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Lina Ramona Vitkauskas (Lithuanian-American-Canadian, b. 1973) calls herself  a “photographer/poet of evaporating language”. She is the author of eight poetry books. Her newest book is, as she says, “a chapbook about mythical, female Baltic snipers called the White Stockings”. In her surrealistic, experimental poetry, she explores alienation and displacement. She writes about her Lithuanian-American experience, trying to make sense of her heritage, and about being “displaced in both cultures”. Lina Ramona’s poetry is a beautiful and delightfully strange mix of mythology, history, language experiments (with skillfully used insertions of Lithuanian language, myth and history), and grim contemporary realia. She rethinks that cultural mix, trying to meld contradictory and incompatible things. Only good poetry can do that.

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From the book cover of "White Stockings" by Lina Ramona Vitkauskas. Illustration Chelsea Brown.
 

Range

The world’s largest living thing is a fungus. It lives in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. The Armillaria ostoyae specimen takes up over 2,000 acres. Most Baltic peoples cannot resist wild mushrooms with rye bread and butter. It is a nourishing staple, a fulfilling meal from the forest—a reward for hunting and gathering them.

1.
We bulky mycelium hanging.
This whole operation without basis.
These smoky attendants attempt to translate us.
These constrictors are opportunities.
We wear them like wastepaper & wishbones.
We found a cerebellum with a stem.  

2.
The columnist:
noble & orphaned by obstructing facts.
These stolen, renewable networks;        
all of this dead information.
Down the hatch,
liquid courage,
gun metal
dripped
into tomorrow’s petri dish.

3.
Dendroid daughters, some soldiers snow-caked
& blessed by all the priests; cats melt into cobblestone streets.

4.
The copper of us.
We cogs & made from kindling.
We binary mechanics.
We need to take shelter        for winter.    

5.
O, Tevukas, klausyk manęs,
you sought me        pre-birth,
found me        po šlapiais lapais.

Range (Irena)

Alms from Alps,
laps from smalls
of backs to palms
open the scope
steppes to scan;
plasticize the subjects,
believe in our
uniforms, the
will to
shut me off
to genetically block
to build
the arms
to fight
the men
who put
me here
before
this visual
is inevitable.
This position,
this immovable,
this cinema—inevitable.
How can I fall in love
when you won’t
stand still?



Citizen (Lina)

I braided my hair until I found a bloody stalk,
yanked up with a sharp breath, as if I’d drowned.

My dreams of Gediminas:        
his tungsten ribcage,
fangs     flashing,
corpus          blown apart,
singular         carbon   flecks         
Lupus*-born.

I severed myself,      stabbed past nakties langai,
shadowed a flax-sprout child
spinning about the market,
her ankle ribbons stained & torn.

Vilnius streets sought me in shop windows.
Then creamy, desolate, iced faces     
retaliated me for being elsewhere native.
    
I transformed myself in her freezing rivers—
Lietuva burst a floret, yare devil, and a pixy.

*Lupus: Latin, wolf constellation
 

APIARY BEFORE US
(With excerpts from “Impostor With Housemaid’s Knee,” by Kristy Odelius)

They will get stung in this field,
as billy-witch mermaids sans
sequins, waitresses in a bath, (they
are sometimes referred to
as cockchafers) as thawing
quills, with prehensile ability.

They will grow swollen
in this field and carbonize
each curve. Romance has been
an ammonia twist, a stain
of synchronized trades. It is
the scrubbing of the wings,
as floorboards sheathed in ice,
that rubs knees and the grape
of mouths. To reach the cave,
to fall crisp and unmarked to
the reverse sky. To walk to the
swamp through the apiary,
each girl a laboratory.

 

CROSS-POLLINATION

They all use parasols
for crutches;
              double-back across felonies.

These girls skinned their editors alive,
these girls dissolved in the basement.

They hammer upon
mole telegraphs,
capsize the abacus,
place the horsehead in the bed;

their woolly floor plans unravel
with kindness.
They apologize to myself in the dark.

Their language is a murmur
but a murmur is not a word,
nor a whisper, not essence
nor infrastructure. They choke
without Sacajawea instinct for

what’s un-poison or
what’s starlet or
what’s furnished. What
limbs of one body,
what we didn’t know.

Through the thicket,
they lead one another,
cross-pollinate, grow soldiers
from planted stockings in the soil.

These girls are brave tailors
in the blur of impossible femme.

From the poet, Sa’di

 



MIGRATION

I teethe upon weathermen.
I am unbridled. Like the magazines say.
I storm the dentist. My technique is cloudy.
This fever-to-coyote-to-bilocation.
I’m the grainy-gelatin-girl who
understands the mob’s defection.
I get it.
I let them fight, let the boys fight,
cry them some shame and wash
the mountains until baked.
I am not your meter maid.
This is a park and snarl.
Here we are,
pinned to cotton
with mercy.

 

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