turning forty these petite red buttons cover my body

like a moth-eaten haute couture swim suit from the 1930’s.

Only in Japan my cherry spots are ideal,

a full body tattoo of natural origin, ongoing, unending;

I don’t mind the freak show, I’m a legend– 

set the rest of me on fire, and keep

the cherry spots in a sacred bowl, will you,

it’s the performance of a lifetime– 

I do it every year under the falling blossoms

of a Tokyo city cherry tree. Last year

they made me into a solo adventure gamebook:

to set him on fire go to page six,

to set him on fire go to page twenty seven,

to set him on fire go to page ninety nine,

to set him on fire flip to next page.

The kind of superhero Cherry Spot Man is;

saving late spring and late summer,

setting the aftermath of other months on fire.

Had I only been thirty years younger,

my mother would definitely have sown

me the proper costume,

like she probably did sew

the black and red Michael Jackson outfit

with glove and all,

like she probably did sew

the red, white and yellow Salt ‘n Pepa outfit

with patches and all.

No real idol comes without a super hero-heroic set of costumes;

sometimes one grows on you, making you in stead of marking you;

suddenly changing your pitch as well,

like a second breaking of the voice,

as Darth Vader would understand, as Batman would understand,

the third voice of one’s life, if not a flute a fluent flare,

only giving in, lastly,

for the crumbling voice of old age.

Cherry Spot Man has the voice of one spitting pits in between vowels.

Cherry Spot Man, not unlike the Rat-Catcher of Hamelin,

bringing the flight of insects into a pitfall

towards the nectar of cherry trees.

“That’s not particularly heroic, man,”

a villain shouts. Well, let me tell you,

it’s a local phenomenon, and during limited time frames,

but more importantly, the rest of the year

I’m at service as the world’s only authorized

dry cleaner of super hero suits and attributes.

For me to become Cherry Spot Man


go to the unpaginated pages

and never return to reality.

Cherry Spot Man, the second coming;

you will see his stigmata

retrogradely burst into full bloom–

go to page twelve to hear him say:

“I would look good in whiskers.”

Swedish poet Kristian Carlsson was born in 1978 and lives in Malmö. He writes both in Swedish and English. Since his debut in 1996, he has published more than 40 books, mainly poetry and conceptual writings. In addition to that Carlsson is the translator of about just as many books into Swedish. In 2018 Journeyman Books in Dhaka published “A Languishing Chain of Presence” and “Covering for Language”, two English volumes of new and selected poems from his entire career. Carlsson is also filmmaker, literary curator and publisher.

Photograph is from performance by Leif Holmstrand.

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