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Karolis Baublys (b. 1982) is a poet and critic. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Lithuanian Philology and an MA in World Literature from Vilnius University. He worked as an editor of a literary criticism section of the weekly magazine Literatūra ir menas. His poetry has appeared in such publications as Literatūra ir menas, Šiaurės Atėnai and Nemunas. Baublys lives in Paris since 2010, where he graduated with an MA in Film and Audiovisual Studies from the New Sorbonne University. He is currently pursuing a doctoral study in Cinematography at Aix-Marseille University.
„The Iron Wind Vane“ is his first poetry book.

reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

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Violeta Bubelytė, Nude 79, 1996. From the MO Museum collection
Poems from the book “The Iron Weathervane”
 
 
 
Orange Peels

autumn refracts like gold through dusty curtains
and a mahogany closet brims with summer skirts –
lost in the cosmetics drawer
between toy cars and your mother’s dreams
you search and search
you grey-eyed boy

clutching orange peels in a childish fist
you wait for the weekend when through woven ivy fingers
a slender tongue of light slips through
and the guest arrives

a bearded stranger with the stench of sweat
is that you
father? –
just the scent of oranges in the furrows of your palm
just the golden ivy fingers
through the open window

 

Home

a street whose name was changed,
crumbling brick facades, cracked stairs,
freezing hands as when I clutched a snotty bib,
gypsies laugh, the homeless sport tired eyes, careful footsteps
at once approaching and departing
with the hum of passing cars
with the scent of rain, red clusters of rowan berries
and a faded fresco from the imperfect tense,
silent trees
barely holding up their mature knotted hands,
peeling plaster fragments of Giotto Masaccio da Vinci
from the 15th or 16th centuries when I was six
and my fingers were smudged with the frost of bitter white paint,
the smell of the flat on the third floor
who lives there? does the cracked grandfather clock still hang
with its hands held still at half past four?
the flavor of melted ice-cream on a Sunday,
the creak of doors and rustling ivy
apples lie scattered on the table
crumbling porcelain has saved the still warm touch
of mother,
an old woman’s patched mantle, a brass mirror
with the fading faces of my family tree,
silence
while on the other side of the street
the rowan of sadness freezes
in bloom

 

Two Points on a Curve

I. The Final Journey

a raft of five logs
in a swollen river
and your shadow too
my brother
where are you

you flew with the naive birds
spreading their wings too soon
when the coarse fingers of September
barely touched the cool of fall

in which direction should I look
how do I recognize your footprints
lost
on the surface of limpid water

you were supposed to become a writer
or a philosopher at least an ordinary village teacher
you were supposed to create new worlds
from the rich imagination of an Icarus
to marry
the most beautiful blond in town
and teach your little brother
clever tricks

you gave your life to me
my brother
choosing the labyrinth of unbeing
you left to meet the golden fall
instead of imbibing the refreshing rain of spring

the bleeding maples
understood your choice
and the Minotaur accepted your sacrifice
with a respectful smile

you are not my ideal
my brother
but mutely show the way
with the cracked mirror of childhood
like a weathervane
above your stoney grave


II. The Architect’s Yawn

the stones are sleeping
and sand gently fondles their hard planes
an iron weathervane above the grave
sings its quiet song

we die rich
with experience, memories
and a cracked wisdom
about the beginning and the end
about that
which is disposed between two points
on a sine curve
in a lightning’s flash

everything passes!
caws a crow
rocking on a willow branch

a sobbing angel
perches on a stone
raking up, with small handfuls, sand

the big-bellied architect of the world
yawns in boredom
and releases a gust of wind
from his giant sling
forcing the willow’s crow
to hide in a hollow
as the sand blows
into the angel’s sodden eyes

the iron weathervane above the grave
answers the hoarse voice of the wind
by turning its quiet song into a scream

the sleepy architect flinches
and clumsily picks his left ear
inserts ear plugs
and turns over on his side
satisfied
asleep

 

Caravaggio

Thou art an elm, my husband, I a vine,
Whose weakness, married to thy stronger state,
Makes me with thy strength to communicate.
           – Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors, Act 2, Scene 2

cold steel touches the pulsing artery of his neck
eyes black as elderberries
show their fear of death

you came
the master-mistress of my passion
from the pages of not-Shakespeare, not-the-renaissance and not-the-baroque
but from dirty dead-end bars and cafés
a stoned cosmopolitan in a cloud of cigarettes and grass
you gave me wine, coffee and wisdom at Café de Paris
whispering about the ancient world and renaissance
you are not pure, you wild rogue
your canvases may be so
you painted me, you played the zither
you taught women to fuck, drink and smoke
to search for wisdom
to create
you were the first music of the body
breaking its silence

Michelangelo is jealous of your talent
but the flavor of betrayal would drive him mad
my king
faithfulness was just childish foolishness
a woman’s artifice to you
I’m tired of playing the fool
and your paintings make me sad
and vengeful

red wine in a sliced throat
black elderberries
in the place of eyes


I Choose Life

Poeta delle ceneri

the blink of an eye
on Rue de Rivoli

no need to follow
all the way to Algiers

a black-eyed Gigolo
with yellow blossoms in his hair

who sold his love
for thirty euros

a body

put together with talent
more noteworthy than those puffy-cheeked
youth
from the pathos of Caravaggio’s canvases

qui je suis
you are more beautiful than a work of art

let the affected Oscar Wilde choke
let his aesthetic ears
fall off

I choose not art
but life

poetry can’t replace
the body’s sensual intimacy
and yellow blossoms swallowed
in the blink of an eye

 

The Birth of a Beast

save me
from the bare shoulder
from suffering St. Sebastian
from the face of David
from Patroclus’s graceful back
from the sleeping Endymion
cristo alla colonna
they have become expensive escorts
in dirty Parisian streets

save me
from the fat wallet
stuffed with urbane temptation
thirty good deeds
for an hour of masturbation with the savior
medicine for depression
temporarily healing the weak

save me
from too big a caliber
as clutching a revolver
I’ll lay out all the thankless Davids
and hypocritical Patrocluses
with holes in their skulls

save me
from dark-eyed, unblinking glares
from the magnetic pull of fire
and of colored tattoos
with the scent of jasmine

save me
from the desire to love
not David or Patroclus
not the feeble body of Christ
but your dark gaze
that turns me into
a beast

 

 

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

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