Leviticus

Painting © Manuell Manastireanu, 2020

to Anne-Marie

 

We’d have peace if we meet

at a cemetery, she says,

 

but once there graves open,

the dead ask for headlines.

 

The good news is that I am

in the same place as Moses

 

walking around life when

sands shift. I reach my desert

 

retouching roots that match

the colour of parents’ home.

 

I forgot where they live now;

as close as my skin, as far as

 

a memory from when I was five.

There must be a house nearby

 

where someone stays awake

to warm up bottles of milk.

 

Instead of looking for it, I hold

a telescope aimed at the sky

 

marching past stray pebbles.

 

 

© Maria Stadnicka, June 2020

Colston versus Lenin – Using the Right Channels

Protesters taking down Colston statue. Bristol, UK / 7 Jun 2020

A statue of slave trader Edward Colston was torn down during an anti-racism protest in Bristol. The incident opened an ideological war in my household. We go over the pros and the cons of public disorder acts, we discuss the moral arguments which might justify or condemn these acts, while the Home Secretary, Priti Patel stands in Parliament reproving the thuggery committed by the Bristolian mob. Mayor Marvin Rees takes to national media to disapprove the protesters’ acts of violence during the past weekend. Social media is blasting. Opinion is split. Some ask for prosecution of violent mobsters, others express a sense of connection with the symbolic point made by protesters.

In Bristol, Colston’s statue went down in a matter of minutes, with the authorities’ disapproval. I remember that it took Ukraine 27 years to decide the removal of the infamous statues of Lenin from all its towns and villages. In 2017, all 1,307 statues went down, quietly and slowly, as a sign that Ukraine was finally ready to condemn its pro-soviet past, and to move on. The Ukrainian government went further and renamed streets, urban areas, parks, schools, in a national attempt to heal past injustice and loss of lives during the Soviet Era.

Ukrainians witnessing Lenin’s statue being taken down by local authorities. Aug. 2017

At my dinner table, the conversation is about the role of a peaceful protest in well-established democracies, as the Home Secretary carries on with her speech about the peaceful dialogue which needs to happen in our society. I’m reminded that we have structures in place to make peaceful changes under the common law, and following policies and procedures that safeguard equality in this country. There is a well-known corporate jargon about ‘using the right channels’ which is invoked on occasions when discrimination and inequality are at the centre of disputes between people, groups, societies, organisations.

Each private, public, voluntary, religious organisation, each workplace, each adult, teenager and child knows at least one principle of equality.  And yet, the more we know, the wider the social divide feels to those who have been, at least once, at the receiving end of inequality, of discrimination or injustice.

If we were equal, we should not need to be taught equality by the Home Secretary, as it would be an inherent quality of our social actions. Yet, Power teaches equality lessons using the boot of law against ‘thugs’, ‘criminals’, ‘mobsters’. A sign that we are not ready to recognise the injustice and its roots, nor to break free from past mistakes.

© Maria Stadnicka, June 2020

Seeds of Melancholia

2020 catches me off guard. I finish a glass of red wine and start my list of New Year resolutions brushing my teeth. My dentist suggested it, to prevent staining. Spitting paste foam in the sink I notice my second watch shows one past midnight. British time. On the other wrist, my first watch shows one past two. The time in the country I grew up. Youngsters already pissed pints on street corners, on the way home after celebratory fireworks. The end of a decade and all I’m thinking about is how lonely must have been for Ian Seed to share a hotel room with a woman he’d never met. And all due to a booking error.

© Maria Stadnicka 2020


! Recommended reading: Seed, I. (2018) New York Hotel, Bristol: Shearsman Books.  [TSL Book of the Year 2018]

 

BarKing Powder

When I was a child and lived in an overheated three-bedroom second floor flat, my brothers used to make water bombs. They would fill plastic bags up with cold tap water, tightly knot them, and throw them over the bedroom window every time they would see a pretty girl crossing the alleyway underneath. The water splashed all over the victim and they laughed their heads off, behind curtains. This detail came to mind watching the Brexit process taking place, month by month.

Photography: @JStadnicki, 2018

On reflection, the ‘hahaha-hihihi’ is coming this time from Downing Street as I get on with my form-filling life.

It’s has been hot recently (anyone noticed?!), even I can admit to that, and I’m used to Siberian summers. However, the heated discussions among the ministerial flock have raised the warning level from orange to red as nobody seems to have a clear view-point, nor an exit plan or a rescue package. It feels more and more like we’ve all been hoarded up into a long-haul flight, with a crew of unqualified attendants. In case of crash, it’s going to be ‘each to their own’.

Earlier in the week, the BBC mentioned how the PM is risking a revolt (I wish!) if the ‘type of Brexit she promised is not delivered’. Come on, Duncan, calling the PM ‘insolent’ on Twitter will not bring a velvet revolution. When Tusk issued a ‘last call’ at last week’s summit in Brussels, he didn’t mean your plane to the Maldives was about to take off. He meant business as you were about to sip another cooling lemonade. Last Saturday, a ‘livid’ Gove physically ripped up a report (did he really?!) for a new customs partnership with the EU. Qui prodest?

I get to understand miss Vicky when she said we needed a ‘practical, pragmatic deal that gives certainty to business and trade… not an ideological one’. The only things with it is …. everything on paper stays on paper and, therefore, is ideological. I’m back, for now, to reading Nausea. It makes, by far, a clearer point.

We are about to leave, I’ve got used to the idea by now, but there isn’t a destination on sight. We might find ourselves flying over the European economic space until the engine runs out of fuel. And then, let’s see who’s got a parachute.

©Maria Stadnicka, July 2018

published in ‘International Times’ / 3rd July 2018

International Times and ‘Imperfect’…pre-election dossier, 19th May 2017

The box arrived. The first books now being sent to the British Library. And, in the middle of it, a new poem published this morning in ‘International Times’ – the newspaper of resistance.

‘A Day at the Office’ – pre-election dossier.

http://internationaltimes.it/a-day-at-the-office/

 

Uranium Bullets

I always arrive late for everything.

Stuck in a traffic jam by the docks,

missed Noah’s boat but

survived under water

accidentally trapped between stolen books,

trapped by a word heavier than a stone,

lighter than a feather.

 

Hidden in the overcrowded wooden train carriage,

radicalised by the anonymity of my blue name-tag,

with a heart growing outside my body.

Each beat painfully visible to the guards

around the Monopoly table.

 

On the waiting list for ballet lessons,

radicalised by the price of uranium bullets on Mother’s Day

handwriting an apologetic note.

My deep eye silenced.

The familiar solemnity of a world without a face.

Photograph: @John Stadnicki, Bristol MMXVI

Flash News – ‘Imperfect’ Book Launch – 19th May @Black Books Cafe, Stroud, 7.30pm

Front cover design: @Andrew Morrison

We had to stop the car several times.

Weeks of anxious waiting finally ended.

A new, small, wrinkled, bloody, placental book

Arrived.

It had a natural birth and I called it ‘Imperfect’.

The book launch will be on Friday 19th May 2017, at Black Books Cafe, Stroud. 7.30pm for 8pm start. Free entry.

The book is available for pre-order at mariastadnicka@yahoo.co.uk.

The evening will be a vibrant performance with poetry and music, featuring Maria Stadnicka, Adam Horovitz, Jay Ramsay, Katie McCue and ‘Souled and Healed’.

Yew Tree Press – Philip Rush

Design and printer – Andrew Morrison

The evening host – Jay Ramsay

Books, drinks, sounds will be available! Come along!

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.

mm