Monday, March 19, 2007


It is my first night in Lithuania, in Vilnius, Old Vilna -. My friend and translator Liudvikus Jakimavicius
has invited me to the Writers' Union, to take part in a publishing party for his new book. He wants to have " a happening".
The room is full, and no one knows who I am. Liudvikus reads the introductory poem, in Lithuanian, and I rise from my seat in the audience and read the poem, in English:
meandering river
sifting through nets
searching for fish
Liudvikus, Mindaugas the sculptor, and a musician are doing something shamanic with drums and wood and sound - I think of the statue in the central square, just blocks away, a giant warrior with his horse, the national hero, leading the pagan Lithuanians, the last western European country to resist Christianity, leading the people against the Northern Crusade, called by the Pope .
(and not far away, in another square, a statue of Frank Zappa.)
I rise again, read another Liudvikus poem:

A Conversation
in the memory of old hippies

now above our heads
green chestnut sky
slow summer thoughts
pinkish fluff
fallen burned out
on the blue ground
I don't ask anymore
if you believe in me
there was no God among us

one by one
you haven't said a thing to me

taking my time
I'll drink to you
cheap red wine
do you know that you know what you know
about what's really far out

birds gather there to take a breather
black boats float
flapping their high-set sails
do you know that you know what you know

babe for now
on this shore we both
speak without hearing
and listen how Vilnele carries through the rapids
pinkish chestnut fluff..

the evening ends with the poem's return:
meandering river
at a quiet bend
finds white bellies of fish.

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