Dust Borealis

 

 

Driving home from the airport I notice

my old school flatten down in the city centre.

 

No traffic. People indoors, folding hours

in cupboards, in boxes without keys.

 

A land of graves reflected upside down

in each blind spot. Letters pinned

 

to a blazer, white socks mother mended

at night, trace the playground where

 

children abandoned a beachball.

The wideness of urban carparks

 

risen from ashes, dust borealis

glows above the steering wheel.

 

© Maria Stadnicka, July 2020

Research Sample #4731

Photograph © Saul Leiter

 

Dreamed we were eating

pasta with mud and no-one

complained that earth lacked

seasoning. Yes, thank you,

since you ask, I will have

another portion of this.

At present it makes life

bearable.

 

© Maria Stadnicka, June 2020

Overture

Photo: © JStadnicki, June 2020

Curtains go up on a scene

whose rear walls are shaking;

stagehands clear the background.

Spotlights on at the cast’s entrance.

 

I am your memory, he says,

and the back rows answer

with cheers and whistles. Heat

rises from our seats to the LEDs’

green flicker on the ceiling.

 

Breath-monologue, breath-monologue:

the script unravels, lines break

interrupted by adverts for bleach,

toothpaste, locally sourced colours.

 

The show flows until the speed

of a camera flash sets off a fire alarm.

Curtains down for emergency exit.

 

We push against tar-water dams,

open floodgates then move

to the front seats for a better view.

The theatre holds the roof up.

 

Every moment of terror begins like this.

It matches our lives so well,

It is us performing onstage.

 

© Maria Stadnicka, June 2020

Gallery

Black Talks

© Maria Stadnicka, June 2020


Photography: © John Stadnicki

Fruit Season

Gloucestershire, Midlands, UK / May 2020

I figure out that if you live by water and feel hungry, it takes an afternoon of chewing yesterday’s leftovers to feel mud on your tongue. And if a passer-by gives you a bad apple, you ought to be thankful, appreciate what you’ve got, watching others dying of starvation. But when you hear that the well-wisher was God, which happened to be running late for a meeting in the nearby mansion, you wish you had spat the rotting fruit back at Him. God could have done better. By then it is too late. The meeting He was rushing to would be running on and on for years. For as long as your lifetime.

© Maria Stadnicka, May 2020

Urban Afterlife / Week #9 Midlands in Lockdown / United Kingdom

 


Photography: © John Stadnicki, May 2020

Rite of Lockdown / Week #7 / Midlands / United Kingdom

 

Rite

 

Sunday lingers on scent of paint,

tobacco and spring. Our kitchen-war

sprouts from a conversation on books

about people we both know. I say

 

I’d met doctor Zhivago queuing

at Nero’s, heard him asking a barista

about the fate of taiga-trees

at the height of a mining season.

 

You think they are cut short then stop

growing. I lock my paperbacks

in a cupboard; they remind us

of all the ink twisted in verse, seeded

 

in layers of gravel. Our verbs reach

the pit of a quarry, and seal over.

Snow forests shoot up in tears,

we trip over extension cables in our flat.

 

© Maria Stadnicka, May 2020


Photography: © John Stadnicki 2020

Geometry

 

 

Nietzsche insists that a person must
find at least one truth before a good
night sleep. A terrible prospect
considering how facts come about,
with their own sets of variables.

wind force,
speed in metres per second,
momentum at impact with a surface,
temperature
and friction between molecules

Ninety-degree angles do not exist
in real life. Until now we have been tricked
by scientists into believing in verticality.
Meanwhile they build a simplified version
of the world, a dummy manual, if you like,
for funding purposes.

 

© Maria Stadnicka 2020

Published in ‘International Times’ on 29 Feb 2020.

Rite

Sunday lingers on scent of paint,
tobacco and spring. Our kitchen-war
sprouts from a conversation on books
about people we both know. I say

I’d met doctor Zhivago queuing
at Nero’s, heard him asking a barista
about the fate of taiga-trees
at the height of a mining season.

You think they are cut short then stop
growing. I lock my paperbacks
in a cupboard; they remind us
of all the ink twisted in verse, seeded

in layers of gravel. Our verbs reach
the pit of a quarry and seal over.
Snow forests shoot up in tears,
we trip over cables in our flat.

 

© Maria Stadnicka 2020

Published in ‘Stride Magazine’on 26 Feb 2020.

 

Short Summary of Strategic Combat

Illustration © Claire Palmer 2020

after Kasparov vs Karpov, 1986

 

The playground is open, with white to move.

D4 F6. A few pawn boys make a safety zone

out by the swings, waiting for Father to fall for the ruse.

 

C4 G6. Everyone calls the queen Sis’ Loretta

when she jumps over the Treatment Room’s steps

to the battlefield. The fifth move: Q to B3.

 

By the eleventh round, the game enters

a phase of hand-to-hand combat. Father attacks,

we defend on each side. Sister gets hurt,

 

two pawn boys, sacrificed, but nobody castles.

Our fight, bishop to rook. Checked on the playground

as the last knight falls at the match point.

 

Most pieces are gone on both front lines. Thirty-one

moves. Checkmate. From the opposing team,

Father says we are playing a game bigger than us.

 

© Maria Stadnicka 2020


Published in ‘International Times’ on 8th February 2020.