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I’ve Learned Not to Be

From the book “Išmokau nebūti” (I’ve Learned Not to Be), 2011

 

In the city, quarantine

and mourning. everyone

waits for the snow.

 

on the facades, and

in the streets––

an indelible hideousness.

 

witches have multiplied.

they publish glitzy

books

about themselves.

 

shamans in the gateways

peddle amulets,

whose spells

have long gone stale.

 

Belarus, Poland––

burning fences

everywhere.

 

overturned trucks

with contraband

of winter.

 

meat is sold

by the road,

virtually free.

 

animals have emigrated,

along with the connoisseurs

of sacred script,

and any woman

who could walk.

 

only men

with fishing poles

and flags,

rocks

in their bosoms––

 

everyone

in one square,

so that it would be easier

to take them up

into heaven

and lock them up

until they sober.

 

in the window

of the facing house,

in the kitchen,

a light burns.

 

naked death

rummages through

the refrigerator.

 

it’s her

yellow jackboots

that shine

when she walks

the streets.

 

she notices me

and nods.

 

see you soon.

 

Easy Rider

 

i will ride

the blazing bus in the dark

  1. through the station

of insomniac bums

past the Soviet suburbs

of trenches, embrasures

and pill-boxes

 

i will ride

quietly smoldering in

an aquarium of flame

past tenement rows

through the dregs of darkness

eyeballs and teeth

shining white

 

i will watch

how the city closes up

into the fist of a flower

how its sandy

underground roots

stir and seek

 

i will ride

the blazing bus

 

farther

deeper

 

into the horrible

hospitality of nature

a damp refuge

of purling moss

 

i will ride

to try on wet

cold clothing

 

to lie

face-up

in an echoing spire

 

to burn out

 

 

 

 

***

only now do I understand

 

how much I hate

that greyness

how my ordinary life

is sticky and sweet

how order is my desire

and how that horrifies me

how peace possesses me

and loneliness drives me from home

how the trunks of pines by my house

radiate heat, how

finely the sand flows, how

green the lily’s lament

 

now I understand

 

translated by Rimas Uzgiris

 

FROM THE CYCLE “ANNOTATED PHOTOGRAPHS”

***

powerlessness, vanity –

i repeated

 

the city was oppressed

                 by a stone of heat

 

i cut down

those words

pulled out

syntax’s cartilage

ripped out the bones

of phonemes

 

reality wavers

language breaks

into the throat

with ache and lightning

 

the city was oppressed

                 by stones of heat

 

only its labyrinths

and butcher shops,

only its graves, morgues,

and churches

 

are cool

 

language unplugged

hardens

 

like a drop of wax

on a stone wall

 

From forthcoming book „švaraus buvimo“ (Of Clean Being) 

By Holy Lake

 

for daughter Ugne

 

i wait

until the small bright head

emerges from the water

eyes shut

frowning

red-faced

as if born again

tearing her way to the surface

again – with all her strength

thirsting to drink

of this world

 

this light

 

ineffable

Experience Europe

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