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Feature: The Low Countries
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Erik Spinoy

Three poems

Translated by John Irons

This piece is about 3 printed pages long.

Scarcely has one found

a skeleton in the attic
in a wardrobe

charred remains in a Cessna

bone fragments in a cutter –

than hey, look
here I am
in overalls

and leaning on my stick
gripped inwardly by something
held tighter day by day

and peering out of eyes
that once myopic grow
increasingly long-sighted.

It is mostly cold,
a pungent smell
that penetrates
my perfumed mask.

What I am doing here
I fail to see.

Hot and sticky is this

iron diktat from
the local climate.

In the afternoon
the eggs and babies
by the thousand
sit in bulging
eyes and noses, mouths.

Beneath the moon- and halogen-light
the grape-black lips prepare
and pout for this –
their final

While the lens zooms in
on this slow seething,
such a livid phlegm
falls (as if dripping
from a leaky tap)
amidst the ants.

Then the snails, and finally
the waiting of the vultures
is rewarded.

Startled they take
vomiting to the air.

In the midst of concrete towers

the encampment

had grown hastily
where pitch black bag
on bag
was brought inside.

Beneath the zips were
molars or a torso
fragments of a bone
and morsels, too,
of other tissues.

A wind of ash blew there
that from the hottest hell
swirled round the girders
and the mountains heaps of rubble
where the rescue teams and tower
cranes were nerve-wracked
maggots merely
brightly-coloured ants.

I saw the work
of my
fellow creatures – of

my heroes so derailed
who sweep aside the hand
of nature

and keep on

Erik Spinoy was born in Aalst, Belgium in 1960. His first poetry collection De jagers in de sneeuw (The hunters in the snow, Manteau) was published in 1986. Recent collections include Boze wolven (Bad wolves, Meulenhoff, 2002) and L (L, J.M. Meulenhoff, 2004). ‘Scarcely has one found’, ‘Hot and sticky is this’ and ‘In the midst of concrete towers’, are from his most recent poetry sequence Ik (I, Druksel, 2006). Together with Dirk van Bastelaere and Patrick Peeters, he is editor of the journal Freespace, Nieuwzuid. He teaches Modern Dutch Literature at the University of Liège, Belgium.