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Antanas Šimkus (1977) was born in Vilnius, where he finished secondary school and graduated with a degree in Lithuanian studies. Šimkus has published three poetry collections (Skradžiai [1999], Sezonas baigtas [2010], Vakaras dega [2022]), and the children’s poetry book Vaizdai iš gyvenimo bobulytės ir kt. (2012). For his second poetry book, Šimkus received the Young Yotvingian Prize (2010) and the Vilnius City Mayor’s Prize (2012). His poetry has been translated into English, Latvian, Russian, Chinese, and Ukrainian. Šimkus has has also held the position of department editor at the weekly Literatūra ir menas, culture editor at Bernardinai.lt, and chief editor at the journal Metai. Since 2021, Šimkus has also worked as a teacher at a gymnasium in Vilnius.

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reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

Antanas Obcarskas, Grey Skies, 1993, canvas, oil, 60 x 75 cm. From the MO Museum collection.

Poems from the poetry book „Evening on Fire“

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

 

 

Spring Light

 

This day will be long –
Spring, the devil’s clever helper
Always brings strong spirits,
Good recordings and photos
Of blooming bird-cherry trees.

 

Even the kitchen of it’s abysses
Has a pleasant scent,
A cup of strong, black coffee
Before morning dawns.

The day will be long and arduous,
And the evening – in your arms,
Listening to the world’s darkness,

Whispering –

It’s not quite hell,
Not yet –

The devil has his connections
To the help-line of solace,

He knows
Of what he speaks –

I love you
On this, the twenty-second day of April.

 

 

In the Internal City

 

My home is in the internal city,
on that almost vanished by-road.
I remember its sun in the fall,
when children’s hours pitter-pattered through rooms.

Spring was pretty there, especially in the yard
where poplar giants raised their hands in the air,
when all those we buried fluttered back as birds.
The springs were beautiful…

I can barely remember winter in my internal city.
A short summer of snow storms, everything melting,
leaving only tears.
The hair of my girlfriends always smelled of rain.

So here: I show you my home,
and you think I’m joking.
This is a graveyard, you say.
This is a grave yard.
I hear my heart flutter, a bird, the hours.
You are fragrant with rain
standing on the vanished by-road.
This is my home.
This is my home.
How beautiful, the spring…

 

 

Thaw

 

The stallions of light gallop to nowhere: what frightened them?
The stallions of darkness gallop to nowhere: what frightened them?
Muzzles, steam and thunder above the frightened city.
Muzzles, steam and thunder above the frightened city.

The day has its servants, but who is their master?
The night has its servants, but who is their master?
The rain won’t stop, chains rust on wrists.
The rain won’t stop, chains rust on wrists.

What do the tongues of snow whisper in that ditch of sky?
What do the tongues of snow whisper in that ditch of sky?
A shadow flew home, but no dragon has ever been seen.
What flew back. What flew back. Winter. Thaw. The street.

 

 

On a Date

 

My son
Takes a girl by the hand,

Utters gentle words.

Yes, she is pretty,
His mother in her smile,
Her father in him.

That’s how everyone goes
Down the springtime road,
That’s how we go
Today, twenty years before,
And after…

A gentle wind
Tussles the blossoms
Which someone so assiduously
Swept to the side of the road.

 

 

On the Side of Summer Street[1]

 

Now, it seems, I have learned that I repeat myself –
A madhouse feeling, accompanied by the peal of church bells, almost holy,
And all the legions come Sundays pray, then comes the hunt in the night.

The ball thuds on the basketball court, evenings,
Shadows gather to shoot away their solitude.
Soon, I will go down as well,
So many years behind bars,
So many words as gifts,
The madhouse blooms white, the madhouse blooms red,
And the black madhouse smiles,

The gates open slowly.
On what side of summer are you on?

 

 

By the Bernardine Cemetery

 

Light slips through the valley
By the Bernardine Cemetery.
A sunny autumn. Yes, and pretty.
It casts a technicolored spell.

Unidentified, but an animal:
A shadow slinks through Užupis
Like the unstoppable night’s fall.
You ran into it as if by chance

Longing for the bonfire’s flames,
For life in the silence of eyes
Which can never be the same,
Unrepeatable, like you and I.

 

 

On the Road to Bethlehem

 

You said goodbye with a wave of your hand,
And two streets already stretch away.
This city is so quick to listen
To those who go their separate ways,
To those who want to go.

Well, it’s autumn. Leaves still sail the river of air.
Twisting, turning. Days grow shorter. Yes, I loved,
You say to yourself. Yes, she says as well.
River. Street. Day.
There, where light fell for thousands of years.
There, where it fell… now nothing. Here and gone.

Memory still erases and tears,
Erases and tears.
You would want it all to end more quickly,
The calendar to break off around Christmas time,
So in your inner manger, it would be all warm and…
Cities are just cities. This one too. On the road to Bethlehem.

 

 

1. It is well known in Vilnius that the primary psychiatric hospital was located on Summer Street (Vasaros gatvė)

 

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