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Gytis Norvilas (b.1976) is a poet translator and essayist. He graduated from Vilnius University having studied theories of history and cultural theory. Norvilas has published three poetry collections: Stoneshards (2002), Breakfast of Locusts (2006) and Discharge Zones (2012). His first book won the Druskininkai Poetry Fall award for most significant debut. His latest book was recognized as the most creative book of 2013 by the Lithuanian Literature and Folklore Institute. He is a member of the Lithuanian Writer’s Union since 2010. He lives in Vilnius and is the editor of the weekly journal Literatūra ir Menas. His poetry has been translated into English, Bulgarian, Russian, Latvian, Georgian, German, Belarusian and Ukrainian.

a palmers chronicle right bw

Comics

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Gytis Norvilas, Mirror 1
 

Poems from the book “Sinking”

 

electrical substation

late autumn by the slaughterhouse, children sled from the foot of the hill towards the electrical substation. the transformers buzz and drone like a hornet’s nest, circulating the blood of the world. bare-headed children on scraps of linoleum on rotting leaves by the slaughterhouse late autumn – – –
parents worked in shifts.
clouds tightly packed in the sky, rubbing shoulders, divide up their zones of influence. it doesn’t snow anymore in these latitudes, the conditions determined by acid. boys ferry buckets of still warm suet from the back door of the slaughterhouse, pour them down the slope, then fly along the ground that turns almost black. they pour one pail after another, lessening the friction of everyday life. clouds tightly packed in the sky, rubbing shoulders, and geese jabber their emigration. on beautifully patterned linoleum scraps, childhood slips towards the transformer stack.

Gytis Norvilas 03Gytis Norvilas, A wedge

 


border

blinding sun, shadows so defined they separate from people and things to live their own lives. they swarm in packs, sell black-market machine-oil, used tires, rags, art, they elect their own government, create self-defense units, and idol-protection societies, they know the law, idolize fences, organize ambushes, and chew their own tails – let no one suspect them of competing with the rats. shadows are poor thieves. Usually, they lift the worthless shit. but they’re supported by foundations, cognizant of academic jargon, and profit from the contraband of darkness, light, and turpitude. such is the shadow economy. they’re a slippery stock, pretending, for the most part, to be artists, architects, ecclesiastics, men of conscience, specialists, professors, patriots, photographers – – –
they infest the earth’s body like fleas, and the earth tries to shake them off with quakes, or wash them off with tsunamis. but nothing doing – it’s not exactly hell – – –
not all the tracts in these latitudes are passable. and now, the zone swallowed by eclipse needs to be overcome, which, unfortunately, is expanding at pace. one has to ignore inertia and gravity, find a corner and build a fire at the back of the garden where a gigantic apple tree quietly stands. emigration is stimulated by idiocy and the shadow’s desire to kill. moreover, i’m already a stranger in my own dreams and can only get into them with a journalist’s accreditation, having to  unlace my shoes, shake them out – – –
the most frightening thing is that i don’t know what my own shadow is up to behind my back, repeating my movements – is he a mimic, or planning to jump on my back and slit my throat? this is why i avoid the sun in my face, always turning my back to the light, herding the shadow with my eyes, leading it on a leash – – –
i’m moving in directions unknown. not all the tracts in these latitudes are passable. check-points, shakedowns, bribes. usually i just play dumb. now the border guards are patting down Dante.

 

Gytis Norvilas 04Gytis Norvilas, the vision of one day

 

 


european litany through my god and smoke, or infidèle europe
        (mass for drums, triangle and six contrabasses)

        –drinking with Allen Ginsberg under the bridge

europe – woman, virgin, how attractive you are with the sun setting behind the alps
woman, virgin, to what cow-shed did the bull take you?
were you raped, tortured, bound to the sacrificial table?
why did you give in, did they want passwords, did they intoxicate you?
europe – you became a prison of laws, an incubator of lies
a sand-box in which catholics peep, selling pink Marias
you became a baroque altar adorned with bananas and petards

my god is cross-eyed
my god has the heart of a large whale and his fly is down
he comforts me when I wander in the grips of despair

europe – a wolf stuffed with dynamite sausage
europe – a beauty salon for the bloated, a museum for golden urinals
europe – the fellowship of nations with its teeth knocked out
europe – ground-up tourist meat crawling with maggots
europe – planes planes planes
europe – eat eat eat
europe – my rights my rights my
europe – dogs dogs dogs
europe – paradise of sport-coats, hatchery of bombs
europe – shrine of road worshipers and asphalt eaters
europe – eye of fear, heart of fear, nostrils of fear

virgin, die for us
heart, beat for us

my god is hungry as a litter of suckling hyenas
there’s a tiger in his belly-button ready to leap
my god can be loaned out
my god is not my god
my god is silent when full

europe – the association of crude-oil enemas
the decanter of verbal piss
a cosmocenter of washing-machines, refrigerators and vibrators
europe – house builder
building erecting, but god himself is not erect, well, it’s a fucked up crew – – –

europe – prison of art, art-morgue, there is no art here
art art art is not art, shit is art
there is no poetry, it died while it was dead
poetry needs to be a bone – to peeve the dogs
poetry has to be bones emerging from the earth after winter
poetry has to become peevetry
boiling glue from bones
with which to seal the letters to death and hell

my god is uneducated, with no illusions
my god is piloting a jet plane with his eyes tied
my god has a pig’s tail

your children – champions of feeding
your children – saints of impotence, eaters of ruberoid
your children – blowers, vulcanizers and wearers of condoms
your children – cleaning the rain gutters with their cocks
your children – playing with their neighbor’s bones while singing christmas carols
your children – from the tribe of sausage wankers

pity and shame – hold forth within me
virgin, flower – suffer for our sins

my god has bandy legs
my god crunches on the bones of our ancestors
my god is eternal, his grave is not paid for, dysfunctional
my god is lying in the grass
my god is rak-ing clay
quick-ly learn-ing how to syl-lab-ize, it’s work-ing
fuck-off

europe – a brothel with the doors kicked in
europe – Dionysus’ grave, Apollo’s shorts, Jesus’ stew-pot
europe – maternity ward of demons in which the midwives work with scythes
while Themis weighs cocaine, poppies and hashish in her balance scales

the longing and blood pour from my throat
good luck to you, good luck, repent for us as well

my god plows the fields with a moose’s pelvis
he mellows the fields with the spines of ants, undoes his pants before the potato planting

europe – statues statues statues
in whose eye-sockets lie wells of nonbeing
bishops tacked up with currency, where the gays at least know fashion – – –
europe – the cemetery of fleas jumping over string
everyone so cultured, yet there is nothing at all to lean on
europe – a retired prostitute with rotted nose
europe – why have your teeth fallen out?

child – kneel
child – swallow the earth to remember its dreams
child – live in the root-cellar to match the shouts of worms with song
child – gather nuts
child – fart in the streets without turning around
child – walk on your hands, sharing your artificial legs

my god is cross-eyed
my god has the heart of a large whale and his fly is down
my god is hungry as a litter of suckling hyenas
there’s a tiger in his belly-button ready to leap
my god can be loaned out
my god is not my god
my god is uneducated, with no illusions
my god is piloting a jet plane with his eyes tied
my god has a pig’s tail
he visits me when I lie with my bones breaking from loneliness

the dead must give up their places for the other dead
the living must finally rise from the dead

my god has bandy legs
my god crunches on the bones of our ancestors
my god plows the fields with a moose’s pelvis
he mellows the fields with the spines of ants, undoes his pants before the potato planting
my god spits straight
my god sows and waters the seed with a metal watering-can
my god does not rotate his crop
my god is not my god
my god builds a fire and cooks amanita on sundays
my god hangs out with St. Francis
my god my god my god
nothing is mine

the dead must give up their places for the other living
animals must abandon their pastures
the living must finally rise form the dead and eat dandelions

where are these people going, these caravans of the dead who abandon their cities and villages, their graves and cemeteries? with all their baggage, livestock, castrated dogs, decked-out children? what do they lack, why so anxious? an evacuation? did the petard factory explode, or some other chemical site? where are their planes flying, where are their train stations?

I know where they fly, where their stations are, their shrines – – –
I’m sitting on a burning backpack, platform 6, by the highway to NOWHERE

 


Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

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