A Clockwork of Flowers

Fredrik Nyberg

WINTERS (1994—1999)

It is soon snowing in Sweden.
The dampness, which for more than six months has lingered in the tree, falls
finally mute against the ground.
The chill in the hands spreads in the hands.
The eleventh of February I am suddenly still much older.

The wind is extremely cold.
The bus, which drives too quickly through the suburb, must wait for itself
between two stops.
Your forehead is very determined.
There are people I never forget.

It is snowing in Sweden.
I move some books, which stand on the shelf above my
desk, and in so doing stir up dust.
I age. Erik Lindegren wrote his political poems while walking.
The houses in Halland are built and illuminated from within.

It is snowing.
During the 1500's – with for example Shakespeare – the
perspectival consciousness broke through.
Grammar is like historical standards in wrists and ankles.
Soon you will leave, then you come home and travel again.
The world deteriorates in all the world's deterioration.


It cannot rain.
In the parking lot children and dogs play. That a car hides
another car's sparkling details.
A new thought is seldom new. In the tunnel that connects
Central Station with Östra Nordstan it smells like piss
The insects move critically around the animals' open eyes.

You are now my sun.
I hold your body down with the weight of my own body.
Philosophy is nonsense. The slope down to the lake only gets steeper.
Tomorrow I must disappear hierarchically.

I drink a lot of beer.
I let go for a moment of the temple and let the years pass.
To then, time and again – also while sleeping – exhibit certain
decisive movements with the hand.
The sun is wear and tear, a round table, a chair that stands in tall grassgreen
grass. Poetry is not agreements. When I was a child I did
not want to put right from in front of left food (or the other way around).


We sleep like sand.
My wife is on her way to the stomach.
The chill arises everywhere in the legs.
My wife is on her way to the stomach. The trains from the north are covered with
snow, snow which will soon be hard and hard.


Spring in every direction of the wind.
Who wakes now in my right wrist?
Sometimes a muscle arises anyway.
I swallow for one minute. You immediately start coughing when you lay down
on the bed to sleep. Sometimes a muscle arises anyway.


"You burst as hoary alyssum, cowslip."
One day can be green like the grass around the rhythm.
You lock your hands in an animal.
The back belongs with the voice. Each winter is almost as long.
You lock your hands in an animal. To point to one's cheek and mean

VIOLA (L. fem.)

People eat sand.
Denmark resembles Halland.
The bottom of the ocean decides the waves' formation in toward the beach.

It is 2:15am.
Beata sleeps since a few hours back.
I sit completely alone in the other big room and try
to remember how I as a seven- or eight-year-old stepped back, backwards away
from the game on the playground. We know that we shall die and that we shall live
with just that knowledge for another while.
I cover my ears.
There are no simpler words.
Skagerack and Kattegatt pretend to meet.


Fall again.
There are people I never forget.
The streetlights are lit synchronically but slowly. The lights
gasp and turn in the wrists' veins.
Soon I raise or lower my voice.

I smell my fingers.
There are words that hide inside other words' erected
order. And outside the window it does not snow.
I am born in the afternoon.
I know that the poem's first line must be shorter than the ones immediately

To fall forward.
You suddenly turn inward, as forest sometimes turns to other
forest. First mankind's life, then also – as
in Stendahl – society in a modern sense a resistance, a subject
for language, for example.

Language decides the visible.
Yesterday we could for example see the sand (the grains of sand) blow in over
the courtyard from different [their own] directions.
I am awake but pretend that I am in deep sleep. The cancer in the throat
is not satisfied with the throat's (own) actual shape. I remember
the darkness when you opened your open mouth.

ZEPHYRANTES (Herb. fem.)

I fuck up.

The flowers bend in the mild western wind.

The fruits shall ripen and fall very ripe to the ground.

Station – Fjällgatan.
A newspaper lies still and just flaps in the wind.
I suddenly localize all pain to my left calf;
I soon bend down to feel there on the back of the leg.
Now I hear that the streetcar actually is coming. It is illuminated and
almost completely empty.

translated from the Swedish by Jennifer Hayashida

Read the original in Swedish

Read translator’s note

Fredrik Nyberg is a Swedish poet born in 1968, currently living in Gothenburg, Sweden. He attended the creative writing program at the University of Gothenburg, an institution which has fostered some of the country's better-known writers, and has since become an established force in new forms of poetic expression there. En annorlunda praktik (A Different Practice) was his first book, published by Norstedts Förlag in 1998. Subsequent books Blomsterur – Förklaringar och Dikter (Clockwork of Flowers: Explanations and Poems), and Åren (The Years), were published in 2000 and 2002, respectively. In 2003, Nyberg wrote the play Tunnelsång (Tunnel Song), commissioned by Gothenburg's Cinnnober Theater with the mission to stimulate and develop contemporary Swedish theatre. Nyberg serves on the editorial board of the Swedish literary publication OEI.

Jennifer Hayashida is the translator of Fredrik Nyberg's A Different Practice (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2007) and Eva Sjödin's Inner China (Litmus Press, 2005). Additional work has appeared in journals and art exhibitions domestically and abroad, most recently in the Spring 2009 issue of Salt Hill and as part of the 2009 Luleå Biennial. She is currently a 2009 NYFA Fellow in Poetry, and was a 2008-2009 Writer-in-Residence through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program. She recently completed a manuscript of poems, entitled A Machine Wrote This Song, and is now at work on a long essay entitled "The Autonomic System." She lives in Brooklyn NY, and is Acting Director of the Asian American Studies Program at Hunter College, The City University of New York.

The poems presented here are all taken from Nyberg's A Clockwork of Flowers, in which the majority of the poems are titled with Latin taxonomic names of plants and arranged alphabetically by title, with this structure being regularly broken up by the insertion of a longer poem not named after a plant.