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Johannes Göransson

From Elegy

I am here but
in my damnation
in my carnation
I am looking for
a place to place
my dead daughter
today is her
birthday or
it was her birth
day and now
she is in the river
she is the river
I am
in the river is
dark and the carousel
the horses have had
their heads
torn off I have had
my mouth
I have had my
eyes too long
I will get rid of
the residue
on my hands from
the assassination
of another child
he dreamed about
me while I was still
a child of evil
now I am his child
the stained child
with the fox bite
will you let me out
of this river will you
take the fox bite out
the fox bite is my
daughter she carries
pearls in her mother
of pearls body
it's a double
I can tell because I am
a double too I have
bartered too long
for these dangerous
looking hands
I have to let them go
to write the manifesto
of the dead daughter

The river I drown
with my own hands
is the only place
where my daughter
still lives so I drown
and drown to keep her
alive I see her
in my face I've become
a girl a dead girl
I've saved her breath
on my iphone
I can't listen to it
so I write this poem
to be performed to it
what was the machine
called the tube machine
she breathed with
it's in the river with
me its sound I begin
to cup my hands
if I was scared
if I knew what was
at stake I would write
this poem in ambergris

I have to hate
this body
it wants to be softer in
deep dark water it
wants me to be
bartered off
for radios and
it wants arteries
but it only has
money and pearls
are used to sell
it to the spiritualists
they speak to it
but doesn't understand
its language which
is spoken to foreigners
an empire of
breaking down
the walls I write on them
the body I write
I write it with my fingers
as if I were a baby
my mouth is a baby's
mouth it cannot be
protected it must speak
through a thin veil
of language
of word that means over
my own word
I stole for this purpose
for the poem
for the angels
that hate my body

Johannes Göransson is the author of several books, including most recently The Sugar Book and POETRY AGAINST ALL (forthcoming 2019), and the translator of several more, including Aase Berg's Hackers, Ann Jäderlund's Which once had been meadow and Helena Boberg's Sense Violence (forthcoming 2019). He edits Action Books and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Notre Dame.