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Vytautas Kaziela was born on December 13, 1955. He is a poet, essayist, and publisher who has worked for the national and regional press. Kaziela is currently an editor at the publishing house Kamonada. He has been a member of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union since 1994. He has published 13 poetry books for adults, three children’s poetry books, and three books of essays. Since 2012, Kaziela has been editing and publishing the literary anthology Atokios stotys, which publishes work by Lithuanian émigré writers and writers living in rural Lithuania. Vytautas Kaziela has received the Kazys Umbrasas, Antanas Miškinis, and Antanas Baranauskas literary prizes. In 2019, his poetry book Alyvmedžiai (Olive Trees) was named the poetry book of the year. Kaziela’s work has been translated into English and Hungarian.

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reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

Kazimiera Zimblytė, From the series "In memoriam..." 1980-1988. Oil on canvas, mixed media, 150 x 200 cm. From the MO Museum collection.

Poems from the poetry book “Do not open your eyes, Lord”

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

 

 

 

***

 

I remember

the village

in the mountain gorge

where they sold

fluffy sheep fur

together with

the mauled

paws of wolves

 

this is something

I just can’t explain

 

 

 

***

 

he’s from an aquarium

or at least

he’s lived in one long

 

turning into a plant

a stone a fish

every day he assimilates

what is slick

and dark and cold

 

this is how the desiccated sea

leaves us on the shore

 

 

 

***

 

it’s so hard

to find the right words

saying goodbye

 

as if those fifty years had never been

and that one meaningless summer

that was just a gap

between history and math

 

I try to wipe my fingers

clean of chalk

but they slip and slide across

the phone’s tactile screen

 

and the stones made smooth

by the river’s swift stream

 

 

 

***

 

I remember you

in the dawn

at the spot from which

I jump into the abyss

 

or when I wander through

the Carpathians

after the war

 

after the war you say

everything vanished

moved to the valley

or to the beyond

 

a stone was rolled over

the passage

people haven’t lived here

for long

 

where only specters appear

 

 

 

***

 

stay out of it

everyone said

war is not for you

the sword

and the shield

are not yours to hold

 

wait until

the young go off

to war

then you’ll drink their wine

and love their women

 

most will not

come back

or they’ll come back

lame

 

lamer even

than you

 

cripple

where do you think

you’re going

 

 

 

***

 

remember the dead

feel their voices in your mouth

their blood on your hands

the crumbling of time

through your fingers

 

that’s how year by year

and day by day it goes

with shadows on the walls

and ghosts in the courtyards

 

something connects us

in the barely visible

light of this darkness

these roads and these rivers

all lead us

to the same place

 

I need you

 

just a whispering

full of silence

out of longing

out of the thickening fog

that looms above the sea

 

 

 

***

 

in this city

no buses run

and people don’t hurry

to work

or to home

here no one needs

to go to the store

 

there’s just an elderly man

with a bike

making no attempt to hide

from bullets and shells

just a woman pushing a stroller

who don’t hear the howl

of sirens

 

heralding the threat

from the sky

while a thinker sits

at the window

of a burned-out house

and what is there to think about

with the war all around

 

but there is no war

says the boy

running down the street

the war ended

when the planes came

and we didn’t make it

to the shelter

 

 

 

***

 

when you grew up

and left home you had

the grey sky for a roof

and walls made of wind

 

I’ve heard this

somewhere

as if someone said it

before you

 

your mother keened in a hollow

your father a degenerate ghost

 

you found a neglected church

in the middle of the woods

an old altar

with moss and mold overgrown

 

and you prayed

to the image of God in the water

and then you thought

how you were never

needed by anyone ever

 

and how no one needs

these tired prayers

that have

neither fire nor embers

 

but only the grayness of ashes

for life

 

 

 

***

 

there’s nothing there

except skulls

quietly settled

into eternal sleep

 

neither light

nor darkness

only the earth

hard and dry

 

bullets rattle in your mouth

with the taste of blood

with the scent of gunpowder

there was so much of everything

 

now there’s just

these few rays of light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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