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Dainius Gintalas (b.1973) is a poet, translator, libretist, and art and literary critic. He studied Lithuanian language and literature at Vilnius University and was also a student at the Vilnius Art Academy. His second poetry book, Boa, was awarded the Young Yotvingian Prize in 2008. (His first book, Viper, was published in 1997.) His third book of poetry, Needles, was published in 2016 and was selected as a Poetry Book of the Year.  His fourth collection of poems, One Summer’s Song, which was published in 2021, was awarded the Yotvingian prize. He is also the author of two poetry books for children.

In 2000 he began to organize amateur artist gatherings called the Maskoliškės Artists’ Front. He has translated works by Henri Michaux, Blaise Cendrars, René Char, Georges Bataille, Jean Genet, Lautréamont and other French authors.

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reflections on belonging

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Graphic Novels

Maskoliškės Artists' Front. Tide. 2008. 150x250. Canopy, acrylics.

Poems from the poetry collection „one summer’s song“

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

 

 

IV

do you hear outside the window the black ravens cawing it’sthe limousine of my delight an unusual joy to listen to when the silence rustles and they quietly caw to my own inner ravens their conversation is like a bridge with forests and marshes like a black band tying me to the blooming plants of the swamp to the angel’s bladdernut of the furrows corvus corax my god of the skies like a black stain in the sky that has regurgitated the rainbow corvus corax a train with wings with life vitality erotica without vulgarity a black eros a flying bordello in which love is made without touching where no one touches while making love with curses spells poems with donelaitis strazdas the sapphic strophe with poets of antiquity with their lost lines from burnt out libraries from alexandria with singed passions settled in oak roots in the loops of time maybe edgar allen poe or ted hughes stole a crow from me through the reversed sleeve of time well that’s fine let each have his crow his raven but corvus corax will still be mine he is the shaman of the sky above maskoliškiai the swallower of bones the black bearded vulture death’s lover the god of life the guardian of trees the cousin of the wolverine a miniature minotaur born in the oak’s branches finding the path out of their labyrinths through the bole connected to the sky to thunderstorms and whirlwinds with ghosts ghosts are also life we constantly disembowel others and what we don’t see disembowels us what we don’t see corvus corax is full of cosmic rain the dust of meteorites the silences of antimatter secret adventures that can’t be told for they will turn corvus corax to stone it is pockets of black sky stars expectorating phlegm a nocturnal raid into the day the gift of the tuvans to the lithuanians a black kiss at a wedding caw a dark veil at the end of a war and the following reign of silence black verse deeper than blank verse caw tunnels through which you emerge into punk rock into post punk into pulp into pixies into joy division caw it is nick cave jumping out of a well it is wells full of fresh water it is blood in my kidneys driving out black thoughts self-hatred despair impotence caw caw i crawl in a dark trench like an unending bed i crawl like a black grass-snake stretching out my yellow ears sticking out my long tongue and the ravens sit on the crowns of spruce and clap and then silence the bright silence of fish scales the fish in the river the fishies of my passions in your eyes the wind the tail of a fish flails the house’s roof under which we shelter like ermines you breathe into my ear your exhaled breath is fragrant i live on your carbon dioxide on the most fragrant gasses a blue wind a giant fish tail flails the house’s roof under which we live with our shadows dust pitchers through the window the moonlight begins to shine owls cry peace and silence dogs don’t bark and people the very worst barkers wander in confusion with boom boxes of sound bluish moths of night flutter against our house in which we dream birds we fly in our dreams above mountains above raven nests i have flown many times over my childhood’s little stadium by the huge and deep black lake where arūnas drowned and then his father drowned both of them wonderful both crows that is their surname above the stadium where there were so many nice goals scored where so many nice girls walked by where in goal i was arkanada when the ball broke my pinkie finger but we won the match and then climbed on top of a huge rock and stood there grandly victoriously with our arms in the air and my hand with a broken finger was also waving and it still aches it reminds me of that victory in the daugai neighborhood league later when I grew up that stadium closed up like a spring that lost its feeder pond it was left blind like the horrified cyclops collapsed on the ground in despair our little field like the dead cyclops’s back overgrown with nettles and sedge by the road that bent so prettily like a giant’s thumb the goalposts flew off in an unknown direction i can see them taking off over the deep black lake above the great lake that’s its name i remember arūnas’s corpse covered in a sheet his bare feet sticking out and it was from his feet that i recognized arūnas is lying here i remember his feet very well a person who never said a mean word to anybody our saint of commune street as it was then who dove too deep and got lost in the depths he was eighteen he drowned i never heard a single curse word from his mouth he was like an alien we grieved but during the wake alky vera brought her granddaughter whose eyes where tied with a black band when she stepped into the room of the wake like a pirate we couldn’t contain ourselves and began to snort and ran out and laughed like wild horses it was not just with sadness but with laughter arūnas that we saw you off our astronautic wanderer on every single february ninth i remember it’s your birthday today

Dainius Gintalas one summers song 03Maskoliškės Artists' Front. Tide. 2008. 150x250. Canopy, acrylics.

 

V

when summer’s dusk sidles up it leads me to the other side of the river into the scrub brush where the herons wait for me those connectors of heaven and earth of swamps and meadows of wild strawberries and lingonberries of the wild me and the domestic me of the sober me and the drunken me oh that saving intoxication i take a running start and jump off a mound and fly into the hedge of herons and they meet me with tender nips i sink into the mud and they jump on my back stamping and trampling and in the swamp’s mud there slowly appears a drowsy and ungraspable monster muttering melodies in which i hear the rain and the wind its name is gaddafi i hear wagons trundle by the wagon wheels rattling and the nightjar’s cry the rustle of falling feathers we will still play fool around loaf at our ease pushing on through whispers the sleepy one we’ll grow thorn-apples and catch visions that want to be caught like seductresses with short skirts and deep decolletes i adore your white rumpled blossoms my thorn-apple i whisper so that the monster would hear i esteem your black seeds which i chew as if they were poppy seeds so that they would transport me at once to the swamps on the other side of the river where the herons dance offering sweet blackberries just as the fauna of maskoliškiai offer up blackberry wine i grow intoxicated sinking in my wooziness and dream about my love as nyka-niliūnas wrote we two will live in the woods i whisper and a dark wind walks through the trees telling frightening stories the trees will play their vertical flutes we will loaf with the wolves in dim groves we will tread the mossy forest carpets we will battle the boars and hunters we will build them nooses dig hidden ditches we will lick our wounds together we will lick each other’s swollen skin and fur we will sleep in winter all piled up together in a huge cave under the darkest thickest baobab-like oak trees of the forest and time will be gentle like a wolf-cub like a father kissing his child becoming something more than a father if we live in the forest we will go to the oak grove and collect acorns we will toast them in the bonfire and then drink acorn coffee the wolves will cuddle with us grey silver and black wolves with intelligent doleful eyes i will live in your eyes and you in mine which will be a cozy den where you will be able to warm yourself on cold winter evenings a fire will always burn there radiating heat a sorcerer will live there too corvus corax i hear his voice incessantly in the sky above the trees he contracts and expands space which is dynamic mobile wrinkled furrowed by paths and roads potholed mythical mystical entwined with the stories of the brothers grimm with clearings of dark nerves we two will live in the forest where the lynx yawns where crossbills hull the cones of pines and dreams whose nuts will fall into our hair i will listen to the rustle of your blood to the springs of your heart to the beat of wolves’ hearts to the beat of their love we will learn how to smell all the scents the dry moss and damp moss the trees drying out and trees regaining health the blueberries and lingonberries we will hear how the daphne breathes how the bearberry flinches at the approach of a moose we will smell the coming rain the blossoms of irises and true lover’s knots mosses will murmur with the language of ants i would like to learn the language of ants they feel tremors in the earth that reveal the slightest approach of friends or foes the feet of friends are light the feet of enemies are leaden ants will glean seeds dust and pine needles from our hair they will collect beads of sweat from our bodies they will place pebbles in our ears and when they fall out we will hear the the universe quiver we will hear it play its strings playing something on the other side of music an ineluctable drone from the other side where time becomes a boundless web hung with a galaxy of constellations which will become for us a forest and we will merge with it becoming invisible becoming visible only for each other only for each other only for each other the blood drips from the wounded wolf full of shot he is going away he is calm but a person is apprehensive asks questions what comes next after the startling turn sometimes it seems incredibly cold and you vanish you feel nothing but a penetrating cold and a tooth-grinding helplessness you float in a numbing silent vacuum of darkness in a boundless cage in an indifferent cosmic sea where there is nothing to grab onto touch hug you are not there for the cold is so fierce that you become the cold an eternal stinging ache that stings itself like the snake that bites its own tail the uruborus of cold the eternal circle of cold how can you get out of it you cannot get out of it the winter there is black with no snow and no snowbirds and no children building snowmen no fights or white forts no snowballs nor sliced eyebrows no cracking ice no threateningly groaning ice on the lakes on daugų lake on great lake no skates or funny-looking skiers and so what if there are thousands of witnesses of a light at the end of the tunnel and stories of the loved ones they met

Dainius Gintalas one summers song 04Maskoliškės Artists' Front. Tide. 2008. 150x250. Canopy, acrylics.

 

XI

silent rowboats slide easily through wet grass canadian goldenrod and holy rope and giant blue hyssop sway and with them sway bees and bumblebees hover flies and rose chafers wasps and all the flying things that love nectar that love those bright yellow purple pink inflorescences the simple presence of a child is a celebration whisper the bushes the very existence breath voice of a child echoing off the trees rustling through the flowers through the grass bounding across fields from sleepy soccer goalposts i caress you like a tender woman i hold you to me my child my son i always wanted to be a father to have a son and daughter i am the happiest father maybe not the best one daughter son you are like that wonderful estonian saying tükrukud korjasid aasal karikrakaid it doesn’t matter what it might mean partisan birds steal berries from the garden blackbirds peck chokeberries blackbirds and black currents cherries going black their pits fall slowly to the grass a slithering worm is frightened and freezes and curls into a ball like a small spike-less hedgehog once i yearned to be angry in other words full of spleen strong stronger than others a real man but really i wanted and want to be a gentle father who hugs his daughter his son who caresses them tenderly like a mother thankful to have you my children thankful you are healthy my son who clambered out of death’s bog my daughter you said back then daddy everything will be all right and those words those most simple words were so strong they gave me so much hope and strength they were the most important words as when the most banal sentence becomes an oasis in the desert thank you daughter for those words when your brother was sick now he’s healthy and every day is a celebration every day is a king crimson lyrical passage a jazz riff full of the most amazing glissando and other currents of vitality everything will be all right thank you daughter we are fragile that’s why we write poetry the rain writes hair evening primroses lick the moon evenings write owls in whose ears mice rustle light seeps into bones the tree is cracked by the bark-beetle andriušis paints an oneiric clown with a doggy platūkis lectures bus riders about the dangers of prostitution and the importance of condoms for all kinds of syphilis gonorrhea and aids spawn these days i sip my coffee a dark bird flies by i remember the mass at panara village before the operation my son little birds smashed into the stained glass above the altar twice and we hurried out to see if there were any dead bodies no not a whiff it seems it was a message that you will get better and during the mass at bernardine church the same one where you were baptized brother paulius was saying prayers they hissed and barked with your sister we clearly heard the frogs croaking yes it was a frog chorus the church became a heavenly pond wanting to say that life will win out a frog will be a frog it hops its happiness a toad just watches it like the one living between the stones on the banks of the river it sits and watches us wash dishes we feed food scraps to a whole school of fish caressed by the waters of the širvinta river and the rays of the maskoliškiai sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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