Midlands in Lockdown / Week #10 / At Eye Level

Photography © John Stadnicki, May 2020

Fruit Season

Gloucestershire, Midlands, UK / May 2020

I figure out that if you live by water and feel hungry, it takes an afternoon of chewing yesterday’s leftovers to feel mud on your tongue. And if a passer-by gives you a bad apple, you ought to be thankful, appreciate what you’ve got, watching others dying of starvation. But when you hear that the well-wisher was God, which happened to be running late for a meeting in the nearby mansion, you wish you had spat the rotting fruit back at Him. God could have done better. By then it is too late. The meeting He was rushing to would be running on and on for years. For as long as your lifetime.

© Maria Stadnicka, May 2020

Urban Afterlife / Week #9 Midlands in Lockdown / United Kingdom



Nobody tells undertakers

that after a funeral, paperwork awaits

management’s signature, in boxes

at the end of desk rows.


And yet, their work shifts finish

with ink smudges between graves,

then a short pause to change suits

before driving back to the office.


Their diesel engines flatten down

places of rest. Glass, iron, gravel:

vital signs of death. Machines know

that cities thrive in negative spaces,


oil sweat traces carved in buildings,

roads marked with signs of the cross.

Traffic systems operate for hawks gliding

above roundabouts. Clear passage ahead.


Tar-water dams open half-way. Night.

Machines argue that power cuts add

imagination to people’s lives. So much

for seeing light in unexpected corners, they say,


for darkness roosts watchful in all beginnings.


© Maria Stadnicka, May 2020

Photography: © John Stadnicki, May 2020

The Earth Inside / Week #8 in Lockdown / Midlands, United Kingdom

You wander countless streets

pass a pandemic that seems

to go on forever.

But nothing is eternal.

Photography © John Stadnicki, 2020

Rite of Lockdown / Week #7 / Midlands / United Kingdom




Sunday lingers on scent of paint,

tobacco and spring. Our kitchen-war

sprouts from a conversation on books

about people we both know. I say


I’d met doctor Zhivago queuing

at Nero’s, heard him asking a barista

about the fate of taiga-trees

at the height of a mining season.


You think they are cut short then stop

growing. I lock my paperbacks

in a cupboard; they remind us

of all the ink twisted in verse, seeded


in layers of gravel. Our verbs reach

the pit of a quarry, and seal over.

Snow forests shoot up in tears,

we trip over extension cables in our flat.


© Maria Stadnicka, May 2020

Photography: © John Stadnicki 2020

Midlands / Lockdown in Britain / Week #6


Photography © John Stadnicki, May 2020