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Aivaras Veiknys was born in 1983 in Elektrėnai. He studied real estate management at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University from 2001 to 2005. Aivaras Veiknys is one of the founders and organizers of the literary festival Literatūrinės Vilniaus slinktys. He has published four poetry books: R aktai (2007), Paukštuko liudijimai (2014), for which he received the Young Yotvingian award, Laumių vaikas (2016), earning him the Salomėja Nėris literary prize and the LWU award for children’s literature, and Mamuto medžioklė (2021). Veiknys has been a member of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union since 2014. His poems have been translated into English, German, Polish, Russian, Croatian, Flemish, and Greek languages.

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reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

Šarūnas Leonavičius, Landscape, 2011, etching, 32x52 cm. From the MO Museum collection.

Poems from the poetry book “Mammoth Hunting”

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

 

 

Mammoth Hunting

Creation, when there is no
creation. Everything is lived.
                —Vladas Šimkus

All of this from longing
                —Sigitas Parulskis

  1. Beyond the highway: grass, a meadow
    where burdock sent down roots,
    sharp spades rang out, the animals moaned,
    bright lights and their reflectors formed a chain:
    a day with little sun –
                                                the shortest day
    of all the days yet written down, erased –
    beyond the highway: meadows, clouds,
    my one and only childhood dissipates
    as slight as smoke—
                          we dug for witches’ gold
    as school bells rang and helter-skelter ran to class,
    our mouths a-grin, all proud of stealing from the gods,
    we had become the tribe’s knife edge –
    the winter saw
                          our bodies stretch like sprouts –
  2. we saw no end and no beginning:
    on Saturdays we took our saunas –
    the steam, the booze, the will to die,
    they’ll hunt us all in time:
    we wandered lost in densest woods,
    becoming the mammoths of myth – almost;
    we felt in us the weight of drifts of snow,
    the sun set slow,
                                                and we with it –
    but I can’t sleep, and dream instead,
    for I can’t feel my hands or feet,
    but only hear how mommy speaks,
    good night, you rascals, now
    good night –
                          so many Augusts will fly by
  3. before my lashes close like blossoms and
    I wipe the classroom slate to blackness –
    a land where times are quickly changing
    and maple leaves are falling down, eternally:
    oh, maple leaves, oh, crickets at song,
    those benches fade away in sun,
    the park’s voluptuous grass –
                          for decades now –
    oh, Lord, no one cleans up this place,
    for it does not exist, the place
    once loved by lovely school children
    has vanished in thin air, transformed to dust,
    including the shards of glass;
                          the cricket’s
    discordant voice will lead us home:
  4. let’s go, let’s go, we’re full of darkness and wind –
    for nothing more, my child, is given us;
    a flock of ducks flew by above the water,
    a cripple pushed a boat away from shore,
    what more?—
                          reflections only:
                                                on the slope
    the lindens turn their leaves to gold in sticky shade –
    some clever boys read young girls’ palms
    but you remain too shy to speak to them –
                          until the moon climbs up the sky –
    you secretly sigh away to the side –
    pale, thin, and empty inside –
    as pretty as a bud that has begun to wilt,
    your youth will smile at life,
  5. but all of that is meaningless:
    the dandelion stretches high in light,
    a roadside hat can’t find a head for home,
    and different girls now huddle by the tree –
    – I’m going, going –
                          there is no space for me to stay,
    at least the pond deserves a smile,
    I walk to water shut slip-shod in wire,
    a dock with rickety pilings,
    the sand below still blind,
    the heads of reeds, the shadows of clouds
    that sidle softly by, and still
    that cricket song –
                          the evening so long:
    a cripple chews a stalk of grass on the hillside,
  6. I watch as he embarks from shore once more,
    where fish can barely breathe from cold,
    but none will run the cripple out of here –
    he doesn’t listen to the laws that mark this world:
    the action recurs again, again –
                          I’ve seen it all,
    but still I yearn to see
    some providence for the sick, some thing
    that shines inside more brightly than the light,
    negating the heavily breathing I –
    are you ready for eternity?
                          no,
    I would like to live a moment more,
    to dance and sing, enjoy how here
    the plum again blooms white,
  7. to greet the courtyard tribe with shouts,
    to fight our foes,
                          to celebrate with friends, or
    not having speech, to cry and moan,
    to whistle under windows, neighbors aghast,
    to somersault, and when my strength begins to wane,
    to regain my strength as if from air,
    to travel the first serious journey again –
    to cross our swords beyond electrical lines:
    all for one!
                          and one for all! –
    our life is wind yet full of light: so much!
    I thought the world had less;
    we understand: we’ll fly on home
    where mothers silently smile at how
  8. we fought for crown and scepter,
    but never thought to thank
    the gods –
                           as swollen greasy clouds
    get stuck above apartment blocks:
    no soul abroad – the city dead,
    and rain turns into storm
    while wind patrols the crooked streets,
    and lightning strikes, the lamps go out –
    a fog emerges to slur reality:
    December’s March,
                          or April’s October—
    it’s hard to tell from just one look,
    and that which ties us, friend,
    is just a spoon with medicine
  9. which they force on you before you die,
    but still we think we are immortal:
    and I will make the samurai’s stroke,
    as soon as you can tell me strictly
    how to know your foe by the shadow
    he casts, the one who made our blood run cold,
    so let the rogue learn how to be
    a fern in meadows sweet –
                          while evenings we watch TV –
    a hundred Cassandras prophesy the flood,
    but none announce the news we know:
    we won, however,
                          the king was killed
    and lies on bloody stretcher prone,
  10. the crown belongs to us no more;
    as centuries change, so we become exchanged
    between the soulless scarecrows hammered
    among the ferns;
                          our incoherent shouts
    no longer open secret sesame doors –
    we wander lost in densest woods,
    I can no longer count, my Lord,
    how often the August sun went out, and with it,
    the cricket silenced, the blossom all but wilted,
    though my alarm still buzzes every morning
    and makes the heart beat harder still:
    I’m bitten by blood-suckers, stuck with flies
    I rise,
                          but I never do wake up –
  11. iambic rhythms come on call, but not
    creation of the world from dust despite
    the effort, tension, neurons burning
    with friction;
                          so I admit to you
    how tired I am, how hard it is to understand
    those who left us long ago,
    how I myself am but reflection,
    the whistle of the wind – the voice of my friend
    that calls to me again to chase the doves,
    to steal the apples, divinely sweet,
    our neighbor grew, to drag a duck that died…
                          – alive! alive! I breathe life in…
                                                – for sure?…
    the wind grows strong and blows right through
  12. until one can’t resist: so cross your heart –
    it all remains – the heartbreak:
    a half-abandoned shore with seaweed smell,
    the schoolyard where I fall at night
    conspiring with the maple leaves,
    where drizzle bubbles like champagne,
    the senior prom, the final dance:
    Celine Dion –
                          the melody is faint as it
    runs free from our cassette tape’s cell
    and into a new age – city lights stretch like straws
    up to a plane that flies away,
    and if you look from that Olympus you can see
    a mammoth mired in snow,
    beyond the highway, drifts
                                                            in meadows
                                                                       deep.

 

 

Forest in Late Autumn

The potato stalks
have almost stopped
burning,
and beyond them –

all those pines,
willows
and birches:

god’s bones
now done
with their work,

their roots
sunk deep
into stony
soil,

their trunks
overgrown
with moss
and lichen,

resigned
to their fate
long ago…

Only at night,

on late autumn
nights –

when spiders
cover the woods
once more
with silvery webs –

from the gaps
among willows
and aspens

the lone
owl
of the wind
hoots

as if calling out
to something in the dark

as if in answer
to something there.

 

 

 

 

 

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