Arjan Hut 16/11/2023

Doubting’s Allowed (Version 4)

a quick note, scribbled
en route, on the train,
travelling from faraway, or am I sick
on the sofa and delirious?

who knows, who knows
yes, fantasising I’m on my way to you
(but not a clue where you might be)
under a blanket as if it’s November
breathing fever out of both nostrils
night races past the windows
grey squalls wheeze and hawk, man,
a head full of mist and not sure of anything

but doubting’s allowed!

doubting’s allowed because otherwise blood splatters from the rooftops

because the simple slogans of omniscient alphas
have led us to the brink so often

because it might free up some space for poems and stories,
because listening’s a dirty job, because telling stories is tough

doubting’s allowed because it preys on our minds anyway

who’s got the gall to tell us now, straight out
don’t make a fuss – just act normal?

nothing is normal here, nothing is ordinary
not the shell on the beach
not the sea that brought the shells
not the wind that made the waves

doubting’s allowed
because the churches of the true faiths
have no more to say about truth
than you and I

so, briefly,
this quick note, while the light disappears
as surely as this language in which I write:

sitting in the compartment
are two women and a young man
separated from each other
by headphones
with screens to scroll and swipe
in front of their eyes
do they see me, fever dreaming on the sofa?

blow my nose, take a tablet
night coughs past the windows
am I on the right track?

it’s not that I write because I know so much
in my poems about truth
the words creak

and I doubt the voices on the web, the voices
in my head and the voice from the speaker that says

‘the next stop is
Utopia – please remember
to alight on the left’

this left?

the other left!’

doubting’s allowed
because Aggie said so
because Wisława said so
because Etgar says so!

postpone belief
admit mystery
on the columns page of struggling newspapers
in the tangles of dominance
in my cooling heart and overstimulated, prickly head

admit confusion
in the dull firework explosions up past Dokkum
in the darkness of the mud flats
in the rain splashing on the alleys of this sparkling city

one person’s shitty weather
is another’s cuddling season

at night when my bed is on the coast
and there’s a bustling in the air

when I fly with the animals
and pray without god

when the wind shows the way
and a child at bedtime
silently counts the earth

let the unknown in so that all our delicate connections
don’t come between us

three frisians go to the doctor’s
the barman asks: what’s your pleasure?
the first frisian says

stars don’t exist
the devil sticks them on the night
to make fun of us

the second frisian says

stars don’t exist
our lord puts them in the sky
to test our faith

the third frisian says

a piece of this puzzle is missing

I think, but

who knows

I say, who knows


Translation: David Colmer