Toxic Petals

photo: @John Stadnicki

People travel towards the water.

Believers and non-believers, abandoned,

wet books with pages turning themselves,

in the hot breeze.

 

In times of peace, the bread chooses wisely.

It chooses us.

To hear the summer from miles away – a sudden blast.

 

Toxic petals float in the air and

drop vertical shades of colour

on busy roads, on silenced barracks.

 

We all are the collective eyewitness,

the sleep-deprived well;

knowing litter pickers, mending

the gaps in this violent history.

 

 

A poem for ‘Europa‘ by Andrew Heath https://www.amazon.co.uk/Europa-Andrew-Heath/dp/B01LYHL716 

For further information on Andrew Heath’s music, please click here: https://andrewheath.bandcamp.com/

Expect nothing…

When you expect nothing, any piece of good news comes as a shock. I suppose the shock came today with the news that my poem ‘Winter Months in Chernobyl’ won the White Plum Press 122nd Poetry Competition, New York. Thank you Frank Watson and White Plum Press. There you go. This spring starts with a poem about winter.

 

Winter Months in Chernobyl

The fridge was a well-polished piece of furniture,
pristine-empty wall among other walls in the winter months.
Each morning, a soldier stopped by with a glass of milk –
the only white flag
to foretell a watery spring which never arrived.
In those days, we all slept in the mother’s womb,
taking turns to look after a small yellow bird,
as round as the sun.

One day, a guard with an empty face replaced the soldier.
The guard was quiet.
He liked to come by and sit with us,
inside the baking-hot void, and often,
he used a red pencil to mark my homework.
All my thoughts had unacceptable spelling errors.

Some time later, in April I think,
a blizzard took the guard away in an ambulance.
Food was on its way, and soap
and plastic dolls, clocks and iodine sweets.
A few of us grew feathers,
a few of us became photographs,
blindfolded legacy trapped in tulip bulbs.

Photograph: @John Stadnicki

The World According to a Child Soldier (III)

On my first day at school I learn to

say ‘yes’ to everything and to accept the dogs’ fight

for the best seat at the open-screen cinema,

although I have a V.I.P. ticket.

 

I learn how the silence starts with a dry pen,

how it ends in a battlefield,

among abandoned bones.

 

I learn to agree with the history,

for it has the right to choose terror

over Vermeer’s ‘Girl in Hyacinth Blue’.

The options’ book has a few missing chapters but

my teacher says that acceptance, not hope,

is the best weapon against dreams.

 

I learn that I was not born a slave but

I became one.

boy

Photograph: @John Stadnicki

In Other Words, Freedom

The fatal morning Europe woke up and thought it had something to say,

there was nobody else left in the world able to listen.

Oh, earth, the bones had gathered to queue for bread,

by the front door at Saint Joseph seminary.

 

An ordinary day for ordinary death.

The bakery opened and closed.

The workers arrived on time for a last shift then went home.

The ovens had no traces of grain.

 

The ink stained hope filled up rusty water pipes.

The crowds’ whisper went on, up the hill, out of the city.

 

After that, freedom meant nothing.

It all came down to

who could hold the front running place the longest.

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Games During the Cold War

The winter Clara and I secretly discovered socialism

we had nothing left in the house

that was worth burning.

 

The frost surrounded the bedroom,

we talked to keep warm

and I suggested to write on the walls.

 

We used the kitchen knife to sharpen crayons

and kept at it for a couple of hours.

‘All western countries, enemies of the people!

Kill the foreigners!

Kill Ronald Reagan!’

I thought Ro-nald was such a bad name

for a man who never wrote children books,

probably he deserved to die.

 

My spelling was not very good at that age,

so the room filled with rainbows instead.

Clara and I laughed.

 

At that point, we felt hungry and I remembered

mother kept the bible covered with cloth

on top of the fridge

so I lifted the shiny red cover, sliced it in very small pieces

and added water and salt.

The feast carried on for a bit.

 

Clara and I chewed with determination several chapters.

We almost got half way through

when I read: ‘Then there shall be a time of trouble …for

every one that shall be found written in the book.’

 

And then, in the middle of our small apartment,

the game stopped.

I went back to the wall

and changed the words around.

‘Ro-land, orphan but free’.

piazza-del-duomo-milano-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph: @John Stadnicki, ‘Piazza’, 2016