Man versus Institution – the Narrative of Despair

Photograph: ©John Stadnicki 2018

In recent months, I have been visiting my local surgery on a weekly basis and it has become a matter of routine to book visits and then wait my turn to be seen and checked. A matter of luck to have so many appointments, but not so lucky to have to report the effects all this prescribed medication have on me and then to find out that everything has been recorded, that the doctor has noticed if I washed my hair or not, or if I wear black, too much of it, or if I smiled or not. But then who cares anyway. I am the number written in all my medical history and my number defines my apprehension to allergies and infections.

It is the flu season, therefore busy. This morning a woman takes her nail file from her handbag and finishes her manicure just before she is called in. A man in his thirties, in a dark grey suit, with muddy brogues, on the phone with someone called Helen organises his daily appointments. The person sitting next to me finishes a BLT and wipes his hands on my chair then keeps on texting.  The waiting room, packed. At 11 o’clock, twenty-two people in waiting, talking, texting, arguing, having coffee. Busier here than the bus station just across the road. And these people, most of them, look lonely. And for this, we now have a new solution and a new scope.

The cabinet announced this week a new appointment. A minister for loneliness in response to a documented increase in mental health cases, to a reported sense of disconnection and social isolation. According to figures published by The Guardian, we are talking here about nine million people, which is a significant slice of loneliness in the British society. Furthermore, NHS Digital shows that prescriptions for antidepressants reached an all-time high with over 64 million items dispensed in 2016. And this represents a massive 108.5% increase in a period of ten years.

This is a clear indication that we now institutionalise loneliness spending billions on pharmaceutical companies when very few alternative solutions are available to the local communities. We witness a serious lack of professional support for people suffering from mental health issues, although it is statistically recognised that one person in five is affected, at some point in their life, by mental health issues. Yes, about the time to do something about it. But what the government is choosing to do is to add to the amount of bureaucratic garbage the ministerial departments produce on a weekly basis, without concrete results or impact at the deeper levels of our society. Let’s talk further numbers.

A cabinet minister cashes in over £141,000 a year, without bonuses, travel and communication expenses, without the support staff and other technological aids. You could double or triple the sum and easily get over the half a million threshold. A mental health nurse’s annual income, at the beginning of their career, barely touches £22,000. My local surgery, or others across the UK, could easily benefit from employing further ten newly qualified nurses or a few therapists. I live in a small community where resources are stretched and stretched further and where, at times, waiting for hours to be seen by a practitioner has become an acceptable rule.

Who benefits from a new ministerial portfolio when it is historically demonstrated that no institution has ever protected the individual, when, actually, the institution is there to protect itself through complicity to a policy of silence against corruption, error and monetary gains?

I want a Ministry of Despair!

©Maria Stadnicka, 2018

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Britannia Libre

Photograph: ©John Stadnicki 2018

 

Teach me how to read Rublev’s majestic blue,

everything written on my skin

over so many years,

 

the omnipresence of all the irrelevant victories

you had and

you washed with blood-red water,

 

look back at the world with

the same tenderness I

look at an infant,

 

give way to a requiem for the pilgrim

fallen indoors like a moth negotiating

its destiny

with each letter.

 

Unknown thy name.

 

For the first time, I

walk. Blind, absent.

I become tomorrow.

 

©Maria Stadnicka 2018

 

 

War Correspondence

Photograph: ©John Stadnicki, MMXVII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A train passed, at a slow speed,
through iced waters.
It could have taken minutes
or maybe days.

The crushing sound of my doubt,
the unnecessary beauty,
push the march backwards.

Blessed be the stones. So many
are thrown at us from above.
A thousand years of anger in one place.

The graveyard is now in bloom.
Bread-flowers are shooting upwards.
Defeated.

My defeated words, stronger than my weapon.

 

(Poem published in ‘Stride’ magazine, available here)

Thank you, Rupert Loydell!

 

 

 

 

Panis Angelicus

 

Photograph: ©John Stadnicki, ‘Corpus I’ – MMXVII

 

(for Katie McCue)

 

The soldier, asleep by his polished sword,

was somehow surprised.

Such a big storm!

 

The colours, all of them, disappeared.

The city collapsed in a big crevasse.

 

When she cried,

everybody cried.

 

The roads, the windows had to be shut

when she needed silence.

 

The words had to be wrapped in silvery knots

just before

they became people.

 

The stories stopped being written,

the earth stopped,

the war stopped.

And simply because she had

a fear of butterflies.

 

The butterflies were not scared of her.

 

Photograph: ©John Stadnicki, ‘Corpus II’ – MMXVII

The Chess Game / Jocul de Sah / LitArt

 

Pentru cititorii in limba romana, saptamana aceasta a sosit cu o surpriza minunata. O pagina de poezie publicata in LitArt publicatie lunara de cultura, tiparita la Tg. Mures, sub egida onorifica a filialei locale a Uniunii Scriitorilor.

Multumiri redactorului-sef Adrian Armand Giurgea si echipei redactionale pentru promovarea valorilor culturale romanesti.

Pentru mine are o semnificatie speciala. 14 ani de cand am publicat ultima oara in Romania. 14 ani lungi, foarte lungi, de absenta si de dor. Editia tiparita este distribuita in Romania si poate fi accesata electronic in format pdf aici:

http://www.litart.ro/fileadmin/template/pdf/litart_iunie_iulie_2017.pdf

 

 

For Romanian readers, this week arrives with a beautiful surprise. Nine poems published in LitArt, Tg. Mures, Romania, under the Romanian Writers Association patronage. Gracious thanks to the editor-in-chief Adrian Armand Giurgea as well as the whole editorial team for the great work you are doing in promoting the cultural values of our generation, in Romania and abroad.

This has a particular significance for me, as it marks 14 years since the publication of my last poem written in Romanian. 14 long years.

The magazine is available in print and online, downloadable here:

http://www.litart.ro/fileadmin/template/pdf/litart_iunie_iulie_2017.pdf

Photograph: @Georgiana Calinescu-Barber

Miss Susan Warlord Ibrahim

Photograph: @Maria Stadnicka

For many years, I had received no letters, no news. I had my tea at six, I went to bed at ten. I had good dreams, lined with bleached fabric, well-ironed. Stark. I had a dog, I had a cat and that was all. But it was Susan who called me ‘dearest’ in a long-winded email, sent from her West African google account. Susan whose father had recently died. On Thursday 28th April 2011. In a fight with the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast. She admitted she had found me through the internet and that I would see the whole thing as a pleasant surprise. She wore blue, she said, and came to me with a business proposition. As she was looking for a long-term relationship and for investment assistance, Susan promised me a hefty fifty percent. If only I said ‘yes’, if only I agreed to kiss her back with my account, to help her find a way around a hundred million. Miss Susan Warlord Ibrahim at gmail dot com. She loved me. She did. Every day for a month, at half past seven, her love arrived in my spam box. I thought to write her back and call it off; or just to ask if she had considered pet allergies. And send her a detailed review which looked at the recent increase in reported cases of British dermatitis. But Mondays and Tuesdays, between eight and nine, I work to correct the grammar errors in my final draft. One hundred and twenty pages so far. And still writing.

 

The Return of the ‘Smallminded Books’

Smallminded Books is a beautiful project created by Rupert Loydell in collaboration with poets across the country and explores the concept of poetry as a gift token. It is about publishing small, very small books, in limited edition. As small as my palm, as big as my heart. Little books which are free and can be kept in your wallet, in your pocket, in …your other books. But mostly, they need to be read.

This new collection contains seven small books: Unspoken by Clark Allison, really there by John Martone, Fresh Roses by Sheila E. Murphy, ‘my name means the shape I am’ by Patricia Farrell, An enjoyable night was had by all by Mischa Foster Poole, Prayerbook for Trees by Anna Cathenka and EXITUS by Maria Stadnicka.

The books have been edited and designed by the poet and artist Rupert M. Loydell and published by Smallminded Books.

I salute this brilliant initiative with great joy and excitement and I am offering ten free copies of EXITUS, as a gift, to celebrate our beautiful language. To celebrate this project, the imagination, the playfulness and the creative energy which comes with poetry.

If you would like your free copy, please email me at mariastadnicka@yahoo.co.uk.