Shooting Position

 

We queue at the airport,

pretending to watch

a lunar eclipse.

 

We fear sharp objects.

Passengers hold boarding passes up,

flags in a moving crusade.

 

All windows are half-open,

but nobody looks out.

Heat seals glossy layers

of mist over my homeland.

 

We have outgrown the raincoat

tripping over someone’s thoughts

in the two-minute stop between stations.

 

At odd times, the planes take off.

Letters drop from above

on neighbouring gardens,

 

seeds growing tall in silent parks.

We remove luggage tags, barely notice

the music of a mid-air explosion.

 

Blades of grass stand ready to shoot.

 

© Maria Stadnicka 2020


‘Shooting Position’ is published in Somnia, out now at Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, UK.

‘Shooting Position’ was initially published in Meniscus, The Journal of Australasian Association of Writing Programmes, Canberra, Australia.

Grandfather Talks Modernity

© JStadnicki 1995

During the 80s, grandfather had the habit of listening to Radio Free Europe on a crackling wireless which worked only if bashed about a few times. I understood very little of what was said in news bulletins and documentaries, but some words kept coming up in conversations he’d have with friends at the village pub. Over a couple of beers, it felt as if their banter about freedom, dictatorship, justice was a disguised form of perversity which made no sense to me at that time.

Even now, recollecting those Friday catch-ups, their invectives sound pointless, though I’ve tried numerous times to find out what they were actually upset about. It must have been in the mid 90s, after grandfather died, when searching through a pile of his old stuff I found this:

Modern dictatorships come about gradually through policies which limit the access to information, books, art, and support an education system reliant on overheads, statistical outcomes and hierarchical leagues. They emerge in communities that support equality and diversity while slowly reducing the means which offer disadvantaged people and their families the benefit of services with real impact to their lives.

Modern dictatorships embed themselves in services which monitor and limit freedom of speech, and flag out people who disagree (or have the potential to disagree) with official discourses; they also produce political directives to serve partisan interests, while dominating the public discourse with narratives designed to create fear and panic.

Modern dictatorships ask citizens to report friends, colleagues, neighbours, and scrutinise differences between people instead of promoting inclusion and common purpose; they also make people obsess over how bad things can be, when they should stimulate creativity and learning. If people are born equal, they should develop equally. This cannot happen when they are scared. There is no progress after punishment, just pain and bitterness.

 

© Maria Stadnicka 2020


Published in International Times on 1st February 2020.

hermit age

When I feel lonely, I visit my local tip. Apart from Wednesdays, I’m guaranteed to find someone about, willing to help me get rid of a load of stuff which, up to that point, had prevented me from moving on in life. One time I discarded so much of my old junk that back home I noticed the front door sign was gone, and the post box which had my name on it. I got in, and a woman I’d never met before was moving about hoovering. She was wearing my shoes.

© Maria Stadnicka 2020

[From ‘Hermit Age’ sequence published in International Times on 25/01/2020.]

Binaries

© JStadnicki 2014

With the Doomsday Clock adjusted to one hundred seconds to midnight, it seems that the scientific community points a finger to the inevitable end which could engulf the world any day now. It is a narrative we are used to from history manuals and our recent past. Textbooks are full of numbers and data.

Unifications and destructions, wars and peace treaties, revolutions and resolutions. The collective conscious, mapped by dichotomies, makes better sense of realities when they are placed in opposition. It is a cultural binary thinking, focused on good-better-best and bad-worse-worst. It is easier to make meaning of things in conflict, as it is easier to understand war better than peace.

History always takes a closer look at how cultures come into being and how they are destroyed, and takes less time to look at what happened in between. The complexities of development entail, besides time, a higher level of engagement and perception. The consistent preoccupation with the specifics of our apocalypse is not just the measure of our own selfishness, but a fundamental thinking flaw, characterised by fear and apathy.

Looking at how communities got to meet their ends, without taking time to reflect on solutions, is bound to bring the finale even closer. Fear and adrenaline rush end up in apathy. They have done so for thousands of years, and brought us where we are today.

© Maria Stadnicka 2020

Otherhood

Last time my brother and I talked poetry, we ended up

arguing. His five-year old daughter found my book easy

to read, though it had a major flaw. No pictures. It made

everyone rather uncomfortable. Having to explain words

like ‘deluge’, ‘carnal’, ‘empiric’ without visual clues, it is

beyond my fatherly competency, he said. I often thought

that …Plus, he added, each time you write about me, things

get so twisted I’m not sure whether it’s me you refer to or…

I often think it’s the idea of him, or a bucket of old stuff

we picked up together moving about in the world. They are

mostly words he now repeats facing a neurologist, hoping

to pass a memory test. It’s me… the… fourth… ofTuesday…

The last time him.

 

© Maria Stadnicka 2020


 

Human Currency


© Maria Stadnicka 2020

Hermit Age

© JStadnicki, Paris 2019

Technology and I are not on good terms as of late. Due to limited memory space, mobile apps keep freezing. Vodanex contacted me a few times already with updated offers then with sound advice which I politely requested to have mailed over. The experts suggest that my memory clutter is most probably coming from the BooksApp; too many pages left open in standby. The longest kept on the waiting list has been Is God Happy?* I flick through an essay on socialism which Leszek Kolakowski started at page fifty-eight and finished at sixty-four. My phone pings: Congratulations! Time for a break! You now reached your daily reading goal!

© Maria Stadnicka 2020

[From ‘Hermit Age’ sequence published in International Times on 25/01/2020.]


* Kolakowski, L. (2012) Is God Happy? Selected Essays, London: Penguin Modern Classics.