when finally God agreed
to go ahead with the interview
we’d planned ages back
I had no further questions
so I offered him
a ham sandwich instead
Photo: Maria Butunoi
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
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.
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.
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.
(‘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.
Photo: John Stadnicki
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
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,
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.
just as you are about to
close a window
and a bird
abruptly flutters into the room
exactly like that
she drops her wings on the lawn
and jumps back
into the sea
Everyone said I was
looking in the opposite direction
when the car hit me.
The sun was very tall
at the beginning of the longest day,
the birds kept flying above the spilt blood on the pavement.
The crowd gathered around,
covered me with a blanket,
put a coin on my eyelid.
The traffic stopped. The sandwich maker over the road
made the sign of the cross in the air
and came closer to watch
the phone still ringing inside
the white pocket of my white dress.
The unreturned call echoed in heaven
for a long while.
A week later, news got to you
about the girl’s body found by the railway station
in a silver box.
Photo: John Stadnicki
What is a heart, when all the world is dead?
The sound of letters dropped
will not revert the time.
And what’s a line without a drop of ink,
when all of us have reached the closed horizon?
I do not see my own hands, in mud,
as I am neatly seated in abyss,
nor I can talk about the summer days
(they’ve never been arranged or bricked
in any way).
What is my eye without the face I knew
(reflected on the path), if not the shadow
of a burn in your shirt.
And Dante, arh the liar him, what would he be today,
without the greatness of the sacred cloth,
if nobody had thought,
before the word, to reinvent inferno
in simple fragments of repeated hours?
The longer days make now the clouds look longer,
the thunder keeps the burning town awake,
immortals on the porch,
define the only emptiness which cannot live in books.
The sudden closure of my tiny palms.
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.
I do not happen to know
the purpose of our war
but I’m working hard to
remember the words you
scribbled on the piece of paper
which set fire to the entire land.
Then I could not catch
the imagined rain on the glass roof
nor the light of the earth
the battle just happened.
Out of the blue, both of us
on the horse’s back,
measured with precision
the distance between
the polished guns.
The bullets hit my left arm,
hit open my skull;
the flesh exploded in thousands of pieces,
covered the yellow sky
with hair and skin.
At the end,
the music kept playing again,
you followed the clear road,
I followed you:
nothing more than a perfect, unfinished poem.