7 Poems by Marius Burokas translated from Lithuanian by Rimas Uzgiris


Cave-dwellers

 

All those people, still seated

in their cars, in the afternoon

before it ends, work already done.

One hour, two, three.

They wipe their sweaty hands

on pants, or on the seat.

They smoke, and gaze into nowhere.

A feeling of being digested, slowly,

inside intestines, inside other intestines,

inside a Japanese, a Russian, box,

inside the box of God:

packed together in layers, decorated

on the outside with satellites.

And further, further, all is unclear to the eye.

One hour, two.

In no hurry, they ignite their engines

and turn out of forgotten streets.

 

 

 

Translation of “Urviniai” by Marius Burokas,

Būsenos. Lietuvos rašytojų sajungos leidykla, 2005.

 

 

 

______________________________________________________

 

After Work Blues

 

alone after work

a beer and a thriller

on a motley planet

where I kneel down

and create this picture

for myself:

 

—through the glass, July weather

cools in twilight, children’s shouts

hang in the air

and a neighbor leads out

her shambling rottweiler

 

and you

my legend, my myth,

close your eyes

and say:

 

—open me sleeping

with loving hands

doorman

box-mover

do not distinguish, there in the dark,

you from me

 

only leave in the morning

through blinds drenched in sun,

loving and strong

 

— — — — — — —

 

but—

 

you fumble your way

to bed

and the planet grows pale

 

 

 

Translation of “Bliuzas ‘Po Darbo'” by Marius Burokas,

Būsenos. Lietuvos rašytojų sajungos leidykla, 2005.

 

 

______________________________________________________

 

Conditions

 

Again, I come face to face with violence.

You find yourself dialing the number—

pressed into black vulcanite, breathed into.

Yes, I felt remorse, because I killed.

Yes, I felt remorse, because I ate and wrote.

I am too ashamed to help anyone.

All it takes is a whistle to close me up.

To cover me over.

You will get no satisfaction from this.

 

So I unravel myself from my body,

plastering up a sticky cocoon.

I grow strong for autumn, for blackness.

I clutch at a tree trunk.

But this is just a game.

A game. Because nothing hurts.

 

Nor any pathos for you—

just laughter, and the stained glass

of wings on a sunny morning.

 

 

 

Translation of “Būsenos” by Marius Burokas,

Būsenos. Lietuvos rašytojų sajungos leidykla, 2005.

 

 

 

______________________________________________________

 

 

Interior IV

 

to Sarah

 

Awakened in the hush of heaving

cobwebs. Sunlight, plastered

with wet leaves, caresses concrete.

“Your place is like a trapper’s hut,”

she says, “all wooden floors and shadow.”

Coffee keeps me quiet. On her side—

sand cuts salt and clouds. On mine—

cats melt into trees. Later, the airplane

divides us.

 

 

 

Translation of “Interjeras IV” by Marius Burokas,

Būsenos. Lietuvos rašytojų sajungos leidykla, 2005.

 

 

 

______________________________________________________

 

 

***

 

Your transparent fingers—

tiny minnows,

wiggling nervously.

 

I press them into mine—

clumsy,

thick,

and strong

like the bars of a cage.

Fret and shake.

You won’t get out.

 

I promise

to feed you,

protect you

and care.

 

 

 

Translation of “Tavo pirštai persišviečia” by Marius Burokas,

Būsenos. Lietuvos rašytojų sajungos leidykla, 2005.

 

 

______________________________________________________

 

Laundromat

 

So many girls with highlighted hair

folding their underwear

to the drone of laundry machines

neon

and the TV news

 

Stealthily, I watch

them perform the ritual

baskets full of underwear

scented flesh

 

So serious

so pretty

and so focused these girls

who don’t know me at all

bending over their brimming baskets

 

A foreign language

foreign bodies

and foreign me

quickly stuffing

his rags

into the washing machine’s throat

 

His chest tightening

alone

and completely naked

the Lithuanian poet

 

 

 

Translation of “Skalbykla” by Marius Burokas,

Būsenos. Lietuvos rašytojų sajungos leidykla, 2005.

 

 

______________________________________________________

 

 

 

***

 

for I.D.

 

slick apple dreams

clay pitcher face

split by thirst

by desire

to see you

 

hands sow the table

cuneiform script

hands handle forms

covered over

washed out

 

I know—my gaze

betrays me—

betrays you—

drifting away

 

except in summer when I fly

to the window

and squeeze through the old screen

to you

calm closed eyes

and bite your shoulder

 

 

 

Translation of “glitūs miego obuoliai” by Marius Burokas,

Būsenos. Lietuvos rašytojų sajungos leidykla, 2005.

______________________________________________________

Marius Burokas (b. 1977), poet and translator, has studied Lithuanian language and literature at Vilnius University. He has worked as a Lithuanian language teacher, has served as project editor for a public relations agency, has worked in advertising agency and has coordinated literary programs at the Eastern Lithuanian Cultural Centre. Now he is a freelance writer, translator and also writes for cultural internet magazine Bernardinai.lt.

Marius made his debut with the poetry collection Ideograms (Ideogramos) in 1999. His second book of poetry, States of Being (Būsenos), appeared in 2005. His third book – I‘ve Learned Not To Be (Išmokau nebūti) was published this February. His third book was awarded “The Young Yotvingian prize” as a best young poet’s book, published in two years.

His poetry has been translated into Polish, Russian, Latvian, Finnish, Slovenian, English, German and Ukrainian. Some of his poetry is also published in “New European Poets” anthology (“Greywolf Press”, 2008).

Marius Burokas translated poetry of American, Canadian and Australian poets Charles Simic, Walter S. Marwin, Gwendolyn MacEwen, Robinson Jeffers, Robert Bly, James Dickey, William Carlos Williams, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Hilda Doolittle (H.D.), Alan Dugan, David Malouf and others. He is also a compiler and one of the translators of Allen Ginsberg poetry selection “Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems” (2011). He has translated prose of James G. Ballard, Woody Allen, Sherman Alexie, Hunter S. Thompson and others.

In 2001 he participated in International Writing Program in Iowa. Marius is a Lithuanian Writers’ Union member since 2007. He lives in Vilnius. E-mail: burius102@yahoo.com

+++

Rimas Uzgiris’ poetry has been published in Bridges, 322 Review, Lituanus, Prime Number Magazine, The Poetry Porch, and is forthcoming in Quiddity. His translations have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, and are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, Lituanus and Two Lines Online. He received an MFA in creative writing from Rutgers-Newark University, where he studied poetry with Rigoberto Gonzalez and Rachel Hadas. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His philosophical monograph, Desire, Meaning, and Virtue: The Socratic Account of Poetry, was published in 2009.