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We have been living in the days of unusual quietness. Lockdown has lent us the time for reading, talking, jogging, and even writing poetry.

My Polish friend, Zdzislaw Malkiński lived in Co Down for 12 years. When he had chosen Ballynahinch for his new home, little did he know that the surrounding Mourne Mountans would make him a poet and one of the best marathon runners in his age group winning numerous trophies for Orangegrove AC Belfast. Training daily on the hiking trails, he discovered the magic beauty of Narnia and the wonderfully scenic coastal line of the Irish Sea, the natural wonders of which echo in his (Irish) poems published at home in Poland.

Zdzislaw Malkiński
Zdzislaw Malkiński

April, May, and June of this year, Zdzislaw spent in his time on his wicker chair on the balcony of his house in Poland. He kept himself occupied by sending emails and writing what he described half-jokingly as the “Corona- balcony poems”. He had intended to get into shape for the half marathon in Las Palmas, but the lockdown had thwarted all his ambitious plans. To maintain sanity in these insane times, he threw his gauntlets to anyone with a poetic soul to do the same.

The poems below need some explanation as he posted them to me with a handful of his thoughts on past pandemics: “The generation of our parents and grandparents” – he writes: “experienced mass killings, starvation and diseases during the World War 2. Our grand grandfathers were butchered in the tranches of the First World War and, poignantly, those who had survived the war were decimated by the outbreak of the Spanish flu in Ireland and Great Britain. At the same time in Eastern Europe, dysentery and typhus mowed down 200 thousand Polish people between 1918-1920.

I personally take Covid19 very seriously. The high mortality rate at my age is scary and it does not matter for me whether I have got any underlying health condition. Luckily, I do not. I am very fit for my age group, but I hate knowing how menacing and deadly Covid19 can be. I hate the thought that it may attack me or anyone so treacherously and so brutally that it can end our life. I had planned to run half marathon in Las Palmas early this year, but it has been rescheduled for November 2020. In April, I had stopped training for it and only recently have I started running 5-10 miles a day.

The strangest thing is that we in Europe have long thought all deadly pandemics as a thing of the past: dead and buried deep together with all the fears of contagious diseases which our grandparents feared so much. This is probably the reason why It is difficult for us to accept that what had haunted and killed past generations is awaken and is mercilessly haunting us again”

Poetry by Zdzislaw Malkiński

Na balkonie

Myślą przebiegam
Po wertepach życia
Bo bardziej zapadły
W pamięci
I smak ich czuję
W głosach ptaków

Bo ludzi nie ma

To wina słońca...
...tak dzisiaj praży
Jakby zasnęło
Na mojej twarzy
Kiedyś beztrosko
Grzało na polu
Leśnej polanie
I łące

Dzisiaj mnie grzeje
Na balkonie
Bo jestem właśnie
Na kwarantannie

Pandemia Coronavirus Pandemic
Pojawiłem się i sprawdzam
Gatunek ludzk
W trakcie ewolucji 
I paradoksalnie
Z moich doświadczeń wynika

Że w ludzkości odporność zanika

I widzę
Jak ten gatunek
Staje się bardziej nieludzki
Więc pytanie mam zasadnicze
Czy Ziemia się wyleczy

Z tej ludzkiej pandemii?

On the balcony

I run my thoughts
through the rocky pathways of my life
for they sank deep
in my memory
Their taste
I recall
in the birds’ voices

for people around
are no more

This is the fault
of the Sun…
 …that’s scorching
as if it fell asleep
on my face
Once It shone
in the field,
 in the forest clearing
on the meadow

Today the Sun warms me
 in Lockdown
on the balcony
of my house

Coronavirus Pandemic
I’ve appeared and
started checking
the human species
in the process of evolution
And paradoxically,
from my experience
It appears
human immunity

I see
how this species has been turning
Hence my question,
 fundemental as it is:
will the Earth heal itself
from this human pandemic?

Homo Sapiens

Byłem z siebie dumny
Od kołyski do trumny
Piszę w czasie przeszłym
Bo już mnie nie ma
Od miliona lat
Kiedy oglądałem
Ostatni słońca ślad

Świat – jak myślałem -
- zachował swój kształt
Lecz nowy się rozwinął

Rodzaj ludzki
Z Małp
Homo Sapiens

 I was proud of myself
from cradle to grave
I am writing this
in the past tense,
for I’ve been gone
for a million years now
since I saw
the last sight of the Sun

The world – as I expected -
has preserved its form
 though New Mankind

From Apes

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