November 10, 2014 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION




Ilona Martonfi



The boy from Lidice



My ashes lie buried in Chelmno

by the Ner River in Poland —

birch, oak, grey alder, and elm:

the Rzuchow Forest.


Farm animals in Old Lidice,

I would dream of mama in a long dress.

I am eight-years-old

that summer 1942 —

we are taken first to the grammar school

sleep on the floor covered with a coat

allowed to write a postcard home:

“Drahá máma, send clean clothes,

a loaf of bread, apricot-filled knedlíky.

Your son, Vaclav”


That summer day 1942 —

a few hours after midnight,

ten Nazi Wehrmacht trucks

arrive from Slaný.

Gothic church, stone houses:

population five hundred.

Lidice farm village begins to burn

on the road to Hestoun,


the men shot in Horák orchard —


women and children deported.


Reprisal for the assassination

of Heydrich, SS “Butcher of Prague.”


Black and white silent film.









Kent Street



On a cold winter’s night


I visit the Kent Street apartment

in Côte-des-Neiges, a run-down, dark 3 ½

lonely world filed down

it is home, this smelly place:

after one month staying at a women’s shelter.

My eldest daughter, ill,


on social welfare.

How did I lose you?


Gutted carton pizza box.

Everywhere dirty dishes.

Semi-basement furnished:

chrome chair, rickety table, corduroy sofa —

bottle-green frame of a curtainless window.

Besides me there’s you, Daughter.

Undiagnosed lung sarcoidosis. Anxiety disorder.

Before your breakdown, you owned a house and a garden.

Married, three young children.

Two daughters five, three. Son, five-months old.

Your new life is “lazy and slow.”

Estranged from family.


Youth court declaring:

Unfit mother!

Sole custody to father.

Supervised visitation.







Ilona Martonfi

Ilona Martonfi Author of two poetry books, Blue Poppy, (Coracle Press, 2009.)Black Grass, (Broken Rules Press, 2012). Published in chapbooks, anthologies and magazines. Among them, Vallum, Tuck, Accenti, The Fiddlehead, Serai.Founder/producer of The Yellow Door and Visual Arts Centre Readings, co-founder of Lovers and Others. QWF 2010 Community Award.






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