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Rimvydas Stankevičius

Poet, prose writer and  essayist Rimvydas Stankevičius (b. 1973) is the author of 7 poetry books, several books for children and two books of essays. He is The Poetry Spring laureate, has been awarded the Jotvingian prize and Jurga Ivanauskaitė prize.
He studied Lithuanian language at Vilnius University and has been working as a reporter at daily newspaper “Respublika”. In 2001 he worked at Lithuanian Television where he had a cultural broadcast “Kultūros spąstai”. In 2000 by his dramatization, director Saulius Mykolaitis staged a play “Stop mašina” in the Lithuanian National Drama Theater. In 2002 together with composer Rokas Radzevičius he created a rock opera “Jūratė ir Kastytis”. He also writes lyrics. His poetry has been translated into Polish, Swedish, Finnish, English and other languages. He lives in Vilnius.

reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

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Viktorija Daniliauskaitė, In the land of travelling lakes VII (Cycle), 1986. Colored linocut, 26 x 37.5 cm. From the MO Museum collection
 

 

blowing in, blowing away

I have long guessed what the wind really is –
   but kept quiet – fearing the madhouse

You close your eyes, and all
The books of the world run across your face
Like the lights of a passing car.
Even those that weren’t saved, that became ashes,
Even mine – the ones I didn’t start,
Lacking courage, themselves cowards.

You close your eyes, and your hair
Stands on end from free living energy –
The impersonal source
Of all that has yet to be.

You close your eyes, and are smacked
In the back by epochs from the gloom of time –
The yearning for a cleanly played chord –
Everything that was, and everything that lacked
A place to come to be.

You rip open your frozen lids, and time
Sears your skin, standing against the stream,
Dreams going out like candles – spare ammo
Dropped for us by parachute
At hopelessly outdated coordinates.

It’s the wind.
My voice in God’s ear.
The most modern voice of envy
Equipped with a target-tracking system.

It won’t relax until the target’s found.

 

 


Learning to Count: Zero

For the drunks, night-moths, suicides, and the mad

It is said that nature knows no zero.

But it exists
In our watches, glances, in the chink
Of champagne flutes…

Each of us has our exact midnight, our
Exact autumn, stains on the wet asphalt of memory…

Yours and Ours, Your and My darkness, stippled
With the yellowed palms of maples – like revenge on the starry sky,
Revenge on the graves scrawled with the tongues
Of candles…

How vast did the loneliness of that drunk woman
Have to be – now more than twenty years ago?
What was the value in gold carats
Of her madness?

A shining stroller, brimming
With still burning wicks, and the fatty,
Melting, writhing meat of candles, the sharp
Creaking motion, the sharp turns in the curves
Of the cemetery’s labyrinth:

“Hey you, want some love?” And after hawking phlegm,
Now with lowered voice, following on my heels as I flee:
“Make me a baby, you degenerate,
Give me a child.”

How many times did I turn around? How many
Times did I answer that woman? Not once
(crossed out, something written, as if trying to count, later,
everything assiduously blacked out).
So, then – not once?

Nature knows no zero.
It’s just a hole in our time
Through which the cold continuously flows
Together with loneliness and fear.

And sometimes – puffed up on drugs,
the moon (hey, you, you want some love?).

 

A Little Speech to Summon Love

Soft-bellied, slimy candles
Slink over the altar’s shrine.

Blood, despite being old and purblind,
Still treads the trails of it’s serfdom.

Grasses creep and bloom, they squirm
Under the earth with itchy underarms.

The naked vitality of the shoot
Stretches in the sunset’s mirror.

An owl hoots, grows hoarse,
A drop licks the blossom forced to flower – – –

– – –

The passion of the earth also has it’s scent.
The passion’s current sweetly and voluptuously
Pulses through your feet.

Rimvydas Stankevicius 03Viktorija Daniliauskaitė, Space Opening I, 1988. Colored linocut, 15.5 x 22 cm. From the MO Museum collection

 

Washing the Body

I still didn’t understand what belongs to me –
What they allow me to take when I leave.

Clothes were given, and clothes were taken away –
They always pushed the big ones on me,
So that I had to grow with aches and pains in order to fit
The proper size…

They even took away the bandages
Still stuck to my scars, my buttons too,
They ripped from my hands and memory
The books that had grown in
(the shoots of roots that stuck in my body
left red marks, rashes
that bitterly itched all night,
soiling my sleep)…

In the winter, they took away
The rickety voices of birds,
In the mornings – my fingers,
They even took away the power to know
If this were really happening, or no –
By day – fog and mist, by night – blizzards…

Now on three sides, it’s empty, empty, empty,
But from the fourth, a child’s ball
Painted with giraffes,
Still rolls up

Along with pine needles, the scent
Of bonfires and women,

Laughter,
The trembling, gusting of the soul…

So these are my remains.

And those tears?
They, damned things, were never mine –
They always ran up on me
From behind my eyes.

 

there is a witness

I was warned: “Don’t
Spend time alone – otherwise, you won’t
Be able to prove anything.”

So I was never alone –
Next to my bed I put
The corpse of a long-legged mosquito
With whom I shared my life’s events.

It seems that I became so bold in my single-room
That I fearlessly shared with him
Some of my plans, my fears,
My authorial anxieties –
Which at night I relied upon
To command him in God’s name
To move his legs,
Ordering him to change his pose, exercise
His locked limbs, forcing him
To fly until the spaces
And feverish vaults of my cell
Filled with light…

There, we both banged our heads
Against the bounds of knowing, falling together,
Near morning, like the dead,
Having given our all in our trials –
He – at my command, me – not.
And I preferred to run to rest
In the penumbral terraces of childhood, while he,
Most likely, ran somewhere into spring
To walk on the surface of water,
To bathe under showers of sunlight…

We both returned unwillingly
To that terrible playground
Where the ceilings crawl with sounds of muster,
And the smells of drying, crumbling corpses,
To psychic and physical fatigue, to the still burning
Light of the ages, to the inhuman efforts
Of two…

I can barely restrain myself from apologizing
To this heinously hounded soldier.
I can hardly keep myself from announcing
That someone is playing with me
Even more cruelly in his imagination,
That in these rags,
In these husks,
In the sheddings of these hours, I too,
I too, feel no joy
In the movements of my limbs.

Someone simply needs me
So as not to be alone,
So that he could, if needed,
Prove his existence.

 

Fire Ring

Will the grass here ever stretch itself out again
After bearing my leaden presence?

I’ve stood here too long with these listless hands,
The doors fluttering behind my back…

I’m still the same roof ridge for mice, moths and other life forms
That fly into me from out of the dark
Where the wind, un-milked, bellows under the window,
Where the lumps of my temples throb beneath my skin –
Because of my clenched jaws – a surfeit of patience –
Just crops left for winter, until needed –
Bags under my eyes, a scar above my left ear
Where I cut myself shaving,
Where I snoozed through the most important moments,
And walked the wrong roads, wrote the wrong books,
Gazed, in the wrong way, at a candle, at paintings in churches,
At the sea’s uneasy breath in my sleep…

Others also didn’t know until death what to do or how –
Somehow they found each other – left,
And not one of them is standing like this
In an empty field, rocked by gusts of rain…

But for me – for me there is no where else, no one to ask –
The trees speak to each other with aching frozen fingers,
But I don’t have those either, don’t have anywhere to take my things
And my thoughts that cost me so much life…

The grass, nevertheless, slowly stretches itself out.

Now, no one will tread on it for a long time,
Saying, “Don’t sit here, here there must have been a fire ring.”

 

 

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

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