Exile

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Witness to a repeated history

in exile I learn a new language

facing the border control

at Heathrow Airport I wear my mother’s coat

ready for a winter of politics

when I need to

I keep my mouth shut I change my name

to look just like her

white and uncomfortable

the blinding sun has been washed and

smells of violets

people are happy

in such a beautiful land

nobody minds me

amongst

wrapped-well-packed boxes

brushing the dust off velvet cutlery

the only remains

of life before baptism.

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photographs: copyright@John Stadnicki, 2016

In Other Words, Freedom

The fatal morning Europe woke up and thought it had something to say,

there was nobody else left in the world able to listen.

Oh, earth, the bones had gathered to queue for bread,

by the front door at Saint Joseph seminary.

 

An ordinary day for ordinary death.

The bakery opened and closed.

The workers arrived on time for a last shift then went home.

The ovens had no traces of grain.

 

The ink stained hope filled up rusty water pipes.

The crowds’ whisper went on, up the hill, out of the city.

 

After that, freedom meant nothing.

It all came down to

who could hold the front running place the longest.

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On The Treadmill

I have come to recognise God in a violent song,

played in the evening with broken forks and knives.

If I refuse to kneel, the winter starts at the end of September,

on Tuesdays, when I pass by the Jewish quarters.

My road to confession starts, just the same, in the morning chill.

The stones, the trees, the sky have a message,

of that I am certain, arrived at the wooden door of the hermitage.

And I knock and I knock.

A raven finally opens the white background.

The raven says with calculated words that, at present,

this government is busy.

Important wars need attending, in a land like no other.

I am given a form and I hear the padlocks.

I jump on the treadmill to keep warm.

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Photo: copyright@John Stadnicki, 2016

Statistics of a Nihilist

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The post delivered only one Christmas card this year. Not that it matters.

I received three phone calls from friends this year. Not that it matters.

Nothing I write has any consequence. The world carries on as before. 

However, I have given everything to everyone else.

 

Silent Country

On the wall opposite my bungalow

a blue advert drips on a stationary boat.

 

The sea is far away, overcrowded.

 

The acid rain dissolved the bold letters

which used to show my direction.

 

I have no choice but to stay vigil

behind this lighthouse

waiting for another explosion.

 

Do you see what I see?

We arrived, at last, at a dead end

a few souls making plans at a bus stop.

All that talking led us cattle to slaughter.

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On The Move

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If the time reflects on us
such a terrible burden,
we pretend that it is
only one way out but
it is simply not true.
Not allowed to assume the world on the move,
not allowed the reality of an argument
we might have had with Nietzsche before bedtime.
Now, when a revolution is almost unavoidable
the children endure for us
the refusal to kneel down
in a confession which faces a wall, not a god.

Games During the Cold War

The winter Clara and I secretly discovered socialism

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 crayons

and kept at it for a couple of hours.

‘All western countries, enemies of the people!

Kill the foreigners!

Kill Ronald Reagan!’

I thought Ro-nald was such a bad name

for a man who never wrote children books,

probably he deserved to die.

 

My spelling was not very good at that age,

so the room filled with rainbows instead.

Clara and I laughed.

 

At that point, we felt hungry and I remembered

mother kept the bible covered with cloth

on top of the fridge

so I lifted the shiny red cover, sliced it in very small pieces

and added water and salt.

The feast carried on for a bit.

 

Clara and I chewed with determination several chapters.

We almost got half way through

when I read: ‘Then there shall be a time of trouble …for

every one that shall be found written in the book.’

 

And then, in the middle of our small apartment,

the game stopped.

I went back to the wall

and changed the words around.

‘Ro-land, orphan but free’.

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Photograph: @John Stadnicki, ‘Piazza’, 2016