A Selection of Poems


How dare the waves rise
and break against the shore?
I watch them disappear
gone forevermore

I have so many questions
want to know it all
How can the waves break
and rise from the fall?

–Lene Fogelberg, 12 years old, Fjärås, Sweden
June 1989 (translated from Swedish)


The city heaves its chest
through chimneys
and rusty exhaust pipes

Cars, motorbikes, taxis, buses
fill in the city’s coloring-book
humming the song of the paycheck
of food and shelter

a gray haze
colors outside the lines
wrapping the skyscrapers in a forged sky
paintbrush dipped in dirty water

His brow in the clouds
the child squints like an old man
looking up at mama
What color is heaven?

She shakes the bottled water
holding it up to the gutter
–inverted brown water–
Like this.

–Lene Fogelberg, Jakarta, September 2015


Around me:
hard and heavy
sharp and pointy objects
vehicles for speed
glass, metal, concrete–
things that are sure, loud, articulate
Generals in command:

Inside me:
soft and light
shapeless tender touches
roadsigns in lightyears
fire, stars, smoke–
they come gently, calmly, quietly
tapping inside my chest:
At ease.

–Lene Fogelberg, Kuala Lumpur, May 2016

Naked Fears

Wrap me in new words of comfort
the old ones are frayed and torn
I tug at the hem of a worn
there there
to cover my naked fears

–Lene Fogelberg, November 2016


Time cheats us
Compresses years
To seconds
You grow up
You are gone

Condense oceans
Into tears
For your smile
For your eyes

Days fool us
Conceal the night
In plain sight
You wake up
Fall asleep

But we cheat all:
Combine our loss
With our love
That is our

–Lene Fogelberg, October 2015

Under a Kayu Abu Tree in Bali

I sense a language
in leaves turned to the sun
their thin bodies eyeless, mouthless, armless,
a chorus in green-Dur

I hear the music
lifting my face to the sky
eyes closed, silent, still,
to the joys and pains of growing

I feel the words
dancing in light and shadow
on my eyelids, my lips, my plains of skin,
to be uttered

I carry the signature
written in my soul
invisible, inaudible, untouchable,
for the artist

I sense a language
in my frail bones of dust
my blindness, my silence, my stillness,
not dust, but star dust

–Lene Fogelberg, October 2015


I am a proud warrior
of the tribe of the heart
my scars telling of my battles

I have my victory speech
written on my body
reminding me that I survived

I have my prayer
engraved on my skin:
thank you for this day

I have my poem of pain
scribbled in red ink on my chest
faded by time

I am a proud warrior
of the tribe of the heart
and I claim this body as mine

–Lene Fogelberg, October 2015

The Story

The story is a splinter
aching in my heart:

Pull me out
hold me to the light

I am a question
coming from a forest of answers

–Lene Fogelberg, March 2016


A serpent of light
crawls under the curtain
telling me I’m in the dark

Out there are my maybes and mights
everything that’s sure and uncertain
the fire, the flame, the spark

–Lene Fogelberg, December 2016

Wring Me Out

Wring out my aching years
wring out the tears
wring me out
and lay me to dry
under a smiling sky

–Lene Fogelberg, November 2016

Rain in the City

I woke up to the rain

tapping on roofs
streaming down pipes
pooling on asphalt
knocking on windows

Where are the seeds?
The growing stems, the thirsty leaves?

I can hear the disappointment
the rain crying:
In vain, in vain, in vain

Then I saw a child
jumping in a puddle
turning up her face
stretching out her tongue

raindrops dancing on her head

–Lene Fogelberg, August 2017