who he is and where he comes from

by fs

I am an Estonian poet
I come from Lasnamäe
what is Lasnamäe?
an eastern district
of our capital city
there are grey buildings
five and nine storeys
some even higher
supermarkets too
and lots of dog shit
to get to Lasnamäe
you go along a straight road
bored into the limestone cliff
a mass of grey rock
on both sides of the bus
most of the residents   
in Lasnamäe aren't even Estonian
if that means anything
I for example don't know
the nationality of the children
who played every evening on the floor
of the house by the railway
opposite my old home
behind barred windows
without curtains
who are the Estonians anyway?
a small nation
passionate as the Italians
but inwardly
it doesn't show on the outside
feelings like flames
that burn their guts
they only sing
when herded together
or already so drunk
that no one can carry a tune
and this is awful of course
better go to the zoo
listen to hyenas and wolves
that are safely behind bars
at long last we have
a greater freedom
who knows for how long
when an Estonian falls in love
everything gets mixed up inside
at best he gets off with
a simple depression
a lot of vodka gets drunk
sometimes pure spirit
suicides are attempted
some hang themselves
others slash their wrists
they often survive
one didn't
he struck lucky
but he was an exception
a legend in his own time
with money and a licence
you can buy a gun
generally they just
keep to themselves
they read books
one listens all night
to the singer who hanged himself
another studies the ancient scriptures
of a southern people
he amasses evil within
and starts to ramble
one writes down his complexes
then feels better
no one else
will ever read them
except possibly someone
who is tormented
by his own complexes
let him suffer them then
let him read them
we have a store of ideas
gleaned from elsewhere
compiled and written down
in Finno-Ugric German
but history
is of flesh and bone
blood sweat salt and vodka
warm German sperm
the frozen Siberian earth
and the Baltic waves
where bombs drop
but above all blood
time and again defeated
silently enslaved to others
it should be someone else
who talks about all this
too much blood
and raw emotions
we keep quiet
we talk about the present
after all we're still surviving
until we meet a natural death
a natural death is
not getting killed
not killing yourself
not being run over by a car
or no other accident happens
what is luck and what is ill luck
this is of course nebulous
which is it if you are born here
into the biting cold
the nordic darkness
the damp sea air
to breathe in pollution
to drink the toxic cure-all
that warms the chilled body
and helps you forget
it makes you nicely stupid
sometimes you can't shake it off
don't I take it myself the odd time
but my father
no longer drinks
he did before
he boozed a lot
with Russian men
he went hunting with them
and someone showed him
where there was once a village
at the outbreak of the last war
a destroyer battalion came
and killed everyone
women and children young and old
women's breasts were sliced off
and so on you know
the battalion commander
lived in the area for years
he was called comrade
under the cold dark sky
people are brothers and sisters
you know yourself what happens
if you don't want to be
let's talk about the present
the vodka's not done yet
life goes on
an amiable Russian man
with prison tattoos
takes money
sets bottles on the counter
good go-ahead Estonian men
without tattoos
because they were on the side
where blood was concealed
and underarms unmarked
now sell us government services
whoever has money to spare
buys health from them
or even culture
but life service is expensive
world market prices are rising
self-respect
is part of a luxury package
I'll stop all this talk now
I too have Russian blood
but the Estonian cultural context
still on the inside
better keep quiet
or talk like a European
about what interests the company
we do have beautiful women
but not many
only a few take your breathe away
if you come to Estonia
before you meet one of them
you'll have been plied with drink
then you'll get lost in the mist
or the clinging sleet
and when you eventually get to her
many years will have passed
our climate really is damp
dark cold and windy
there is little daylight
that's why we have to
install small windows
what's so great
out there anyway
and the walls have to be thick
we build strong houses
our wealth is limestone
heavy ugly and grey
we are tough and hard-working
if you still don't get it
I'll say it again
strong alcohol and culture
keep the life in us
otherwise we'd freeze to death
or go completely mad
passionate as we are