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Poems by Joop Bersee

In memory of my late father (1921-2013)

Black shape

You disappear into the forest.
It is getting dark.
You slowly move forward.
I stay behind.

You become like a toy.
You are no longer there to say yes or no.
Tell me what to do.
I shut your eyes, they open again.
I keep them closed for a while.

It begins to rain in the forest.
An owl flies past us, its silence given away
by the black shape between the trees.

The Old King Died

The old king died.
His colours changed.
Colours of another place.
Flag with its own throne.
A man on a planet of ashes.

The clock on the wall consumed him.
My watch breathing,
the world spinning thinking eating.

Heavy dark velvet
put around my shoulders.
This heavy nakedness.
Wild river unconquered.

Water and blood

I measure your hands and your face
as if they would change after death.

I see the colour of your face change
from pale to a shade of yellow
melting all around.
No resurrection.

The underworld
in this room of nurses, secret orchids.
Medication to end your circle of light,
inviting the words you cannot speak.

Your silence, words of granite.
I cry like a birth.

Your last movements are carved in stone.
The nurses’ razor removed the first layer.

They slowly stripped you of summer.
Buried your name on a piece of paper.

I have seen all this, blind, crushed.
Where is the water and the blood?

It is between my fingers, veins and sweat.
And you see all secrets like a dandelion.


In mourning with a begging bowl
to retain the warm moments and love.

I brood all day backwards
feeling his voice so strongly before the dark.

Gleaming silence like snow asks for footprints
for childhood the way back.

But flames have stopped a singing bird
and the moon is a factory. Isn’t it?

Time has succeeded

Time has succeeded
as it has since the first breath,
the twelve footsteps we receive
when conceived.

We stretch time with blood and books,
war crime and art
but sleep through the invisible door
as the crows polish their gloves.