Borderlands and other poems




Under a cobalt blue sky

a field of stones unstitched
it is an old, old sound
trekking north
scavenger vultures. Grey coyote.
Cholla cactus, saguaro
standing high behind the stage
illegal migrants

houses built of adobe
corrugated tin roofs
made a note

ochre hills and arroyos
four unrhymed quatrains

oracle for our times

eighteen-foot rusty steel fences
trekking north
a new poetic photo book
are edges lost?
Crossing the Sonoran Desert
one unbroken waste, mesquite
ironwood trees,
rattlesnakes, tarantula, scorpions

a page or half a page.

White wooden crosses.



Wretched Strangers

Paperless migrants
class of non-citizens
trying to cross into UK
stowaways on Chunnel trains

seeking asylum rights

at Nord-Pas-de-Calais
scabrous echo chambers
peel back into wars
dangerous sea crossings
loops of razor wire fences

minors, families
squatters at a landfill site
forest shanty town.
Serving one hot meal
formless queues
bordering a motorway
cafés, small grocery stores
wooden huts, tarp tents
makeshift mosques

cold water taps, cell phones.
Do you spend the days with them?

Autumn rains
barren scrublands
shapes of home

stuck into pages.



Dog Roses

Found portraits, maimed and rebuilt. Cyanotypes. Plum black shadows. Toned with oolong tea. Dot and circle. Gravel cul-de-sac.

Dailiness of the 1950s, filled with scrapbooks, birthday cakes and the etiquette of hats and gloves. Posting collage poetry, saddle shoes, crinolines. Rock’n’roll hits on the radio. “Blueberry Hill” belongs to which room of the repossessed house. A single, unknowable thing. A mother and a father, five children. Father’s whisky. War paranoia. Grandmother Mariska’s töltött káposzta, cabbage rolls. Poppy seed beigli. Reach towards longing. Other times, it is a process of looking: milkweed, ladybug, scent of blue pine. Out of focus. Sainte-Thérèse-De Blainville. Laurentides foothills. Sound at this hour. Wait for dawn. Turquoise. Shapeless taupe. Mille Îles River marshes. Mudflats.

where the dog rose blooms
dance of long-legged grey cranes
muttering, whuffling



Ilona Martonfi is the author of three poetry books, Blue Poppy, Black Grass and The Snow Kimono, and artistic director for The Yellow Door and the Visual Arts Centre readings.