Poems by Ilona Martonfi


Some days I’ve caught the universe 

living smaller lives 
nourished by the breath 
giving a low hoarse croak

I’ve been alone here, 

heard the sound of flapping egret wings 
in slow flight low over brackish wetlands
was not part of a system 
was the answer that to

think that it was a breeding plumage
bright green facial skin, yellow bill 
informing the lyrics, the night, 

done it all my life. Joining the dots
we cared. We’ve swapped roles
renovated aphoristic storytelling 

threading carcinogenic city streets

feeling rage, an impulse to howl

dragonflies and damselflies, whirligig beetles, 
waiting motionless for prey, 
stalking their victim

habitats for migration stopover sites 
but what truth would they be masking? 
Cut off mid-sentence

dark, windowless.

Is it posthumous? Dazed and irradiated

white is an absolute silence. List of names. All
names taken from tombstones.

Dancing under azure light of summertime.


I am fond of deer dung
sprouting fungus
to catch a female’s attention
I sing up the land
rainforests of Papua:
took years to build
completely roofed over
dead twigs
rose purple, carmine, claret
pieces of sea shell
scarlet, orange
what’s in it for me?
Eucalyptus leaves
vermillion feathers
laced lichen
magenta sun 
red moon
carpet of moss
plainest of the family
olive brown, polygynous 
black stems of tree ferns
beetle wings, orchids
properly arranged
do my courtship:
she, a single mother
lays her eggs
while I try to impress 
another lass.

ILONA MARTONFI is the author of four poetry books, Blue Poppy, Black Grass, The Snow Kimono and Salt Bride. Her work has published in numerous journals across North America and abroad. Five chapbooks, Visiting the Ridge, Charivari, Magda, Adagio and Mud. Her poem “Dachau on a Rainy Day” was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. Artistic director of Visual Arts Centre Reading Series and Argo Bookshop Reading Series. QWF 2010 Community Award.