Tomas S. Butkus | Poems: "Mutation of Generated Language" (2003)

part II

Documentary Crowds   £

disasters       that catch the sleeping
in their eyelashes       the outline of death’s fanaticism
they are knocked down       crushed on the way to the abyss
under the muddy       city balconies

getting stuck       in a span of time
eating bread       speck by speck       remaining in January
gone silent       in the bosphorus straits       their sickly children
                     stealing balls

they are babylon’s captives
answering in can       non-torn arms
never getting to the judgment day       in their eyelashes
              the blood-wrong left
by the retreating


How Today Will Be Written   £

and the living       in the facsimile of the future
       buried       in the love of bodies
and their only true ground
               a memorial for tin soldiers
how today will be written
                     still yesterday       and never
it is better to know       what bodies for their love
this muteness       will be found
in our voice       and the earth
quaking              our coming fate


Black Verse   ¥

I don’t believe what I write
and yet       these words go away
is it already       time for them
time       that cuts
out everything alive now in me
could it be       that echelons of light
or these black verses
humanity’s meteorite through the sky
across mountain peaks
                     along oceans
they are suffused with rubbing mist
why do the readers hear       that which already was
why do believers read what       what is yet
       to be written
why do black uniform-clad men and women
maybe it is the soot covered snow
or is it victory days in the white house
       maybe it is the eyes of the unsworn
saying       something else before mutiny

who will write down this


The Surf Raised By A Long Sunset   £

in the midday camps of the living       
a surf of echoes
       guards you
accordingly       you are forced to stay
on your own scaffold
and something keeps going
it’s the blade
       you await
until the edge       ends

the smaller the other me
the wider his way
and he will lead
to nowhere
like the surf
       ised by a long sunset


part III

Up From the Home Threshold   

the train, having missed the dusk,
passes the fire of crossings.
the fires besiege the eye;
eyes, smoldering in the sleeping body
meet them with fear.
but anyone
could quench the light, when –
in the necessity of perennial flow – it explodes;
could overtake the endless threshold of trestles,
when – in the speed of a scream –
it has stepped over the runner,
unleashed from the dark


Le Monster Dans La Forêt   

the feverish pines pierce the midnight of wards. the air
is suffused with sleeping hunger.

but my eyes do not find the way in the ruptured bones –

only on every third sigh,
only on every umpteenth sole
can one hear their footsteps in between the crossties.

but the surgery train car forces me to return,
the thinning forest


Awaiting the Flood   ¥

I'm not a river
in drought, its bed bursts out of dikes
flooding roads and roadsides
I am unrealized
this gaze, evening flames drown in its valley
crossed by the bridge of the horizon
this gaze solidifies the waters
and from the angle of the belvedere
one hears an echo
each stairway step is meaningful
but not a single day
is ready for it –
to evaporate that liquid and transparence
for which we climbed the spruce
looking into the morning mouth, a cavity


part "Dielands"

Fullmoon Emptiness   £

the advent of light after dark
and semen travels on beyond the beliefs
the family genes
and phobias

but now only the streets travel on

leaving behind men and women
all of those who are ignorance
deep down
in the machine’s demolished voices


Volcano Dweller   

you cannot choose father       speech
or yourself
who are you?
you are moved by a woman’s heart
without it you feel like death
you have never lived under the sun
right before sunset
having her strike
you cannot give away
no prometheus
you are only the riot
it brings you at night
from the city’s magma
from the arms of the beloved
to your home
who are you?
and where is your       home?



so I’ll finish here.
love and death start to recede,
with no location, character, plot.
only utility poles with cables,
only the ice posts overhead
and crystal splinters on the rails
fill the private pressured knowledge.
behind you there is the same heart of the horizon,
which belongs to two people at once,
almost in the same coordinate,
almost the same entourage.
but how alien are these words.
I have grown them, being deaf,
I don’t know their meanings.
when I say them I hear them buzzing.
it’s a model of a dead train –
its painted-over hammer and sickle, the logic
is looming in the museum’s window.
it’s the ice post snapped from the oncoming echo
in the reddish horizon, it’s a wedge



Through The Tent Of Fire   £

the farther you go from me           from the drift-covered trunks in me
                                                 the honeycombed spittle in me

all the greater seems the road      from which you shrink away
                                                 from which you are forced to recede

and the clearer the shore             in its reflection the salinity of my blood
                                                and the ocean is burnt up by the sun

and a stronger stream                 and a stiffer muscle carries
                                                our bodies through the light

£ Translated by Kerry Shawn Keys & Edgaras Platelis
€ Translated by Edgaras Platelis and Becka Mara Mckay
¥ Translated by Edgaras Platelis, Jake MB Levin

Poems appeared in:
6 Young Lithuanian Poets. Vilnius: Vaga, 2002 (Documentary Crowds, How Today Will Be Written,
The Surf Raised by a Long Sunset, Through the Tent of Fire, Fullmoon Emptiness);
Tomas S. Butkus. Kas bus parašyta kaip šiandien. Klaipėdos menininkų namai, 2002
(Documentary Crowds, How Today Will Be Written, The Surf Raised by a Long Sunset);
Poetinis Druskininkų ruduo. Vilnius: Vaga, 2002 (Documentary Crowds, How Today Will Be Written,
The Surf Raised by a Long Sunset, Through the Tent of Fire);
Tomas S. Butkus. Snow Mining. Iowa City: The University of Iowa Center for the Book, 2002
(Up From the Home Threshold, Le Monster Dans La Forêt, Wedge);
Betoniniai triušiai. Dievas-Daiktas / Live. Vilnius: Eureka, 2010 (Awaiting the Flood)

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