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Leevi Lehto

Four poems

To Juhani Ahvenjärvi

The Cheetah Award

A fruit-knife... a guitar. And the man caressing its neck is
Dr. Jim Kananga, Chairman of Contract ... and from the open
Door a hand reaches across the room in confidential
Business transaction of mutual benefit,
And pours tea into cups. The hand withdraws slowly &
Will be transferred into our own use. If this
Seems as if it is waiting to be thanked
About how to proceed
Next morning.
In August, 1968, and the original Contractor has since
Carried a stuffed cheetah into the room
To empower you as the legal beneficiary of
The removal men, the building’s subsequent inhabitants’
Application for a more protracted
Surrogate remains unrequited: A
Thousand United
Dollars on
The floor is a pool of blood
& miscellaneous expenses that might be incurred by both
If the Watcher wishes
Of the total
Can be scrubbed away together with
Our verification exercise... wait! Let
The hand first
Pay his contract sum leaving the over-invoiced
Dipping its pen in it,
            We have requested to compensate you with,
And sign for the cheetah’s
Receipt of your response & You are agreed to fax us the
Delivery, the Chairman, & the Award

Around Every Corner

Around every corner a
huge turbocharged 7.3 liter Power Stroke diesel engine grumbles.

On each engine sits One, staring
while the airliner slowly leaves the rails on the beach,

not knowing what and when, still having something to do
with Peter Sam: once a happy, kindly, hard working guy

with a painted orange in his one hand.
Insects and frogs grind their own songs from the surrounding forest.

I tell the man
I have stolen it...

If he is a policeman, he will set fire to his hair in this supersexy, handmade car like Britt Ekland (it will be fearsome to look at up close),

and if a taxi-driver, make me home with it, to listen.

The Chasm Is Here, The Chasm Is Nowhere

call a screw in for interrogation, and you will see
thru the meat grinder and couldn’t think of putting anyone else thru such
keeps in the wall
isn’t gaining any goodwill points here where baseball bats and
the purpose of its threads will ask you to
confess you are a rabbit
the shame of you: you will see at once
but be refused to take up a crusade to get
torture out of Norway. Take the screw back and ask
her to read once about sensory deprivation being the most effective form of
weather, and it will need stars. Keep the execution squad hidden
to survive this. He was going
behind a curtain disguised as the starry sky
not only to put up with this
somewhere. A wall collapses. That alone would be reason enough to
dream the Escape Dream, the toss all you
execute to screw reason, which leads the entire complex
promising that Dershowitz would advocate
the rebellion. The screw falls silent. And perhaps you, too,
which is why we’re not going to the Billy Bob Thornton concert at the El Rey
having learned something this very morning: you cannot give orders
to constant attention, and besides,
before speech gives permission
no one (else) can come

Coupons Will Remember

A helicopter lands in the snowy clearing, and from within –
rub-a-dub-dub with stars in your tub –
three men step out. They trudge up to the nearest pine,
hearing the hum of the computer and birds inside, smelling
coffee and perfume samples in the form of glossy margarine.
They fell for it, and look –  behind is a bath-tub.
The porcelain finish services to individuals, and drums
gather in the evening. The men shake hands with Another. History is
pub food, including burgers, wings –  and sandwiches. Coupons
will remember them as the men
self-adhering to permanent slip-resistant safety
who first reached the bath.
They don’t usually vote.
In the spring, when snow melts, they will think of a
well-stocked mini horror bar upon embarkation,
and come back and bathe in it.

Leevi Lehto is a Finnish poet and translator. He has published five collections of poems and a novel. He has translated among others Althusser, Deleuze&Guattari, George Orwell, Ian MacEwan, Josef Skvorezky, and Stephen King. In 1994, he published John Ashbery’s Flow Chart in Finnish as Vuokaavio. He is currently working on a selection of Charles Bernstein’s essays and poems in Finnish, as well as translating John Keats’s poems and letters.

‘The Cheetah Award’ was published in a Swedish translation by Fedrik Herzberg in Jesper Olsson's OEI magazine (12–13/2003).

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