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Two Poems by Ilona Martonfi


The village's been here,

here where we're standing

by the Urdaibai estuary

inscribed in the sand of skulls

Octavio Vázquez's Piano trio no.1 "Gernika"

a violinist, the cellist

they play and there's

the church bell that rings

during the Spanish Civil War

it's market day, in the main square

where many people die

when the bombs start to fall

April 26,1937

a mural-sized oil painting

in black, grey, and white

matte monochrome

come see a horse, and a bull

come see

the wailing women,

the dead child.

Leonora Carrington's And Then We Saw the Daughter of the Minotaur


There were a cow-headed minotaura

a ghost dancing toward us.

The green moth-flower unfurling its leaf.

Magic realism and alchemy.

You and your pots of jam

boxes of black tea.

Pomegranate fruit.

There's no buttery, no Gothic hall,

no balls.


Crystal orbs that pull at the tablecloth

gateway to the chthonic dreams.

Past your house in Mexico City,

the melons stuffed with larks

past crushed sweet almonds,

past the jacaranda you planted

where surrealist artists in exile.


These white Xoloitzcuintles.

These dog voices.


This is

the asylum glass door

the asylum gurneys:

all those restrained with straps

all those locked wards

all orange blossom waters

and vomiting.

They say:

Tell me about yourself.

You say: My body parts lie on the floor.

Some say: Madness!

You say: The war.


There to the left, is a kitchen,

there the horned goddess.

Her small hands, her cloven hooves.

You want vermillion, earth colours.

Ilona Martonfi is an editor, poet, curator, and activist. Author of four poetry books, the most recent collection is Salt Bride (Inanna, 2019). Forthcoming, The Tempest (Inanna, 2022). Writes in journals, anthologies, and seven chapbooks. Curator Visual Arts Centre Reading Series and Argo Bookshop Reading Series. QWF 2010 Community Award.

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