Ales Machacek,1946, born in Prague, studied engineering, sent to prison in 1977 for three and half years for subversion of the state. Emigrated to London in 1985. Jane Kirwan met Ales first in 1989, moved with him to Prague in 2000. Two poetry collections Stealing The Eiffel Tower (1997) and The Man Who Sold Mirrors (2003), both published by Rockingham. Arts Council Writer’s Award 2002. In 2010, Rockingham published their joint prose/poetry collection Second Exile published as Druhy exil by Novela bohemica in the Czech Republic.
Detention cells haven’t enough room to sleep stretched out so I fold my legs beneath me, over the year becoming very flexible. The interrogations finish. There’s a delay while I wait for details of the prosecution; for weeks then months nothing happens. Some prisoner goes away, someone else comes in. Sometimes there are six of us in the same few square metres. Exercise is forbidden, to stand under the obscured strip of window is forbidden, to talk after time for sleeping is forbidden, to sleep with your hands under the blanket is forbidden, to sleep with your head covered is forbidden. All night the light’s kept on so that they can check us through the spy-hole.
Guilty of Subversion of the State I get three and half years. Being in court is the first chance to see my family. When I turn to take a look at my mother, a guard yanks me back by my handcuffs. My two small children are not allowed to come. I get time with Alena but we don’t feel like talking. The judge stays with us in the room and screams Stop that when we touch hands.