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Erika Drungytė was born in 1971 in Kaunas. She moved to Klaipėda in 1989 to study Lithuanian philology and theater. She moved back to Kaunas in 1995 and received a doctorate in the humanities from Vytautas Magnus University in 2002. Since 2016, she has been the editor-in-chief of the monthly cultural publication Nemunas. Erika Drungytė is the author of five poetry books; her most recent collection of verse titled Mountain and City was published in 2021. Drungytė translates poetry and prose from Latvian, Polish, Russian, and English. She currently lives in the Kaunas District, where she devotes much of her time to gardening.

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reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

Saulius Rudzikas, Evening Stories, 2012; 40x50, oil, canvas.

Poems from the poetry collection „Mountain and City“

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

 

 

Mood (I)

Happy young men with shaved heads
Waving orange marigold garlands
Dance – almost in flight – and sing
Flowers fragranced by fall’s hare krishna

Wherever you go, the flowers seem to follow
From parks and plazas, alleys and squares
Annoying and celebratory, sharp and sweet
Happy in a way not ours, tenderly sad as well

Their decorative bulbs are woven into graveyards
Where they float, drifting in the calm between trees
To stand there as sentinels until the first frosts
When chrysanthemums change the guard

Homes fill with vases sputtering marigold orange
As days grow shorter, there is nothing to be done –
The young men sing, titmice twitter over graves
And the shells of urns fill up with your friends

 

 

Mood (II)

The joy of morning – to get up again
And repeat the ritual: a cup of coffee
Outdoors, inhale the air with the titmouse
And say – look how the bitter, cold water
Already drips from the storm gutter
And chestnuts thump to the ground
Just for show – useless bits of matter
Clutched by both children and adults

 

 

We Live Within Each Other

for Valdas Gilius

Once
In Venice
Drinking my morning coffee I listened
To how the local Veneti
Gather make love shout move about
Their lives embracing
The veins of canals
Apartment next to apartment
Boat next to boat
Window to window
Door to door
Impossible
To hide separate lock oneself away
To cut oneself off from the place
To cut the other from oneself
Or hearing from the ear
The labyrinth from the minotaur
The stench of Lethe from San Michele
Wine from the evening
The mask from the carnival
The lion from the coat of arms
Memory from a dream
Like the golden
Shadows of saints
Once
Becoming always

 

 

The Goddess of Loneliness: Edith Piaf

We just say that we read the Bible and all those excellent required books
We just laugh at how we need to look good because beauty will win against something
We just console ourselves that God has his confessional and sits there all the time

O just try to scrape from the pavement all the skin of the children who fell
O just try to poke out the desiring eyes of every little girl
O just try to rip the cocaine pistol out of the hands of the missionaries of gold

O just try to sleep with all the prostitutes of Saint-Dénis out of love
O just try to take away the hearing of the fleas dancing in the matrix of your life
O just try to tell your closest friends – there is only me

O just try to read the story of one soul to a sparrow in the yard
O just try to disavow Morpheus every time evening comes around
O just try to not try anything as your car slides off the road

 

***

tic toc from morning tic toc to evening
tic toc the cuckoo tic toc was lost
tic toc not a sound tic toc only chamomile
tic toc he doesn’t love me tic toc he never did

tic toc mousey mousey tic toc who has the ring
tic toc the mousetrap tic toc it snapped
tic toc the pendulum tic toc of the clock
tic toc not a sound tic toc flies all around

tic toc on the key tic toc the spreading rust
tic toc in the stairwell tic toc she hung herself
tic toc the ladybird[1] tic toc with seven dots
tic toc tic only God’s tic toc tic toc tic

 

***

Each of us will remain with our grievances
With our truths and our daggers of ambition
With the scars of childhood all scabbed up
With the fear that they’ll be scratched open again
As we scratch and salve them anew in fresh solitude

Each of us will remain with our dreams there
Where the other is how we wanted them to be – perfect
When we wake we’ll press our tenderness in a fist
And fiercely defend it – it’s your fault, it’s your fault
And we won’t be able to climb down from our perch

Each of us will remain with a cracked trough
Stingy with our silage, unwilling to share the rot
We’ll caress purulent splinters in our palms
And there won’t be any hugs as we loudly shout
That the other cannot understand or console

Each of us will remain with our arrhythmia
When the heart pounds in a void of events
So we go on the attack and everything ends
Differently from how we expect, but we won
One more crown in the cold war

Each for each, but each still looking for
Confirmation of our rightness from the passers-by
Hoping they will praise the wonder of
The armor and weapons we forge from words
As we unsheathe them each against each

 

 

If You Can

Weed the thistle, tear it from your eyes
Start blinking a bit, as yet unused to the desert
Moisten your eyeballs though with what humidity?
Maybe it will work – lucky to cry tears of joy
Blessed are those who can sob – shuddering
Because their teeth have been dulled
While gnawing the snares of feelings
Grinding the violin strings of the mind, the half-tones of
Sharps and flats unknown – just the dull full tones of the scale
Blessed are those who weep or wheeze with words
To clean all the stones from their lungs, spleen and childhood
To pump things and contents out of blood
Political declarations, ideological phantasmagorias
Finally releasing the cold, the canyons of ice
Where superhomosapiens played out secret
And frightening rituals, staring into your eyes
From computers, telephones, billboards and films
From underwear drawers and gyms
Marches and protests for the right to be stupid
Climbing up on pedestals erected for the gods
Blessed are those who cry and embrace with tears
The bread with sugar, puddles, road muck and splinters
Skinned knees and mother’s whip on your thigh
Her gentle sigh that everything will be alright
Unwashed apples, shiny secret time-capsules
Under the earth with colored candy wrappers
Filth under the nails, pinworms in the toilet
Your first and eternal dog, the unburied head
Of a pigeon eaten with worms under the plum tree
Light and free, all that can be washed with tears
The first love at school, the eternal oath of bodies entwined
The cold bed, shards of a marriage, the scent
Of the firstborn’s shirts in the closet which he calls
A wet sentimental fog while giving a manly laugh
Water warmed with naivety a second or a third time
Clairvoyants, cards, stars, chiromancy
Šliogeris, Buddha, Osho, Prabhupada, and Father Stanislaus
The rainbow of freedom, the chaos of love without walls
The one and only aging map of the body
Finally understanding where each and every road leads
Thistles and invasive cactuses invoke the sands
Don’t rub your eyes overgrown with them, overblown with sand
They’re just sand grains at first glance – hard and stable matter
If you cry you wash out the dregs, dust and film
If you cry a long time, you can scratch with a grain of quartz
The glassy mirror that gently reflects the mystical side
Which the Marxists couldn’t grasp – you blink until your eyes
Become sensitive again to the light of the sun, the gust of wind

 

 

Sometime

It seems to me that I have all the possible complexes inside:
Oedipus and Cain, Elektra and Jonah, Ophelia and Cassandra.
Everything that you would accuse me of is absolutely true.
Yes, the name Medusa would fit, and it would be fitting to live
Farther away from people, to not remind them of the time
They spent with me, how we drank wine and spoke frankly:
No one likes to meet their former instantiations
That have cried on the psychologist’s couch, hidden behind
Responsibilities and artificial blue lenses that mean success.
Everything changes, changes, changes, except for that inner child
Always sleeping with you, but in the morning the fears repeat,
My arms are empty, there are only shields, shields, shields –
However close you might get, that millimeter of cold steel
Remains like armor on the skin. And if someone remembers the myth
Of how to kill Medusa with a mirror, I am ready to look at myself
And turn to stone. However, that little girl from my dreams
Is still magically protected from treachery, ruses and lies
And will reach the hyperborean happiness of a thousand years. Sometime

 

 

For Myself

The drawers are full of flies
The shelves are full of flies
Books are full of bookmarks and flowers

Hair is full of cobwebs
Hair is full of hornets
The garden is full of hoes

The table is full of crumbs
The bed is full of crumbs
The nightstand is full of books

The notebook is full of nonsense
The notebook is full of geometric designs
The purse is full of pens

The cupboards are full of coffee
The cups are full of coffee
The desk is full of sleep

Thoughts are full of children
The mouth is full of silence
Bottles are full of valerian

The city is full of me
The city is full of me
I am full of my garden

 

1. “The Calf of God” in Lithuanian

 

 

 

 

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