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Julius Keleras was born in Vilnius, Lithuania (1961). He is a poet, writer, children’s literature writer, playwright, translator and photo artist. Julius graduated from J. Tallat-Kelpsa Conservatory, Vilnius University (BA), UIC (MA) in the USA, 1992. Poetry was translated into Portuguese, Slovak, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Swedish, Polish, Latvian, Georgian, Italian, Maltese, Spanish, Japanese, Arab languages; his poems were published in magazines and anthologies of these countries. Author of 11 books of poetry. Received various awards for the books of poetry, haiku and photography.

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reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

Photo by Julius Keleras

from Ukmergė poems cycle

 

 

evening at the grandparents' house, I enter the room 

press the switch and the graveyards
will no longer be lit, press it press it,

you can't predict anything,
just press this white button,

this almost invisible button, here
where stairs lead to the loft,
and alien feet swiftly run off 

maybe it's a post-war child, head covered
with a towel  

perhaps your father, young, not yet
grown up, 

this is his childhood, not yours

 

 

a reading lesson

a fly is trying to rise up from my
poem page, unsuccessfully –
most likely she needs just one more stair, or
one more little step, or a nudge in the back –
but maybe she just lacks inspiration

suddenly she looks up
and without hesitation flies over
to a stack of books

apparently, she’s read everything
but I have summer
for the full list of required books

 

 

Orthodox cemetery. Ukmergė

I keep taking that path,
soon it’ll head towards the cemetery
and the landfill pits 

until I reach the furniture factory’s
brick wall
the compass of the cherry tree
points the way home

Grandad and Granny are playing cards,
Rainis the cat sleeps on Granny Genutė’s lap
I’ll come in quietly, to not awaken him

you never know
what can flash at night –
in landfill or cemetery

maybe the watching eye of a dead man –
let them sleep,
I draw the curtains 

I’ll dream myself
posed like an angel
waiting for the dawn

mornings, trucks feed
the landfill pit
like the mouth of a giant

he’s the only non-believer here

 

 

the places for dying. Ukmergė

there was no railway there

I only remember the bus station
and two entrances – the old
and the new – to this local Rome –

past the hospital,
then past the children's hospital –
then just at the turn
and downhill to the grandparents

the red brick children’s
hospital –
in our family, everyone was always
sick at home

where did the old folks die?
I don't remember

 

 

in which drawer?

soupspoons? teaspoons? forks?
in which drawer did they lie?

in the cupboard by the window or on the right,
in the chest of drawers, where on  the upper
shelf behind the glass stood
the white thick jars
painted with spotted green peas?

let's not forget, of course,
the sugar bowls, also dotted
with green peas

I'm coming closer, but I wonder
If I’ll ever get there

 

 

grandmother’s button box

it would have been better then
if I hadn’t touched a single one

the red one, a currant –
it wasn’t even acidic

the next one, green as a gooseberry
but without the slightest bit of fur

the third, a blue one, not a lollipop at all,
nor a berry, as untasty as an eraser

that yellow one, seemed bigger
from a distance, looked like a cherry

the black one, I’d never tasted anything
like it, and it, too, couldn’t be bitten through

they were all unsweet and, besides,
each of them had two holes

 

 

1966, end of August 

probably I’m unindictable,
looking at you, rising Sun,
rising over Ukmergė,
where Grandfather's inclined face glows
next to the overnight-ripened gooseberries,
next to the colored laundry flags

 

 

 

All poems translated by Al Zolynas

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