Posts Tagged ‘Stockholm’

Source: Loss…..Alla Helgons Dag, All Saints Day, a poem in a prose shroud

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It wasn’t the noose, it was the bullet.

I looked around the flat for meaning. It was sparsely furnished, with only a couple of side chairs, a table and a sofa, three seat, blue in colour, with a warm yellow woollen blanket and a pillow on it, it served as his bed. Together it barely filled an otherwise empty space. A chair lie overturned in the middle of the floor next to the broken coffee table, oak, matching the parquet floor. The length of rope dangled ominously across the chair and table. On the floor I found two pictures in wooden frames. I had seen them before, Pictures of his beloved family. Aziz showed them to anyone who came to visit, but few ever came.

The day tried to peek its way in through the windows, casting what seemed a cruel light upon what lay on the floor. As I set the telephone back into the charger, I thought back to our conversations. They often revolved around his family. How his father had taught him to be a handyman, but also pushed him to become a doctor, and he did, a very good doctor in fact. His father told him that if a man is good with his hands, if he can find the patience to work well with wood, then he has the mindfulness to do anything. He had intended to pass that along to a son but was denied the chance.

Aziz never finished telling me what happened on August 27th, 2012, around noon. They knew about the fighting that had started but it hadn’t reached Damascus yet… The unrest in the poorer areas had grown and gross violence was becoming the norm. He told me the shelling started on the other side of the city at around 8:00 a.m. They started to grab what they could quickly. Aziz went downstairs to secure the transport when the mortar hit. His eyes filled with tears when he told me about his wife and two daughters, who did not survive, and all he could do was to wave me away, unable to say more.

In the ensuing days, he tried to use his considerable skills as a doctor to help the injured but realized he had to leave Damascus when a colleague of his was kidnapped by the fighters for a 100,000£ ransom. This is not an uncommon occurrence, he tells me. He left his office, his practice, everything behind for the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. The camp had been established about a month earlier and was already overpopulated. Protests were held daily about the lack of food and accommodation. Not long after his arrival he met a man who claimed that for a substantial fee he could offer him passage to Europe.

Unable to put the loss of his family behind him, Aziz was hoping for a new life here. Raised in an upper class environment in Damascus, he had never been subjected to racial harassment before. His Muslim beliefs simply did not allow for such thought, he believed. The fact that he was still waiting for his immigration paperwork to finalize when he first heard the taunts didn’t help, he knew he couldn’t react in any way or risk being sent immediately back to Damascus, which would mean certain death. This once proud man became only a shadow of his jovial, funny, intelligent self. I often wondered what his life had been like earlier in Damascus, but now he rarely left his apartment.

One Tuesday, about a month ago, he ran across a flier on the bus seat advertising a rally in support of refugees from Syria, although he didn’t speak Swedish, he was able to understand the meaning. In a rare moment, he decided to attend. It was an October afternoon, a Sunday, when the rally was held at Medborgarplatsen here in Stockholm. About 350 showed up and speeches were made, in Swedish. Although Aziz couldn’t understand, it moved him to see this. Perhaps he was misjudging Sweden, perhaps it was the open minded country he had heard about after all. Then everything changed. A group of about 25 skinheads decided to show up. What started as shouting and fist waving soon turned very violent. Aziz tried to get away, but was stuck in the crowd. Bottles and rocks were being thrown and Aziz went into a panic. Visions of his homeland overcame his logic as he started to fight back. Grabbing a stick, he swung at two of the Nazis, hitting one, Ole, across the back. Ole turned and they stood almost face to face. Fortunately, the police arrived, Ole turned away to avoid another arrest, and Aziz ran to safety. Ole made a permanent memory of Aziz, however, vowing to revenge.

Aziz was devastated. I had no idea, until I read his notes, just how deeply his sorrow rooted itself. He told of the nights of darkness, nightly visions of the explosion and the loss of his family. The aloneness and isolation he felt here in Sweden made so much worse by the fracas with Ole. He had no way out. He couldn’t practice medicine. It would take seven years to become certified, and he felt completely trapped. He had decided to end it all.

The police arrived and the ambulance, no one could understand the noose around his neck or the bullet hole in the window. What was the connection?

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The door.  Introduction
This photo was taken last night as i waited for the bus to take me to work. As you can see it’s of a normal entry into a normal apartment building.  The outside is covered up with scaffolding and netting now because they are putting a new facade on.  I started to wonder who lived there? What stories do they have?  I’m going to use this door to tell their stories. Just a couple of paragraphs for each tenant together with a new edit of the pic, the lady who turns 100, the quiet guy no one remembers, the angry young man, the asylum seeker. I hope you find it intriguing

The first story in the sequence, The Door, part 1, Gunbrit

Early morning 25th of November,  a cold wet morning, Gunbrit awakened and thought back in time. Tomorrow would be her 100th birthday and she wondered if anyone would remember. Bengt, her husband had passed long ago, and she had not spoken to her only child, Ole, in years. She remembered the last conversation they had together. It was the First of May, International Workers Day. She had just found out that he was going to demonstrate with the Nazis. She told him she was ashamed of him and never wanted to see his face again. Those words haunted her as she faced the morning, as they had every morning since then. Sweden was, to her, the most free country in the world and her pride in that reputation was enormous. She had been a lifelong member of the left party, strong and proud in her belief in the equality of all, a fact which no doubt fuelled her adamant refusal to make amends with her son. She had, in fact, not spoken his name in years.
Though she was fragile of course, at her advanced age, she was still spry mentally and maintained a semblance of self sufficiency surprising for someone at 100 years. She got out of bed and went to start the day. Her home assistant would be there soon to help her with breakfast and all that went into her increasingly limited existence. She rarely left the apartment anymore for health reasons she felt  her world was collapsing in on it’s self.  She turned on the radio, the volume very high so she could hear it, Always station P1, she hadn’t missed the program “God Morgon Världen” in a very long time, she felt like she was friends with the hosts. It brought her pleasure to hear their voices. She remembered the flower shop that she and her late husband had opened down the block. They had owned it for 30 years before retiring. The money the had made selling it went to travel. They both loved life and always went with the moment, a fact that she never regretted even though she had precious little money now.

In the many years in the neighborhood she had made many friends, but sadly she had outlived those who had not moved on and she was always bad at staying in touch. That meant that there was no one around that she felt close to, that she could talk to or invite to a fika. Her upcoming birthday was a reminder of her isolation.

Maria was to be her assistant that day, she tried to be nice to Gunbrit but it was difficult. With her own problems to deal with and the work conditions, constant understaffing causing the most unreasonable demands, Maria didn’t have the time or energy to do what the job required. Gunbrit loved the flowers she brought, but always wished that Maria could stay longer. Maria had made plans to have a small celebration for her birthday tomorrow, a princess cake and a card together with flowers, but that was tomorrow. Today, she was running late and trying hard to get there on time. She knew that Gunbrit, even with her stubborn self sufficiency needed much help.

Digging her keys out of her handbag, Maria opened the door to find Gunbrit on the floor. She rushed to determine what had happened and if she was breathing. As she leaned over, she heard Gunbrit mutter a word with her last breath, a word she hadn’t said in decades, “Ole”

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I feel these walls
Stone fingers tracing my skin
Tugging on my coat
Flipping their nails at the brim of my cap

They whisper to me
Comforting me with silent coffee
Espresso moments of clarity
Gazing through the eyes of the carpet
Out through the windows they provide me
Threaded together through woollen eyelids
Straining to find myself in the fields of brown wool

I know the world is there
I can smell the trees
I can taste the mead
Christmas tree branches reach back forever

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The immigrant as knight plays chess with the locals at Kulturhuset,

He always draws the black chess pieces

The immigrant as knight understands the coincidence


The immigrant as knight, drunk naked and bloody, crawls down the center aisle of Storkyrkan with the cross carved into his chest


The immigrant as knight overhears the story of the gold was taken from the churches in Sweden

He rips his gold fillings out and offers them to the priest


The immigrant as knight always wears a Che Guevara T-shirt

He rips his shirt off, waving the image into the faces of the locals at Café Gråmunken

The immigrant as knight has no idea who Che Guevara is


The immigrant as knight recalls the stories of the Stockholm blood bath

He washes the cobblestones at Stortorget with the blood of his fallen comrades, the songs of the partisans filling his mind


The immigrant as knight leans on Evert Taubes shoulder peering into the night for a taxi he can’t pay for

The immigrant as knight offers him his white steed


The immigrant as knight wanders around the museums searching for truth

He sees himself impaled at Galgbacken and whips himself in pity

The immigrant as knight nearly gives up his quest


The immigrant as knight speaks in tongues

He climbs Katarinahissen, believing it’s the tower of Babel,
nearly throwing himself off before reaching the top


The immigrant as knight plays chess with the locals at Kulturhuset

He always draws the white chess pieces

The immigrant as knight does not understand the coincidence


The immigrant as knight wants to save your soul

DLH 24-01-07



Invandraren som Riddare


Invandraren som Riddare spelar schack med Stockholmarna i Kulturhuset

Han spelar alltid med de svarta pjäserna

Invandraren som Riddare förstår tillfälligheternas spel


Invandraren som Riddare, berusad, blodig och naken, kryper längs Storkyrkans mittgång med en kors inskuret  i sitt bröst


Invandraren som Riddare snappar upp berättelsen om hur guldet togs från kyrkorna i Sverige

Han river ut sinna guldfyllningar och erbjuder dem till prästen


Invandraren som Riddare har alltid på sig en Che Guevara-t-shirt

Han sliter av sig sin tröja och viftar med bilden framför gästernas ansikten på Cafe Gråmunken

Invandraren som Riddare vet inte vem Che Guevara är


Invandraren som Riddare kommer ihåg berättelsen om Stockholms blodbad

Han tvättar kullerstenarna på Stortorget med sina fallna vapenbröders blod, och hans huvud fylls av partisanernas sånger


Invandraren som Riddare lutar sig mot Evert Taubes axel, väntar i natten på en taxi han inte kan betala för

Invandraren som Riddare erbjuder honom sin vita fåle


Invandraren som Riddare vandrar runt musuem för att söka sänningen

Han ser sig själv genomborrad på Galgbacken och spöar sig i självömkan

Invandraren som Riddare ganskar ge upp hoppet


Invandraren som Riddare talar i tungor

Han klättrar uppför Katarinahissen, i tron att den är Babels torn,

Kastar sig nästan ut innan han når toppen


Invandraren som Riddare spelar schack med Stockholmarna i Kulturhuset

Han spelar alltid med de vita pjäserna

Invandraren som Riddare förstår inte tillfälligheternas spel


Invandraren som Riddare vill bevara din själ


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Welcome to my spot, have a seat make a cappuccino, take a biscotti or a glass of wine. Read a little and talk to me. I know this is supposed to be my blog, but without feedback it’s worthless. I’m after an exchange of ideas. My 2 most favorite words in the world are freedom and empowerment. We can’t have either if we don’t exchange ideas and help each other grow, so let me hear from you!!

A few things i love…

Flowers, gardening, freedom,, justice, writing, protesting (LOL) although I wish it wasn’t necessary, fireworks, travel, new countries new cultures, poetry, psychology, CG Jung, (hate Freud) Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zant, U2, going to the country, my adopted home of Stockholm, my wonderful wife, my family, good food and good wine, going to the Stockholm Archipelago, swimming, being lazy on my days off, and more.

I’m sure we can find some common ground!!

Let’s chat!

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