Roman Nights



It’s New Year’s Eve, I’m standing newly divorced

on a roof in a town, we toast

the rockets wobble on their way

what a party

what an opportunity, almost an imperative

to think something

and do something about what you’ve thought


I think


I’m here now


I think


What do I need


Consumption inspires strength of mind even though it’s mindless

but that’s a bad sentence

to start a new year with, even though it’s true


I need:

new beginnings, new maxims, new year’s resolutions


Of others I know only that it sucks the life out of a human being

never to say thank you

and to thank too much

you have to do your own thing, put yourself first


or precisely don’t think so much

don’t follow your desires, but pursue them

and hope you don’t turn into some kind of monster on the way

a monster that pulls things off the shelves with a dead automation

and is itself anderswo engagiert

and moreover has been so for a long time

a monster that rattles around with its shopping trolley


A new year’s resolution: Don’t listen to too much twaddle

that separates you from yourself

but that’s difficult to live up to

that’s why you need a resolution


A new year’s resolution: Listen to much and many

because you can’t know beforehand what you’re missing

what you’ll miss due to prejudice and stupidity

so let it be a new year’s resolution

to be less prejudiced

and lazy and stupid

but that’s difficult to live up to


I’m here now

in the midst of life


Life which like time shifts restlessly in the sofa

but never goes away

life which is the opposite of death

and death which is a euphemism for somethingorother

orgasm, happiness, peace at long last, some peace and quiet

imagine! to be able to just lounge  in the big, silent house

where only tiredness moves


A new year’s resolution: Try not to read everything

as if it were entrails or coffee grounds

try not to long for everything too much

try not to apologise for everything

the apology is like the thank you a stupid place

to be conscripted

fanaticism is so unbecoming


I speak to myself in the imperative: Remember!

that everyone knows a handful of psychopaths

who live their lives as though they were the only person in it

these people aren’t capable of much

apart from working and partying and having sex


Make it therefore a new year’s resolution

to recognise these people

employ them, go drinking with them, fuck them

they’re good at it






The need for a good opening, a good entry and exit

to and from all of life’s relationships is, well, what is it

present I suppose

like these nights, relatively rare, almost ancient

as if they came to us from a far away place

but what use are they

other than as decoration and affirmation

as if it weren’t already plenty

to be decorated and be affirmed

in Rome in a clean suit on the way to the baths


I’m also on my way to another sort of baths

a place where you can submerge your soul in the warm water, as the advert promises

together with your body

in the hope that it might peel off like the labels on jam jars

in the hope that it might remain lying at the bottom of the tub

and then leave me in peace for a while, scrubbed and new

the soul, or whatever we should call it, memory perhaps

memory which never sleeps

memory which treacherously remembers

discomfort more vividly than joy

quite simply scrubbed away, on its way, out with the bath water


But humans have humbler, simpler desires:

a cold, clear autumn morning, quiet

dumbfounded deer in the field, warm coffee

and the steam from it, the fire crackling carefully in the wood-burning stove

so little as you can make do with



A single lamp shines outside

it looks yellow and showy in front of the sleeping house

I ought to sleep

but I can’t, in any case:

it’s better to work

than to be poor

and not work


The house is quiet in a promising secretive way

even though the cause of the unconsciousnesses probably lies hidden

in the labour market’s more prosaic and unpromising boxes


I thought of writing to you about what I see from my window

(amongst other things: a scaffolded chimney on a thatched roof

subjected to some kind of long-term repair)

almost as though the view itself could tell you about my life

which it so conscientiously keeps an eye on



This is an excerpt from Romersker nætter, first published in Denmark by Tiderne Skifter, 2013.



was born in 1978 and lives in Copenhagen. He has published seven collections of poetry, most recently Roman Nights (2013) and the long poem The Field (2010). Serup has been involved in editing the literary journals Apparatur, Litlive, Hvedekorn and is since 2011 a member of the literary blog collective Promenaden. He was awarded the Michael Strunge Prize for poetry.

Christopher Sand-Iversen was born in Cardiff in 1981, and currently lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. He studied Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and Visual Culture at the University of Copenhagen. He is the Co-founder and Curator of 68 Square Metres, an independent exhibition space in Copenhagen, and has over the years translated a number of leading Danish authors.



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