from Man with Hat

Lieke Marsman


At the moment it feels a bit like
those times I would try to find
a hiding place behind
the gym building yep, a dank place
with views of chip packets
and chlorophyll.
From far away something
gnaws at me, it could be
a lost sense of safety or something, but
really that’s how I always feel
as if I’ve just cum
and now all I can do is smell
the mildew on the sheets. I tried
the whole day to remember
the name of this particular
brand of biscuits
and when it finally happened I didn’t move
from the bed. Poetry
today seems to me like a place
I’ve not been given a ticket to, an old love
whose number I still can’t
bring myself to delete, a distant island
populated by penguins.

Man with Hat (3)

I’m walking through the sungrey city to the doctor
and then from the doctor to the bookshop
where they’ve still got a copy of this collection
I’ve wanted for a long time, just one display copy left
and the front cover has a crease on it
but I don’t make a fuss

the woman behind the counter asks if I want to use my card
and I say no actually I don’t want to do that at all
as I produce a note and we laugh
but the woman in the bookshop is the man
from the computer shop
who I’ve moved over here
because poems

and the man with the hat
has become a woman, even though
she isn’t much more than an outline of herself
the thought clashes against
the strong light in my eyes
that makes my arms and legs feel weak
and painful, around me everything grows hot

or maybe it’s just me
here swaying through the streets with throbbing wrists
saying: it still feels like yesterday
maybe yesterday with a really long
sleepless night in-between
but still yesterday
actually who am I speaking to?

Because I Was the Hero


They came streaming out of the barracks with faces like linocuts and rolled up our sleeves, ready to cut off an arm or two. For a moment I thought some of their profiles looked familiar. Then I watched as I shot each one of them in the chest. Afterwards, you carried me away on the stumps of your shoulders and, back at the camp, I made a toast because I was the hero. In other dreams I only see strangers, people I don’t recognise at all, and I worry that in these dreams I’m already dead, that I died before the story that is the dream began.


Suddenly I have a clear thought. I want to be the father! I want to be the father who has a daughter who comes to me saying Oh, father.

‘Daughter,’ I would say, ‘never forget that we were once all precarious little creatures who crept out of our eggs simply in order to prove a point. They don’t know who they’re dealing with, so let’s tell them. I’m a dragon. You can be a tiger. If you give yourself to someone, they may lose you. You may lose yourself. Hum a tune. I’ll find you. You might begin to think that nothing is familiar to you, even though your memories say otherwise. Stay in the present. That’s where I am. You might begin to think that you’re terrible at just about everything, but really you can get whatever it is that you want, even if in the end you decide it’s not worth the trouble. Use those little claws of yours. Always make your own plans. You might begin to think the newsreaders are speaking directly to you. Make sure to listen. This is important. Don’t wait for anyone. Always sing about the rain in the rain. Eat as often as possible anything containing puff pastry. Put a fleece on. Never let anyone tell you to run faster than a tiger. You are so much better than a tiger. Look, over there in the distance is your dragonmother swooping down with her big soft potbelly for us all to take a rest on . . .’

translated from the Dutch by Sophie Collins