Family Photograph

‘No-no!’ I shouted ‘the fish tank will stay in my room!’
The golden dead creature, floating on the green water,
had my mother’s face
before she went away.
I liked to keep everything neatly
in the same place where she left them,
undisturbed by the melting sun.

The dust shined
on the glass lid,
on the doll’s eye,
on my forehead
each night
when asleep in the hallway.

I sat down on the cracked lino,
covered my arms with leafs
and kept watching Clara tidying-tidying the house.
Her yellow fingers piled everything in a black bag.
She left the fish alone, with a sigh.

Looking at her moves up and down the stairs
I thought she looked a bit like
the one-winged butterfly
unable to jump out
through the shut window.

I wondered what butterfly meat tasted like,
if sliced with a silver blade;
what mother tasted like
in the moment I was released
honey coated pearl.
I put my elbow close to my lips
and smelled to see
if she was somehow hiding in there.

Clara tripped over my spread legs
but kept singing.
She did not look ahead.
I looked ahead
at each room
with a serious face.
My empty baby skin rested
on top of the rubbish bin.


About Wolves

We are asleep in a desert, back to back,
facing the mirrors.
My hands, behind your head, do not move.

The dog comes, takes a bite of my flesh
and goes away.
I keep still.

In a while, another dog returns to take a bite of me
and goes away.
The words seal the perfect wounds.
I catch the reflection of each letter moving,
wrapping the scars on my leg
with water knots.

At midnight, the wolves arrive to stare at me,
hungry, getting closer and closer.
I do not fight, nor howl. I let them
tear my skin apart
as you dream and sigh in your sleep.

Not me, a new born poem
comes to light at your rib, in the mud.


Games

The winter Clara and I secretly discovered
what socialism meant
we had nothing left in the house
that was worth burning.
The frost surrounded the bedroom,
we talked to keep warm
and I suggested to
write on the walls.
We used the kitchen knife to
sharpen the coloured pencils
and kept at it for a couple of hours.
‘All western countries, enemies of the people!
Kill the foreigners!
Kill RONALD REAGAN!’
I thought Reagan was a bad name
for a writer which never published
books for children
and therefore he deserved to die.
My spelling was not very good at that age,
so the room filled with rainbows instead.
Clara and I laughed.
We were hungry at that point
and I remembered mother kept
the bible covered with cloth
on top of the fridge.
‘But wouldn’t god be upset if we eat the holy word?
Clara asked. For a brief moment,
my spine shivered.
Fasting was a great virtue indeed but
I believed god was good with children
and forgave all their intended crimes,
so
I lifted the shiny red cover,
sliced it in very small pieces
and added water and salt.
The feast kept on for a bit.
Clara and I chewed with determination
several chapters. We got to the page number
three hundred and two when I read:
‘Then there shall be a time of trouble and
at that time thy people shall be delivered,
every one that shall be found written in the book.’
And then, in the middle of our small apartment,
my hair curled, my mouth stopped.
I went back to the wall
and changed the words around: RO-LAND.


The Supper

‘I suppose I’m hungry’ I whispered at last.
The birds looked at me with anger as I
stood up inside our empty room.

My skull became black,
my hair whiter and whiter,
my wings hit the ceiling light and
woke you up.

We chewed the supper with very small bites,
with precision, turned the pages
of our bedtime book,
probably had wine at the end of the ceremony.

Nobody laughed,
nobody knocked,
the neighbours kept the party going.
The frosted walls watched us asleep
on the burnt carpet.

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Poesis

Let’s sit down this time
on uncomfortable wooden chairs
and listen.
For once, the poet standing in front of you
is loose in the city
with no clothes on.
The circus is over,
the laughter has now replaced
the thick-white silence in which
you hear each other breathing.

Let’s sit and look up
at the stretched rope between cement and glass
and observe the holding hands soldiers
flying into the cracked sun.

I follow them slowly
with measured jumps
thinking that poetry does exist
by itself.

My words leave tiny reflections
on your naked bones and
once I am completely gone,
absorbed by the rarefied air,
each of you will remember only
the dust particles which
used to have my name: noun.

Now they returned to the womb
sharp verb, consequence
of listening
of reflection
of explosion
of language.

I am what none of you can face.
You are all going in different directions
looking to find me
in nothing.


The Flesh of the Word

The danger with hiding a poet from sunlight
is that you can never tell if he, the poet,
will ever grow to see
the walking stone up the hill,
the fall which always follows
very soon after.

His bones will never solidify
to carry well the memories
of lost days,
the echoes of mourning
in this deserted city.

There, where he exists, camouflaged
by the old rags you wear to work every day
he looks so familiar
you can mistake him with ease
for a younger version of your self,
the one which has something to say
to the world
but no voice.

Trapped, both of you, in a
permanent sunset
faithful imaginary friends.

Nothing moves forward,
nothing goes backwards either
without the ripen flesh of the words.

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Poetry collection ‘A Short Story about War’ published by Yew Tree Press, ready for the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, 30th March 2014

My poetry collection ‘A Short Story about War’ is now ready. It is a limited edition published by Yew Tree Press, Stroud, England, with a purpose: to support bursaries for children garbage pickers from Tondo, Manila.

The collection contains photographs created by the artist John Stadnicki, which produced the design and the concept.

‘A Short Story about War’ will be available at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival on the 30th March 2014, at 5pm. I will be reading texts from it at The Strand, Cheltenham. http://www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk/eventdetail.php?ID=80

The collection is available to purchase and will be sold on Amazon soon.

My thanks go to the poet Philip Rush for his editorial determination, work and constant support; and to the editor and storyteller Fiona Eadie.

Thank you to all the people which inspired me and to the Stroud Pamphlet Poets for the feedback they gave me during the readings at the Stroud Valleys Artspace.

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Maria Butunoi


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