For Now, Let’s Just Talk

There is no other sign of life here,
only my fingers caught between
the wooden pages of a newspaper.

When everyone else builds
the flat packed cement houses outside,
me and the nurse behind the glass
scrutinise each other, munching dry biscuits
and maybe
saying sorry for the spoilt tea nobody drinks.
Of this I am not yet so sure.

I suppose she checks the pulse,
the nurse with a concrete face
keeps filling in the charts
with the same precision she fills in
the crossword spread open
over my legs.
I do not mind.

I say to her ‘could you please remove the batteries
from the white clock’ the time
does not matter now
what matters, I think she says, is hanging on in there.
Her own watch upside down
hanging on, just about, with her name badge.

I offer her my bed.
I could after all sit in the waiting room
by the door
or make her coffee, I suggest.
But Susan points her finger at that hole,
uncovered wound on my chest.

‘For now, let’s just talk.’
The bare wall is
the last thing I remember and
Susan watching the news.

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Photo: John Stadnicki


White Shirt

You see, it can rain with blood drops.
The proof the white shirt I’ve been wearing for the past two days
on my walks through the city.
Now ruined.
I have been saying all along that
someone died there at the top floor
but you keep reading, ask me to
sit down and drink the cup of tea
before it gets cold.
Death is not a matter of your concern, you say,
we have to hope like everyone else
for a better world and
let the justice be done.
Of course, but I
always like the tea very cold,
my hopes interrupt your thought process
as they remind you every day that
growing old means nothing.
I am the same unnecessary love,
making a spectacle of myself,
making a revolution out of silvery-grey ribbons.
In the big void, I keep standing up
with my stained shirt still on
and say no.

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Photo: Maria Butunoi


Evening Landscape

(for Natalina)

There is a map between the two of us
nailed into the dinner table
with rusty hair pins.
We sit quietly in front of it
and wait for the evening lights.
We summon the facts, the war
which brought us here
but still going on
somewhere outside in the world.
We estimate the length of a journey
of infinite beauty
amongst skyscrapers:
you, going South with the trees,
me, going North with the earth,
but nevertheless both still moving
with a coin in hand
in front of the same mirror.

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Photo: John Stadnicki


Final Dispositions (I)

Perhaps if I suddenly died for
just a feather
it could be I suppose due to
an algorithmic error.
Sad, I know, not to realise
at my age that
such a weight
would actually cost my life
and probably regret a bit
my lack of understanding.
But only a bit.

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Photo: John Stadnicki


Movement

Although the corridor seems so narrow
I slipped through the thick air
all my life
until I could hear no more.

Over the years, I maintained
a perfect pose, a delicate absence,
locked and unlocked the world
with a serious determination.

At times, the corridor became smaller and smaller, populated with thoughts but the inconvenient journey
hit forward to break through.

At the end, the background silence made you come out and see
what I was doing there, lurking alone
with no sense of movement.

Born again in a new language,
on a yellow blanket
even I had no words for such an accident.
My being here is now different.


Conversation with a Stone

(‘Perhaps this is not a poem…’ C. Milosz)

And because I was made a poet
a lot of blood is spilt
on the neat grass, when I walk.

For fear that I will have
nothing to give back
I collect old books.

My word confesses to its imperfection
with the honesty of a fractured second.
Not that I mind,
not that I have high hopes,
only tall steps.

Because of this self deluded truth,
it happens that waking up in a desert
is not a surprising coincidence,
but a certainty, like a niggling pain in a missing limb.

I am not grateful to sleep facing the wall
but hey! someone needs to show a bit of courage
and say nothing
when nothing is to be said.

And though no one will remember
the poem once written but me,
after all, forgotten things are
the only possessions worth keeping.

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Photo: John Stadnicki

http://www.johnstadnicki.co.uk/Site/Welcome.html


Monologue

She keeps on looking behind
at the corn fields,
her blue dress follows her skin
as she walks ahead of me
into the wood.

The colour of her ink has now changed
with her
everything reminds me of home.
When she leaves, the house leaves with her,
the noise of the smashed flower pots
wakes the neighbourhood up.

I am not awake:
dream her dreams,
jump out of bed at night to go to the bathroom
and yes! look at the box of chocolates,
shining emptiness,
look in her bag
for treats, for sweets,
for a word, for something
once the talking is done.

She reminds me to close the door
in the dark, tripping over her hollow slipper
yes! I suppose
the only surprise in solitude is death.

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Photo: John Stadnicki


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