Kerry Shawn Keys minibio

“I don’t know who I am, but I have many names and live in Vilnius,” says Kerry Shawn Keys, an American living in Lithuania of nineteen years now. He is a human orchestra: translator, poet, prose writer, author of children’s books, dramatist. Kerry has already become part of the Vilnius landscape and culture. The poet Sigitas Geda said about him, “by his presence and participation in the everyday life of Lithuanian poetry, he has made us stronger as well.” Kerry, though, calls himself an “outsider”, and outsiders are generally better at seeing certain things than locals or those ensconced in everyday life, in the “system”. A view from the side is always interesting, and with that in mind, the Vilnius Review has decided to begin publishing Kerry’s short, witty essays about Lithuania and Lithuanians. So, here, each month you will find "A Palmer's Chronicle".

vr banner19

vr banner19

reflections on belonging

Graphic Novels

Photo by Dainius Dirgėla

By Kerry Shawn Keys



Thermometers And Peas
a brief, embellished Memoir (from the book, Pienas (MILK). 

After the night Cur banged his head on the marble fireplace slab in the bar while dancing with Myrtle, his favorite hooker, Cur decided to protect himself by buying three thermometers. Three was holy, and only three would do to really see if he was sick. Or should be sick. Cur suspected that Myrtle had slipped his watch off his wrist just before his legs collapsed while swaying her close to the floor in her swinging-swooning routine. The bump above the temple was a public humiliation, but more embarrassing on a personal level was waking up in bed with a bag of half-frozen peas, half of them all over the sheets and smashed into his clothes. Cur had walked home in the bitter Winter cold in a daze, and a bag of frozen peas had always been his remedy for bruised and swollen bones or joints. On awakening at that moment in bed, Cur knew only two things: he knew he didn’t know the time, and he knew he needed to experiment with three thermometers. Cur didn’t know how many peas were on the bed, or if he had dreamt that he had banged his head on the fireplace mantel. After pondering for what seemed a millennium on the fact that he didn’t know the time and why he needed three thermometers, Cur gathered up the peas in his cap, and walked bareheaded the next afternoon back to the bar. He ordered a Margarita and threw the peas into the fireplace, watching them burn. Then Cur went to the pharmacy and bought three digital thermometers, and then to the store for three bags of frozen peas. That night, careful not to open or tear the bag of peas, Cur took one bag to bed with him, holding it to the side of his still swollen head, and putting the thermometer in his mouth. Cur dozed off, and the thermometer escaped dropping on the bed next to him. When Cur woke up he couldn’t tell if he had a fever or not. Cur got furious and broke the thermometer into three parts. The next night Cur took the second bag of peas out of the freezer and held it next to his head while at the same time sticking another thermometer under his left armpit, and again inadvertently dozed off. This thermometer also escaped dropping on the bed next to him. When Cur woke up he couldn’t tell if he had a fever or not. Cur got furious and broke the thermometer into three parts. The next night Cur got out the third bag of peas, held it to the side of his head, put the remaining thermometer up his ass, and fell serenely asleep dreaming he was a Greek shepherd screwing his flock as they were jumping over a fence. When Cur woke up, he was lying on his belly and the thermometer was still in his ass. Cur was afraid to take the thermometer out of his asshole and read it because in the journey from his asshole to his reading it, it might not give an accurate indication of his temperature, and he wouldn’t know if he was protected. So Cur wiggled his way to the telephone and called up Myrtle and asked her to come and do him a favor. Myrtle came, and Cur noticed Myrtle was wearing his watch. Myrtle noticed the thermometer in Cur’s ass. Cur asked Myrtle to read it. Myrtle bent over and read the temperature to Cur, and then handed him the thermometer. Cur’s temperature was normal! He was protected. Cur knew the experiment was over. Simultaneously, Myrtle asked Cur to trade the thermometer for the watch, and Cur asked Myrtle to trade the watch for the thermometer. They both grinned, proud of the deal. Cur stuck the watch up his ass so Myrtle wouldn’t steal it again on the dance floor, and Myrtle put the thermometer in her mouth as an ersatz cigarette since she had given up smoking the night Cur had banged his head. They went back to the bar at the Writers’ Union. Neither knew what time it was. Myrtle lit up the tip of the thermometer. Cur scattered a bag of peas on the floor. They danced happily ever after. One two. One two. One two.



Conspiracy, Third Brother, The King of European “Roadhouses”
or let’s just call this Confession, “Chairs”.

… Once Upon A Time, and then about 10 of us went to the Writers’ Union dive, to Third Brother known as The Conspiracy (Suokalbis) – Beetroot, Slumbus, Ballsfelt, Sonappy, the Narrator, Platter Jr, etc.

And soon things get kind of out of hand. Not many regulars but about 20 of us – writers, students, disabled Addleds, journalists, musicians, geriatrics, Afghan veterans, riffraffled bohemians, Romeos, Board Members, women of the night – scattered at different tables. As usual, the place is jumping with rock and roll and lushes, and Leonard Cohen’s End of Love. When I walk back into the ballroom after a surreal trip down the steep, suicidal staircase to the filthy john, I notice a husky, shit-faced guy about 40 snuggled with his girl on a sofa near the wall. He jeers something at me but I don’t understand – however, it does not sound friendly. So I just nod and continue on to our table where Big-Big Thor Daryl and Beetroot and Sonappy and Ballsfelt among others are sitting upright as best they can. I had already drunk three beers – a lot for me and too much for my pissy, prissy bladder. About 30 minutes later, I get up from my stool to go again to the toilet ( the urinal is bedecked with a black, plastic Christo trash bag and as usual out of order) – when I come back, my stool is gone. I ask Sonappy and Ballsfelt why and where it has vanished. Ballsfelt points to a guy on the sofa who is using it to put his outstretched leg on, and is staring at me with a mean smile. So, I get up, go over to him, and point to the chair (he just looks at me with a nasty grin and shakes his head). So I jerk the stool out from under his stretched-out leg. In a flash he is up and grabs the stool and lifts it into the air. I stare a second and then with sheepish, half-drunk dignity return to my table, realizing he would gladly and comfortably beat the shit out of me unless I get in a lucky judo-throw learned at the YMCA when I was about 15 and a ragdoll for the instructor and the men in the class. Fat chance! Thor then says quietly to me, "Cur, would you like a chair?" I say sure, thinking as everyone else at the table thinks, that he is going to go and get my stool. I envision him picking the guy up and smashing him like a tomato into the fireplace. Ah, we all should have such sidekicks. He stands up, slowly turns around, and walks into the bar area and returns with another chair (stool) for me, and puts it down at my former place. Meanwhile, the guy is just sitting there, but I know he now realizes that I know about 15 people, and he no one.  Still, I’m afraid he’ll stay on and follow me outside later like the Hound of the Baskervilles. My face is flushed, adrenaline steaming. Sunny, a colleague, shortly after calls me over to his table near the fireplace. I stand, beer mug in hand, next to him and his girlfriend, and some guy I don’t know. There is no place to sit. Sunny points to an empty stool at the table behind me. I say maybe someone is using it. He says no. So, I pull it over and sit down, and on the dime a drunk at that table gets up and starts to scream very loud in my face...non-stop. I give the stool back immediately. Sunny is embarrassed for having told me the stool was free; I am embarrassed and pissed off because the belligerent guy over near the sofa is laughing his head off. Of course, he got the stool back immediately but does not stop running in circles like a one-legged red-eyed beetle spewing Pentecostal spittle and glaring at me...finally some other folks calm the maniac down. I find another chair. As if on cue, a terribly drunken honky-tonk angel about 30 who was with her even more drunk boyfriend dancing and rolling on the floor simulating fucking after doing her solitary version of a pussy-wet go-go girl for about 10 minutes, comes over to me and points at my stool and grabs it. I cannot understand why at first – ah, just wanted to stand on it to get up on top of the fireplace mantel. She does, and her boyfriend shoves the stool back to me. There she is, dancing like a headless chicken, and he is on the floor before her worshipping his Lyssa. After about 10 minutes there’s a big crash of a beer mug on the floor between him and her which she has thrown, smashed, shards everywhere but this doesn’t bother the other dancers, couples and lone-twirlers. I had heard it whizzing past me since I am only a yardstick from the line of fire. The broken glass commands the floor for the next half-hour, splinters of glitter on fire. Best to return to the table to toast the ghosts of the past and present with my friends. Finally, my adversary asshole gets up to my relief and leaves the dance-lounge area, jacket in hand, and hopefully leaves the Writers Union. I feel safe to go to the WC alone. While stumbling down the steps, I hear someone footing it behind – I turn thinking maybe it’s that shit, but no, it’s the drunken toots, sick as a dog, and she vomits on the step 3 steps behind me – thank God not on me but a narrow miss. Well, later in the evening Sunny is still sitting serenely near the fireplace and his stool (formerly the one I was sitting on) suddenly comes apart. He and a friend stand up to put it together. Success! but a bit later his mug of beer gets knocked on the floor and breaks – the bartender finally makes an appearance and blames the drunken beetle who was previously yelling at me.  He starts to rant again. The bartender graciously apologizes. Finally, a few moments before leaving, I hear a strange sound from Sunny’s table – the chair (not stool) he is sitting on collapses and breaks into pieces beneath him. Sunny remains on the floor, bewildered, about to fall asleep. This time the manager comes out, looks around, shakes his head in disbelief, and sullenly returns behind the bar. At this point, Sonappy and Ballsfelt and I decide it is best to vamoose.
 your social media marketing partner


logo lktlogo momuzAsociacija LATGA logo vilnius




logo lrsThe Lithuanian Culture Institutelogo lim

Write us