Night in the gutted house, and other poems

© Sonya Di Sclafani, courtesy of the artist


Cerulean, stamen-like brushstrokes

wet on wet blending the colours

create three shades of blue

not to paint anything ugly or dark

uggely, uglike, from Old Norse uggligr‎

a love song within the frame

using a palette knife to anchor

acrylic on gessoed canvas self-effacing and ephemeral

inanimate synthetic abundance

as if we’re harrowed by time

placing the spectator within the painting

and you are not the sun, the tree,

the tiny blue flower.

© Vasily Ledovsky via Unsplash

night in the gutted house

in the gutted house i am folding the laundry. i walk through the brick walls, i don’t live here, but here i am. it all feels calm. the dining room with the chandelier that sways. its crystals eerily tinkling. ghosts roam the hallway. i can see white geese flying into the room. the stone chimney dismantled. now they are nesting on the leather couch. i can see wedding dresses floating on the ceiling. long white silk taffeta with pearls. lace veils. i can’t see i reduce my palette to monochrome colours. scaffolding supports are built. the floorboards have rotted. i sit alone in this house. the piano that starts to play a song. a child in shorts and blue top. the easel still stands by the window. gesso, cotton canvas, a pine table. a bahut with acrylics and brushes.


it is a simple piece, not nude, naked. before continuing

my journey. surreal watercolour blue. printmaking. aquatint

on etched copper plate emerging in these spaces. paper

everywhere. a tray of chemicals, running water, the

timer. stupida, my father calls me.

Camellia japonica Mt. Nishigatake © Tambasasayama via Wikimedia Commons

The Antarctic Polar Desert

Where a mummified seal

anaerobic bacteria within rocks

the wild katabatic winds

there are sand dunes

liverworts, hornworts and mosses

mountain tops, nunataks

emerald-green algae

environment that of Mars

we open our tent doors

months on sledges

the perma-frost thawing

Onyx river fed by melt

climate change parable

the silence from man.

Ilona Martonfi is a poet, editor, literary curator and activist. Her latest poetry titles are Salt Bride (Inanna, 2019) and The Tempest (Inanna, 2022). To follow her work, please visit her Facebook page.