Soldiers

The dreadful day we had feared

arrived at last. Possibly March the first.

At the picket line.

We held hands with the same familiar tenderness

maybe shared the same memories witnessing

the course of events as the revolution unravelled.

With a kind of regret my fist hit

the walls of a prison surrounded by weaved carpets.

With photographs stored in books

different directions awaited.

Never to see each other again.

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Of Hats and Social Change

It might be that the Panama Papers will become as iconic in history as the fashionable Ecuadorian ‘panama hat’; a striking and a bit ostentatious item, which everybody wants but nobody knows how to properly wear it. Not in Britain. For obvious climatic restrictions.

 

However though, on Monday morning, Britain received such a hat, delivered by the mediatic postal service, whilst not wide awake yet, post Easter holiday, when the weather forecast was not that brilliant anyway. Would it worth the bother, for the sake of seven or eight hours of sunshine a week? Should it return to sender and have the money back?

 

The British rich and the poor found out, with some surprise, that once they had signed for the goods, the sender remained unknown. And, as the box opened, millions of other items emerged. Things which we all ‘kind of’ knew about, but wished we hadn’t. The truth.

 

The shock of discovering your master licking his honey smeared fingers in your own pantry. The shock of being discovered and still trying to say ‘sorry it won’t happen again’ type of thing.

 

In a society where the wealth and the poverty cohabit undisturbed, in their own universe, parallel with each other, it becomes increasingly difficult to formulate an opinion about social injustice, corruption, and privileged few. Almost impossible to do something about it. This explains the public opinion’s delayed reaction to the recent ‘Panama Papers’. But does it justify it? And even if, let’s say, something could be done about it, what resolution would not involve fundamental change and transformation, on both sides?

 

Given the realities of international and national politics, each of us is, to some extent, victim of conflicting demands between truth and power. Observers of social reality, rather than makers of it. Furthermore, the unfortunate circumstances, which define the current trends, deepen in a climate where radical thinking and critical debate do not address the core values on which we built our social structures and institutions.

 

With the current revelations in mind, it is rather justifiable, once more, the duty to bring in focus the possibility of change, which, ‘to some extent’, comes from our desire ‘to create the future rather than merely observe the flow of events. Given the stakes, it would be criminal to let real opportunities pass unexplored.’ (Noam Chomsky, 2014, ‘A Genuine Movement for Social Change’)

 

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Peace Talk

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A peace talk has taken place
today between me and these wounds; the treaty signed
on a scrap of blank paper
with a determination which lasted
for over thirty eight years.
Thirty eight long roads.
Ended quietly in a town with
almost no street lights and yet
I reluctantly said yes
for the sake of another last hour.

Preparations

I am getting used to passing the time
in the solemn company of my wood beams.
Perhaps weeks, perhaps years
in which I have been witness to the world’s determination to name the unborn,
to possession and
to abandonment,
to preparations coming from planning uncertainty,
and to my own weakness.
I have not become better
although I lit candles and prayed
and I mattered.
I scribbled more question marks on waiting room tables than I gave answers
and
I felt the humility of a man proven wrong when
I hoped I had done enough.
Somehow,  each time I rebelled
I ended up cleaning up the wreckage,
packing, unpacking,
forgiving everything
but not myself.

701

The Reality of Lines

I am the best like this
with nothing left
hanging
dried purple tulips
at each door handle.
With no audience
I face the blackness of each line
to learn what remains of reality.
The hope that all could be new
when everything is
already gone.

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@Maria Stadnicka

About Skin

WESTGATE STREET 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(photo: John Stadnicki)

 

 

 

Here I watch the day.

The storm over. A memory on glasses, on broken shoes.

My shadow reflected

on the opposite wall

sits still.

Borders? I have seen one.

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Photo: ‘Border’, Maria Stadnicka, 12-September-2015

As the refugees’ crisis is widening across Europe, the public opinion becomes more polarised, with people supporting the Schengen agreement for settlement whilst others oppose the migration from the Middle East and Africa. In England, my decision to collect and deliver donations to Calais has been welcomed and facilitated by family, friends and work colleagues on one side, and criticised on another side on social media by a few online acquaintances which disagree with the idea of personal intervention in a problem that should be left to the international political factors. And this is how, on the way to Calais, the concept of ‘border’ started to emerge in my mind as my new British passport was scanned at Dover. Watching the ferry depart I thought of Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian ethnographer which summarised a valid point on this matter. ‘Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.’

With this is mind, I entered the refugees’ camp in Calais on Saturday and observed the difficult living conditions of thousands of mostly young men, lucky enough to have walked or travelled for weeks in search of stability and peace. Dreaming maybe to be accepted in Britain whilst waiting for help from a country which they see a promoter of fairness and humanity. Some have been there for months, others just weeks.

Thousands of tents were spread across the camp but there were people still living in cardboard shelters, in flip-flops and T-shirts with autumn coming and the rain slowly settling in during the next months. People I met looked at me with curiosity and friendliness. One welcomed me and asked if I had a good night on the way there. Another asked for a pair of shoes or trousers. And more and more slowly surrounded the van. But having just fifty boxes of supplies in the van made the distribution impossible. What about the people in need of supplies, which could not communicate in English, nor French, could not ask, could not arrive at the van, could not reach for my help?

People living in the camp need help and support, and donations are slowly going and are being distributed by very few charities and private companies as well as volunteers and locals. Packing and then safely and equally distributing food, clothing and other necessary materials to thousands of people is a process which takes time and logistics. This positive action can only be successfully delivered before winter comes with more help from volunteers and strong support from the international community. As the European budget is spent on numerous emergency summits, the conflict between decisional factors becomes apparent and the people involved in helping the refugees in Calais get a sense that the governments have no real understanding of what needs to be done on the ground.

The governments do not have understanding. But governments, with their complicated power structures, are not people. They are, at this point, the borders. Those volunteers spending their time and resources, dedicated night and day to help the refugees are my example of humanity as well as my hope. I have heard their names (Riaz, Maya, Christiane, Vincent, Clare, Toby) and their voices on the phone helping me help others. I have not seen their faces, nor their colour, but I have seen their actions, their beliefs and values, which made me write this to ask for yours.

 

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Photo: Volunteers receiving donations for Calais refugees, John Stadnicki

Thought

 

to M. M.

 

Even without a language

I walk that way

marching towards the watery sun

with anger.

It never rains inside of an egg

so

I choose to deny

the sea born

in my rib cage

and go on

being allowed to hope.

chairPhoto: Maria Stadnicka

Fractal

At night I can only look at you
through a keyhole.
Sitting on one knee, on the floor,
I go on writing my thoughts
on pieces of cloth.
Locked in a motionless day
I keep busy
cutting my memory in perfect squares
to check how small
you became over the years.
I measure and trim
the infinite distance
between the rooms in my heart
with blunt scissors
and wish
we had more time or at least
we had more courage
or beauty.
But all we did in those days was sleep.
We were very good at keeping quiet
until the moment
silence, at last, settled in.

2015/01/img_3982.jpg Photo: John Stadnicki

Thought

All the necessary preparations
were done. This is
what they will say when
the truth will eventually come out.

Although she never arrived
like everyone else
during the visiting hours
she almost made it.

If she had waited for a bit longer
someone, maybe you listening now,
would have noticed
the eventual passing
of such a miracle.

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Photo: Maria Butunoi