Maria Stadnicka

Mozart in Nairobi

On Wednesday afternoon, an imminent life lesson
ends at three o’clock
with a Mozart concerto, live broadcast
from our detention centre.

The outer heavy traffic,
the rain washing the rooftops across Nairobi
penetrate the walls –
a sharp, urgent, high-pitched cry.

Across the border, the ants come to light,
through a crack in the wood.

A perfect day for unattended prayers.



The fires of Europe bring a call to silence.
Upon us, a call to wipe clean
the arrogance of a continent turned to ashes.

I am taking shelter in a dead city
as tall as the burning building cranes
and black and white children stare,
in waiting, at green lights.

At a crossing, between cyanide waters,
the passengers crammed elbow to elbow
collect old postage stamps.

It is the morning of doubt.
I prepared for this all my life,
with a blunt nib.


Acts of Survival

Before the execution date,
each night,
lands I have never seen come to visit
this self-contained universe.
The only place for waiting, for submitting,
the place where god decided
it was the moment to shoot itself.
This captivity has become an act of survival,
for an industrious nation of slaves.
Here, the immediate!
The fear behind the hate sounds louder and louder
in each city where cathedrals
are now for sale
on detergent coupons.

A man is lost at sea, I hear,
total strangers marching East
minutes before the water-ropes bring the closure.

Here and now, my enemy,
the blood inside all my cavities has become
the last supper
for I,
chiselled, strapped, nailed to my crimes,
had confessed: ECCE HOMO!

My nation, my never-never land!

If we have been at war for thousands of years,
catching bullets today,
in these meat-eating times,
it is the pain which, finally, will set us free,
not words.
The silent joy of those who know
how very few will make it through the
death sentence.




Another midnight storm washes away the cold poetry
born at the top floor.
I balance my whole weight
on long words;
frozen stones on my tongue.

I count the mistakes god has done with me,
just to pass the time.

The violent rain hid a blind dog
inside my very bone.
Here, upstairs, both of us in the same body,
awake and hungry,




Maria Stadnicka is poet, journalist and lecturer, based in Gloucestershire.  Her work (and subsequently her next poetry collection) is currently focused on her experience as a child during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster as well as the surreal contemporary political context in Britain and in Europe.