From the Lithuanian

The Eastern European poets are often astonishing. Here’s one by a poet who recently died that I found odd and intriguing and kind of wonderful.


you’re home. eating lentils. talking to your
loved one. you’re abroad. eating lentils. talking to
your loved one. you’re not yourself. you’ve been stolen.
you’re talking to your lentils. you’re not a knife, not cotton.
talking to your loved one. you forgot how to talk
and forgot how to hang in the closet. you forgot
the letter p in the receit. you’re talking to cotton.
it doesn’t answer. its life was not for you.
a lot. too much. although there is never too much.
you’re anywhere. eating lentils. talking to.
she doesn’t answer. she went everywhere you went.
she flew. when you fly—you can’t cry. you’re
talking to her. she doesn’t answer. but there were
two rooms. you didn’t know where. you went
anywhere. no one was drawing your loved one there.
just a manuscript in the bottom drawer of the desk.
and its feathers are petrified. along with two dozen
of its vertebrae. you told your loved one about this.
you ate lentils and it didn’t even rain. one hundred fifty
million years—just the blink of an eye. in your
manuscript. in the solnhofen schist.

Kęstutis Navakas
Translated from the Lithuanian by Rimas Uzgiris (from Poetry Daily)

I wonder what “you forgot /the letter p in the receit” was in Lithuanian?

A little late

Sorry this is late this week–busy with local and national activism, poetry had to wait. But this came in my email from the Writers’ Almanac this morning, and thought I’d share it. I found that George Bilgere also hosts a radio show.


WEDNESDAY SEPT. 19, 1949–Stan Musial put the redbirds closer to a pennant race. Musial made a slow start but now has a batting average above .330.

My father once sold a Chevy
to Stan Musial, the story goes,
back in the fifties,
when the most coveted object
in the universe of third grade
was a Stan-the-Man baseball card.

No St. Louis honkytonk
or riverfront jazz club
could be more musical
than those three syllables
rising from the tongue of Jack Buck
in the dark mouths
of garages on our street,

where men like my father
stood in their shirt-sleeved exile,
cigarette in one hand, scotch
in the other, radio rising
and ebbing with the Cards.

If Jack Buck were to call
my father’s drinking that summer,
he would have said
he was swinging for the bleachers.
He was on a torrid pace.
In any case, the dealership was failing,
the marriage a heap of ash.

And knowing my father, I doubt
if the story is true,
although I love to imagine
that big, hayseed smile
flashing in the showroom, the salesmen
and mechanics looking on
from their nosebleed seats at the edge
of history, as my dark-suited dad
handed the keys to the Man,
and for an instant each man there
knew himself a part of something
suddenly immense,

as when,
in the old myths, a bored god
dresses up like one of us, and falls
through a summer thunderhead
to shock us from our daydream drabness
with heaven’s dazzle and razzmatazz.

George Bilgere


Seeing as we all seem to be in a semi-permanent mode of waiting: waiting for life to return to normal, for the pandemic to end, for the election, for the air to be breathable again, this seemed a good time for Galway Kinnell’s poem, “Wait.”


Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

Galway Kinnell


And  you can hear him read it. He has such a wonderful voice: click here