiration
at his girlfriend,
together as sweet as
65 cent
“Südameke” cakes,

translating to everyone
as “heartthrob”,
and love.

2 thoughts on “Poems from Estonia

  1. sounds like you’re having good time. love the poems! especially the opening line ‘ the best you can give a clown is purpose’… ‘somebody get that clown a squirty flower or a bucket full of confetti.

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