Another Poem about Oranges

Mint Vinetu Bookstore, Vilnius

So, Jonas said, you should write a poem
about eating an orange at the counter.
It’s a tangerine, I thought,
but didn’t tell him. Does that matter?

Does it matter where the word goes?
Orange. Tangerine. In your mind.
I think of Frank O’Hara’s oranges,
about how terrible they are, and
life. I think of Led Zeppelin
and Page’s nostalgic guitar. What else?

The segments were sweet and tender,
cold from my backpack’s outer pouch.
(Winter in Vilnius is like a grave.)
It had rested there for frigid days:
I’m sorry if you were saving it,
William C. It’s mine now for the minute
it lasts, three minutes, an eternity, or
until this frame decays –

children scream like sirens as I write,
unburdened. My wife calls me down
to dinner. There’s an edge
to her voice. No one is listening
and I am to blame, poetry,
this distance from home –

an idea in the mind, the smell
of freshly cut grass, the mower
grumbling: a hungry beast
vibrating against my thigh,
spewing ghastly fumes
from the land of Ulro that writhe
like souls in Dis, never to return,
like this orange, that love, although,
it was always just a tangerine.


Photo by Reuben on Unsplash

Rimas Uzgiris

Rimas Uzgiris is a poet and translator whose work has appeared in the Paris Review, Barrow Street, Hudson Review, Poetry Review (UK) and other journals. He is author of North of Paradise (Kelsay Books), Tarp (poems translated into Lithuanian, shortlisted for Poetry Book of the Year), translator of poetry collections by Ilzė Butkutė (A Midsummer Night’s Press), Gintaras Grajauskas (Bloodaxe), Marius Burokas (Parthian), Aušra Kaziliūnaitė (Parthian), and Judita Vaičiūnaitė (Shearsman). Uzgiris holds a PhD. in philosophy and an MFA in creative writing from Rutgers-Newark. Recipient of a Fulbright Grant, a NEA Translation Fellowship, he teaches at Vilnius University.