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"The Destruction of the Sawmill" is from Atminties laivas (Vilnius: Vaga, 1981)

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For more Poetry from Lithuania

Antanas A. Jonynas Antanas A. Jonynas


Translated by Vyt Bakaitis Vyt Bakaitis


The Last Poem

Man I don't know whether this
world that can demolish worlds
will crumble away in flames
you cannot even make an ant

and what's it really worth
knowing substantial doubt:
if it's fear that makes me doubt
I only hold my fear in doubt

and though madness prevails
I don't go berserk I just write
human life alone
has value there's no
                           thing I ask for


The Destruction of the Sawmill

Contact broke off we were deprived of air
black whirling sand spouted up between us
nearby the sawmill motors went on pumping
and sawdust came flying out the door

I could feel our body temperature climb
and the few words I did manage to speak
sounded oddly hollow to myself as though
boulders held down the lungs inside my chest

dangling his feet somewhere beside the reservoir
a man sat with a prayer caught inside his throat
a black pigeon circled overhead
the horses licking his body were nearly dead

a black mercedes rolled along the road
weighed down by the same interminable heat
and those who had one truth to live by
went groping to find a hasty alternative

trees snapped like cardboard in the wind
with memories of generations never to commence
we sat in class repeating a history
I'm not sure won't be there tomorrow to repeat

that day the tree fell just like history
worlds writhing like a snake just caught
now nature saw itself parched out of breath
through a blend of smoke fire and sawdust

I clenched a bloody thornbranch in my teeth
and the sharp thorns sank into my throat
the sawmill stopped its clattering din
and flapping away zipped off into the past