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photo: Algimantas Aleksandravičius

 

The fountain of Kerry Shawn Keys’ poetry is in the Appalachian Mountains, urban America, and Lithuania, but the roots go worldwide. From 1998 to 2000, he taught translation theory and creative composition as a Fulbright Associate Professor at Vilnius University. He has dozens of books to his credit. His work ranges from under-mountain vagrant-pastoral and urban-salvage to theatre-dance pieces to flamenco to children’s books to meditations on the Tao Te Ching. He has performed and recorded with the free jazz percussionist and sound-constellation artist, Vladimir Tarasov (CD-Prior Records), and now quarterbacks the jazz Nada Quartet. Recent books are Night Flight (poems), 2012; Pienas (prose tales and plays), 2013; Journey of Peng, One Hundred Poems from China. Keys received the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America in 1992, and in 2005 a National Endowment For The Arts Literature Fellowship. He was a Senior Fulbright Research grantee for African-Brazilian studies, and is a member of the Lithuanian Writers Union and PEN. He received a Translation Laureate Award from the Lithuanian Writers Union in 2003. He also translates from Portuguese and co-translates from Mandarin.  Keys writes a Dispatch for Poetry International, SD. He is the Republic of Užupis’ World Poetry Ambassador, and Chevalier of the Order of the Silver Garlic Bullet of the Republic of Užupis.

 
 
Sonnet To Happiness

 

Hour after hour staring at one another,

their lips melded as idle as embers.

Neither hears the chainsaw in the woods

nor smells the shish kabob on the bonfire

burnt to crisp and fallen in the coals.

 

This may be the beginning of the world

or the end, but for them everything’s forever

now under the gathering storm and laughter

of the breeze passing through the oak leaves.

Everything is the mirror of their silent eyes.

 

No one will touch them, not even the wing

of a wren in the morning singing to the sun.

They are dead to the world, apples plummeting

in the garden, earthworms crawling on their skin.

 
 
Clear Night

 

When I left home

she took leave behind

a wind of clouds.

 

On this clear night near death,

the moon is the white leaf

of my face.

 
 
Almost Invisible

         

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