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Simonas Bernotas (b. 1993 in Kaunas) is a poet, translator, and publisher. He lives in Vilnius. He holds an MA in Intermediate Literature Studies from Vilnius University. Bernotas's poetry collection Reivas (Rave, published in 2019) earned the Best Debut prize from Lithuanian Ministry of Culture. Bernotas has translated works by such authors as Roberto Bolaño, Nicanor Parra, Federico García Lorca, Octavio Paz, Jorge Luis Borges, and Julio Cortázar. In 2023, Bernotas published his second poetry collection Pasakų parkas (Park of Folktales).

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reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

Jonas Jurcikas, The Fence II, 2016, canvas, acrylic, 180 x 269 cm. From the MO Museum collection.

Poems from the poetry book „Fairy Tale Park“

Translated by Markas Aurelijus Piesinas

 

 

 

Warsaw

 

A green pond

In the park that

Resembles a graveyard

A fish might appear

And it does

We need light

Sun is out

We’re looking

For the most direct route

Massive posters and flags

Tell us to go

Crosses crosses crosses crosses

In the square a couple of tin soldiers

Melting near the eternal flame

In another square a protest

Three citizens speaking their truths

50 meters away from a man

With a poster saying

Lies are told 50 meters away

Bittersweet guilt

In the Jewish history museum

Which we didn’t visit

Later a delicious sip of Czech beer

As one poet said

Time is eternally running out

As one translator replied

Words find us themselves

 

 

 

Thirst

 

We’re all here like brothers and sisters

 

Beatrice doesn’t speak Italian

She says in Spanish

No preguntarme nada. He visto que las cosas

cuando buscan su curso encuentran su vacío.[1]

How’s your heart?

Still beating?

Great

 

A sad young philosopher sipping mezcal

Losing truth to oblivion and chasing love in his mind

 

The evening slips away

Like an unruly puppy

 

The snarling night

Will sink gently

Its teeth of slumber

 

Come morning the gale

And the clumsy sun rise

 

A couple is playing dice

Rolling eternity

A little short

Of enough

 

Beatrice can’t find us outside

Outside we’re looking for Beatrice

 

A lonely lover sings

Or maybe

We are the song

The lyrics don’t make sense

We keep forgetting the words

Let’s stay for another one

Just one more

 

 

 

Godzilla in Vilnius

 

no one instructed me how

to deal with situations like these

i searched the internet’s salt flats

for a drop of pure water

 

i tried calling

phone’s busy or disconnected

of course you had better things to do

you were never the sentimental type

and you won’t change now

 

i turned my late father’s radio on

(he’s lucky he didn’t get to experience this)

i can’t hear a voice it’s just

sssssssssssssssssssssssstatic

iodine tablets in the drawer

necessary items photographs arranged

in labyrinths on the floor

 

i run into the crowd by the bus stop

where special buses are waiting

their route is

Žemieji Paneriai–Death

 

traffic has stopped

the bus isn’t moving

we stare at the fog

waiting

 

 

 

Audition for a temporary opening of the role of third jester in the circus division of the domestic cultural ties and leisure politics department under the ministry of essential affairs in the kingdom of mirrors

 

Would you laugh at a naked king?

Name three of your most important flaws

Do you easily take credit for the achievements of others?

What is two times two? Four? Isn’t that too much?

Are you interested in acrobatics?

Do you juggle swords?

And can you do something else while you’re at it?

In other words, do you multitask?

Do you speak the language of birds?

Can you ride a unicycle?

Bicycle? Quadracycle? Hectocycle?

How many wenches would it take to satisfy the king?

Do you like playing with fire?

?sdrawkcab daer uoy oD

Why were you dismissed from your previous job?

Where do you see yourself in a hundred years?

Are you a solo or team player?

Heads or tails?

What are your salary expectations?

Do you partake in drugs?

What are your career goals?

How far can you spit?

Are you seeing anybody right now?

Is that too personal of a question?

Would you rather choose a cat in a bag or a bird in the hand?

Explain your choice

What other tricks do you know?

Do you believe in miracles?

What are we doing here?

You think something’s funny?

 

 

 

His Majesty the Lyrical Subject

Paraphrase of the poem “Today – On Lenin’s Birthday” by Justinas Marcinkevičius[2]

 

Today

 

On the Lyrical Subject’s birthday

 

I will constantly think of him

As I’m scrolling on Facebook

 

I will think of him

 

As I’m picking up a cigarette

I will think of him

 

As I’m jacking off in the shower

I will think of him

When I see:

 

How they’re building the Akropolis

I will think of him

How the drone flies

 

High above the city

 

I will think of him

How an old lady moves to Krasnuha

 

In the trolleybus

 

Holding her aloe vera plant

Whose leaves

Resemble a swastika

 

I will think of him

 

How corpses arrive and leave

 

Through the doors of a funeral home

 

I will think of him

 

And when I hear

 

How the people cuss

Blyat’

 

And how they say

Kurwa nahui

 

I will think of him

And when I’m watching

The Joe Rogan Experience

 

I will think of him

In the evening, looking at the empty screen of my laptop

 

I will think of him

And when I’m not thinking of tomorrow

 

I will think of him

 

 

 

451° Fahrenheit

 

take up and read

the catechism of sparks

 

sizzling letters

blazing words

flaring sentences

thick fumes of wisdom

burning your eyes

nose

throat

now’s a good time to use safety measures

like gas masks

if we had enough

 

the ignited covers turn blue

publications expand in the bliss of the fire

pages convulse like snakes

just hissing hissing hissing hissing

turning the tricky postmodernity of Joyce into charcoal

incinerating special operation and peace

fulfilling Kafka’s whim

 

FIRE extends the brave new world

FIRE prolongs 1984

FIRE fuels the clockwork orange

FIRE

pillars of smoke

mounds of ashes

are good fertilizers

they’ll fix the wasteland

 

P. S.

they lied to us when they said that manuscripts don’t burn

oh yes they do

leaping in the inquisition’s flames

shedding their bodies

letter by letter

life after life

into the margins of ash

 

 

 

1. Don’t ask me any questions. I’ve seen how things that seek their way find their void instead.” (Federico García Lorca)

2. This infamous poem by Lithuanian poet Justinas Marcinkevičius celebrating Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin’s birthday was published in the April 1987 issue of the Soviet Lithuanian newspaper Tiesa. It is a meditation on the subject’s daily routine expressing an unwavering tribute to the USSR’s first head of government (“Today / On Lenin’s birthday / I will think of him all day / As I’m reading the morning paper / I will think of him / As I’m picking up a slice of bread / I will think of him / […]”). J. Marcinkevičius’s ideological ties to the Soviet regime have recently made his status as an esteemed Lithuanian poet a matter of great debate in the Lithuanian public space (translator’s note).

 

 

 

 

 

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