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The poet Nerijus Cibulskas is an author of two poetry books: Nutrinami [Erasables] and Archeologija [Archeology]. His poetry is calm and thoughtful, yet full of internal tensions; it often conveys elements of landscape and images of our surroundings. His lyricism hews closely to the Scandinavian tradition. Archeologija, according to the publisher, deals with “contemporary experiences, hidden beneath a painterly layer of images.” It has a quiet surface whose figurative language hides depth and emotion. Cibulskas is a master of metaphor and simile, subtly conveying internal experience and the relationship between humans and nature.

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Arūnas Kulikauskas, Palanga, 2011. 28x35,5 cm. From The Modern Art Center collection
 

Poems from the book „Archeology“

 

***

The field of victims shrinks to a gravel road in spring.
Some four green bodies lie in the dust. The same ones
we saw basking on the warming lake shore.

Now – just crushed lead slough. The former act
of jumping has become an inert, spread-eagled
noun.

With the husk of windy days open, with the rind
of the forest landscape peeled, the clear sap
of serenity seeps through the gaps.

Not much is left of you when you decide to migrate
across the road to where the grass, it seems, is richer
than the madness that was trimmed once before.

The only thing you relied on in that dusty front –
you know what the madness looks like. We wave
the white flags of our headlights as we drive
back at night from the supermarket.

A deserting hedgehog squirts from under our wheels,
a small piece of meat trusting its grey camouflage.
Thusly, we momentarily see reality, crawling through
the trenches, showing its spikes to the outside world.

 

Indianas

They cut down the blue arborvita. They cut away
the shadow above the gravel pit. They trimmed
the wild stones of the field’s fence.


One summer morning, collecting mica, shards
of the devil’s nails, we crawled around the empty
wheel of a well without a break, beating different
time signatures on the dew covered curb.

The tic-tock heat shakes out currant bushes. My great-grandmother
holds a pear tree with one hand, her ceremonial staff
in the other – she who rises slowly, now walks slowly
back to the cool parlor soaked in drops of light.
More slowly, too slowly for me, she stretches out her hand –    

It holds a white sugar cube. A heavy wind
drags itself through the yard. The copper
kerosene lamp sways from the eaves.

If Mirta were alive, we would run through rushes,
carve wooden swords, draw women’s faces on
stolen sheets of veneer. With sea buckthorn berries,
we lit a wayward path to a swampy carp pond.

I ask myself, on all saints’ day, who lopped off
the bent, blue arborvita. Who cut us down,
the two most plucky Indianas of our yard, wandering
on the other side of the tracks of dawn.

 

Yalta

It’s no winter garden, but a quickly patched up, paltry
greenhouse. Cheap speakers just about drown out
the distant cracklings from Ipanema beach. A few
ashtrays, benches for two. In other words, a smoking room
for noncommittal conversations, as expected of fashionable youth
still growing into the complex geography of nightlife unknown.
The vines – heavy as the steel cables of harbors.
Rich green layers of summer tempera, ripened on the other side of glass.
The sudden rain, it seems, will have no end. Melted marble
murmurs in soft gloom. One could momentarily think it’s the tropics,
this whole place getting ready for a flood.
But now, I remember something inappropriately taken,
not a heavy ashtray under a t-shirt, maybe not even time,
which after such a rain washes itself off like a sadhu.
It was the future that was taken, allotted to each already on that night,
perfunctorily stuffed into separate bags by the door,
mewing like a blind kitten unheard, carried to the swollen stream.

 


Nida Blues

We rest by the orderly graves,
wing beats of gulls in a watery sky –
it can’t get more blue than this.

Long conversations in a longer terrace –
a coarse, thick layer of acrylic, only visible
up close to unfamiliar paintings.

We have enough evening left
to scratch it off the surface –
under which, maybe nothing.

 

Evidence

The white silhouette of a full moon.
Damp furrows, alleys in wild fields.
All those caught in the interrogating light
shake summer out of their pockets.

The highway grows like a stalactite,
sneaking up on unsuspecting towns.
These few short hours will suffice
to clear out our lonely hotels.

In them – our baggage.    
Wide-eyed urchins seized
with the chocolate stains
of night on their lips.

 

Trampoline

Out back, by an old weed patch,            
stands a faded trampoline.
After rain, rust pitilessly
gnaws the scrawny springs.

It rains every day. Achilles’ tendons
are undermined. The tarp
could just as easily have been
a kite catching the wind.

The metal frame –
a tool that could be useful.
But next to it now, on Sundays,
sits a boy with an empty gaze.

A merry-go-round turns
fitfully inside, as imagination
furiously draws frolicking feet.

One day, maybe in spring,
he’ll jump. You can almost hear
the springs tense up with longing.

 

 Translated by Rimas Užgiris

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