Poetry Blog by John E Marks
Tags from last 12 months
Near is very far
A black hole for
A wandering soul.
There’s a vastness that appals
Of the Christie, this Monday morning
Meeting Emile, yes, named after Jean Jacque’s eponymous hero.
Married at the weekend, it has spread,
He fears he’ll soon be dead.
His Caribbean lilt
Saturday 22nd February 2020 11:08 pm
Lorca’s blood wedding bleeding
Reminds me of nothing more than the toil, toil, toil
Of life in Al-Andalus.
Priests chanting their rosary
Like it was El Maleh Rachamim
Or the Mourner’s Kaddish (which it probably was, if the priest
Was a Jewish Converso, who changed his religion
To save his life or, maybe, the life of his children). The Moriscos (ex-Muslim Moors), as us...
Saturday 22nd February 2020 12:29 am
She still walks beside me
Tall, stooped, a quintessentially English presence.
I listen again to how those flat Fenland vowels
Swirled into melodies melded with the staccato RP of Cambridge.
We knew so many minor key explorations of sadness;
Pulling at the scabs of loneliness and regret.
Yet you beget songs made plangent
By the melancholic timbre of your voice.
Your abiding mood was irre...
Friday 21st February 2020 10:15 pm
Antonio Salieri, a man of less than monkish virtue, and of very little talent,
Falsely promised the deliverance of Jerusalem from infidel rule,
This was a lie. All his music was packed full of lies and thefts.
At the age of 35 Amadeus Mozart fell ill. Mozart was prodigious producing:
Opera buffa such as Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte
Opera seria such as Idomeneo and Die Zauber...
Friday 21st February 2020 9:55 pm
The marvellous Lidos of London
Nowhere better to live that summer
So many bodies lifted into the sense
Of immortality, of continuance, except
My black gay friend who nearly
Ended it all in a council house. I turned
Off the gas and he managed to last
Long enough to play drums at Wembley
Stadium on a certain day. We once
Drove up to Harrow-on-the-hill
He felt ill when ...
Wednesday 19th February 2020 11:29 pm
I remember falling as a child
And being lifted by a fairy-wild
She kissed my cheek and mussed my hair,
And then she wasn’t there.
Some blind folk see the fairies clear
For faeries are always close or near.
Oh, better far than what we see
Are fairy wings that brush our faces
Like spiders’ webs or shimmering laces.
Such magical, lovely, lonely things
A rustle in the wind remi...
Wednesday 19th February 2020 10:10 pm
Treading through the dark Sargosso sea
A freezing mist in the air, a winter sway,
Celtic, crossed and re-crossed, we're on our way.
A watery Calvary stares into our blemished air
And you cannot, ever, ever, be there.
Today we dead coagulate - we are not where you think we are -
We thicken into consciousness. Our dying words still taken at the fall
Rampant, they are on our cracked lips, no...
Wednesday 19th February 2020 9:55 pm
"Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home. History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” James Joyce, Ulysses
All that we expected
All epics and rhapsodies
The hour of our birth
The hour of our death.
Icicles, stalagmites and stala...
Wednesday 19th February 2020 9:26 pm
My love didn’t come from nowhere.
My father was a bastard, a sailor on the seas,
My mother just a peasant
Spent her life upon her knees.
The noblesse oblige,
The drinking and the drugs,
Were countered by Intelligence
And a tingling in the blood.
We were the late Romans
Much diminished and now, finally, gone.
For since the death-stroke of 1453,
When we heard ...
Wednesday 19th February 2020 12:51 pm
around the rusty rims
in the old canal,
Monday 17th February 2020 8:03 pm
The glass bead game had its part to play,
On that formless holiday,
And chemotherapy and surgery,
And a walk across a Lancaster field one day
When I was young and broken.
A skylark rose so fast I froze
looking! looking! on my toes
catch the song flying away.
A stuttering of a past
that does not last
within a rhyming chiming mind
O! that charming man, I ...
Sunday 16th February 2020 7:48 pm
Two tunes weaved into one
The first a musical mingling
The other psychiatry
a loss of awareness of one's identity,
Paralysis, hysteria, epilepsy.
cobbled streets and smoke
these long grey days of August
at heart my orthodox soul grieves
amidst these long echoes of despair
all the bodies buried there
our sons taken
Sunday 16th February 2020 12:53 pm
two menorahs loosen
and restore the past
here in my head
a dark star's velvet scream
is heard but
leave the poor
as they were before
footsteps in the snow
another wandering Jew
they perform another round-up,
and a seemingly innocent Jew,
Paul Leon, you, j...
Saturday 15th February 2020 6:28 pm
It was an ordinary, wet north Manchester night
Of solid rain, unremittingly wet and cold.
When, suddenly, all the rivers, in all the world, stopped flowing
And all the summer colours leached away and never returned
And the wind it got so cold and stings like hell
And then the sky descends into the air.....
And you're not there.
The blackness is deep, deep and remains...
Saturday 15th February 2020 12:14 am
."Remembering death, I know the life of the world as it is now is not living, it is a bad process of dying. And what we must live for is a new world of life. It doesn't matter when we die, so long as we live fulfilling the deepest desire that is in us. And a life which is a denial of the deepest desire is much worse than any death, it is a sheer lie." DH LAWRENCE
I have drunk a lot of whis...
Friday 14th February 2020 10:07 pm
Translating the Slavic psyche is not easy, let's strip down the layers
The hiding from barbarian Ottomites, Austro-Hungarians and Germans
For centuries, Czars and Serfs at each others' throats.
There was a Russisn actor who hid himself away- very well - but he disappeared, into a cherry orchard.
Every body is dressed in a black haze reflected against the snow:walking graves.
Thursday 13th February 2020 10:42 pm
Before, I loved the rainy mornings of my life
And I never thought that friendly mountain passes
Would ferry me away
But now happy times are seldom
And the rain runs away with me.
From holiday beach to temptestous sea
The thunder clouds gather like swarms of angry bees
I have lost my faith in the indomitable sea.
And I have lost my faith in humanity
I sing only one...
Thursday 13th February 2020 10:42 am
All that is, is not,
Numbed into meaning:
In a city without sleep,
They die in the sky
Whilst counting sheep.
Moon people kiss,
Not like normal people do,
I dreamt a dream with a broken heart
And the dream is of you.
St Stephen with a rose
In and out of the garden he goes
Country garden in the ...
Wednesday 12th February 2020 9:59 pm
Catholic priest crucified
On Good Friday in Mosul,
Children blown to bits
In Lahore's Shalimar Gardens,
A piece of pink Heaven on this bloodyearth.
Built by the Mughals to celebrate God
In marbled, mosaic mosques:
It celebrated the Hindus and the Buddhists,
The Sufi saints who'd moved into the future
Keeping their close hold onto the past.
It celebrated the Chri...
Tuesday 11th February 2020 11:07 pm
I do not drink,
But I am living under this mountain
That might crush the life out of me
Any time, any day,
So, I drink anyway.
Too much grandiosity
Dims the soul
Makes us old.
I hear the wise ones pleading, pleading when on fire,
So much screaming, as the flames they get higher:
Hebane, belladonna, mandrake, datura
All of these, like mescaline, can see right throug...
Monday 10th February 2020 9:58 pm
As the wind blows ever faster,
And the temperature drops,
– I am recalled
To my dialogue with the dead.
My grandfather, Jack, had his
Last pint of bitter in this pub
I am sitting in before
Embarking for France in 1914,
And his first one back in November 1918.
2020 Jack - alive in my heart - always loved, never seen -
Not a line of his writing have I, not a wisp of his...
Monday 10th February 2020 8:51 am
On this beautiful spring day in February
With delphinium-blue skies and cheeky
Crocuses splashing purple and dazzling
Daffs nodding in agreement, on this mild Aprilesque
Zephyr of a breeze. Then folk do long to go on pilgrimage,
My pilgrimages are to interior parts
Where I seek relics of a past that cannot last
I imagine that if a poet, who I have in mind,
Were given one m...
Saturday 8th February 2020 11:15 pm
Desires, memories, fears, so many tears,
I only know that here is the murmur of the waves,
And the spindly branches tremble on the trees
The morning light is thin, flimsy,
The vagaries of auguries are spread out
Like a blanket over the antique branches
Of oak trees and the birds sing
to the rising in the East, of the sun, which is magical;
This is a birth day, a death day, ...
Saturday 8th February 2020 9:50 pm
Some muttered words on a windy night
Make me listen closely to her heart-beat.
Words can decline into cant – quick, flippant, arrogant
Listen! to the Gregorian chants of the monks: singing across the centuries.
In silence, I admire the stonemason’s art, their way of seeing things,
Frozen in time, giving form to a vision of God-knows-what,
A palimpsest of languages: Latin, Norman...
Saturday 8th February 2020 9:30 pm
I struggle every day to remain well,
It's an obstacle course, of sorts,
Yesterday, I was ko'd, knocked out,
But before the count of 10 I was
Up again, fighting to recover my balance, my poise.
On my toes
I rose to the challenge.
Today, I Am fasting, the best detox I know,
Hoping I will recover, in time
To watch a film, have a meal,
Get up from my bed. Be well.
Friday 7th February 2020 12:10 am
Fluid the medium by which we desire,
Heavy the limits from which we aspire
To lift ourselves free on the wings of a dove
To practise perfection by drinking his blood.
The illusion of earth is splintering fast
We grab at the air, as we fall at the last:
Witchery, Witan, Wicca and Wizard
Pursuing the furies is why we are feared.
Opening spaces and stretching out time
In a ...
Tuesday 4th February 2020 11:12 pm
On March 15th 20118, I was two days away from the delirium of sepsis and I wrote this.
“In the name of Annah the Allmaziful, the Everliving, the Bringer of Plurabilities, haloed be her eve, her singtime sung, her rill be run, unhemmed as it is uneven!”
― James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
catching my death
is an English melody
travelling from heat to freezing cold
culture, religion, ...
Tuesday 4th February 2020 10:34 pm
Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev was a Soviet sniper during World War II. Between 10 November 1942 and 17 December 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, he killed 225 enemy soldiers, including 11 SS snipers
Who controls the past controls the future:
An anonymous red army soldier,
With a slightly Asiatic glint to his eye,
Like Vasily, at the gates of Auschwitz,
Said 'This was why we...
Monday 3rd February 2020 10:08 pm
I know a woman happily demented
She scatters petals as she sleeps,
Sings the songs of the 1940s,
Thinks she is Bo-Peep.
When she worked in a cake shop
She was put to the test
She casts her mind back and lets it rest.
Passes the test of time. In rhyme.
Dresses her hair in a yellow head scarf
Says apropos of nothing but the truth
"The hyacinth will soon be out. I love...
Monday 3rd February 2020 12:01 pm
You are my moment, and my dream,
Great is my say in the passing of your day
The rules of aesthetics do not apply
You are only a beauty because you pout and lie
How secret you are; and true
As you crave me to be.
Stay unreachable, far away because
The dream of happiness is more than happiness.
Be garrulous, free with words and with youth;
Let your hair and your ec...
Saturday 1st February 2020 11:53 pm
The guttering rain of home
Stains the memory
Longer than churches
Is it duty to devotion
Or devotion to duty that keeps
Me standing in this field of ripe poppies?
At a loss. I don't know
How can we translate this chaos
The grammar of suffering
Lost in translation
Faith no longer floods my mind
My mind reminds me...
Saturday 1st February 2020 2:56 pm
Oh Lord, my God, I fell asleep,
No longer in a state of grace,
No longer a beautiful woman,
No longer a poet, beloved by the Emperor,
I am a harlot, like Mary Magdalene,
A sister of the Christ - dazzled by the myrrh,
By an acre of sorcery,
Destroyed by a terrible moon
By the time of the month; by everything being too late, or too soon.
By the phases of the moon.
Give me you...
Friday 31st January 2020 11:52 pm
“Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again."
- Poem XL
― A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad
Ordinary life creates
Inside of me
Composed of God-knows-what:
Friday 31st January 2020 11:11 pm
On 21st December, 1873, Horace Moule was staying with his brother, Charles Moule. When he heard a strange noise in an adjoining room, Charles discovered that Horace had slashed his windpipe with a razor. He was covered in blood but conscious and was able to utter his last words "Easy to die. Love to my mother."
Written two days before sepsis
The sting of the wind
On this cold spring day
Wednesday 29th January 2020 10:38 pm
If I send you an emoji
Will you know exactly
How I feel?
Will you truly know
That love is real?
Or, if I send you
A coffin-shaped nail
Will you wail and gnash
Will you experience
A kind of grief?
Or, truly, truly,
Will you not
Give a flying toss?
Loss, in all its peculiar manifestations,
Unites people of all races, classes and denominations...
Wednesday 29th January 2020 9:23 pm
Sitting in an old, damp boozer
Brasses polished, leathers gleam,
Wood, dark mahogany, glows.
In the dark daylight lamplight
Watch how the snow flakes tumble
Drift out of a heavy sky
Nature's green, and man's concrete grey,
Covered for the day, evolving into this whiter
Shade of pale.
Yes, a pint of porter's yer only man,
Nobody dares to disturb
This chapel of rest
Except when one of ...
Tuesday 28th January 2020 2:31 pm
Missing the wildness of my younger self
I degenerate into words. Waiting, between
sentences, for the muse to catch up with me,
I fulminate, flash like lightning, explode
So that I catch myself thinking this
Is all an act to compensate for the time
Brian climbed that tree before disappearing
To Japan, for all eternity. I wish Haiku was true.
An apple blossom flash of inspiration
Tuesday 28th January 2020 8:56 am
Writ in water
Or writ in air.
Or writ-in-times past.
The test of time:
As life and air
So lines writ-in-wine
Begin their stay;
Will fade away.
Tuesday 28th January 2020 1:03 am
“Without music, life would be a mistake” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
A waterfall of notes, rising and falling,
Splashing into mind, heart, soul.
Music will never grow old.
Arpeggio series of broken chords rising descending
Into and out of order. Plunging into minor keys, rising into waves of luminosity.
Notes that compose a chord are played or sung in a rising or des...
Sunday 26th January 2020 10:55 pm
A holiday is a holy day,
Words drift and sway away
From meaning to meaning.
Neologisms take root, blossom, die
Making metaphors into touts
Who turn words inside out
Perform semantic cartwheels and fly
Or shrink: "Nan had a gay old time on the sly"
Words and phrases, used and abused,
Ad Infinitum. Passing by.
Begin each sentence with "So... ...
Sunday 26th January 2020 1:26 am
The Scientific Enlightenment came at no small cost
Christianity took a thousand years to subdue
Now Islam is in the west, as fundamentalism is born anew
Imprisonment, blasphemy, books burnt, inquisition, internment, death.
Yet, the Secular-Spiritual-Sceptical-Scientific spirit survives
A new constant vigilance is the price we pay
As unreformed superstition seeks to re-establish a...
Friday 24th January 2020 10:28 pm
The multi-verse within:
I stumble into my usual discontent
A bout of sleep –
A fragment of the fourth dimension,
An echo of a dream –
Time, like the river Lethe,
Washes over me
Left I am here, bereft,
To float upon this river of unmindfulness
Towards the golden dome
Which glows with ...
Friday 24th January 2020 10:07 pm
The spirit of prophecy guided me to this spring of living water
Where all living things are made a-new: son, daughter
Neither shall there be mourning, all tears washed away
Live with the full force of a Jesuit priest today.
Pass through the door that can never be locked
Don't whine like a man who knows he's out of time.
Casuistry and sophistry work together
To blind men: in r...
Thursday 23rd January 2020 11:53 pm
When my eyes are full of tears
And I cannot cry.
When I think I've conquered my fears
But I can only sigh.
When I rise to the occasion,
And hold myself together,
In rain or shine or stormy weather,
And my heart beats fast,
And faster still,
As if I'm running up the steepest-steepest hill.
Then the memories tumble out,
And stop me dead,
And I cry, at last,
Tuesday 21st January 2020 11:59 pm
O! daughter dear, on this mid-western afternoon,
When I can see all the way to Sacremento, I cry
For you, Ariel-blue, in all your golden-girlhood
Too lovely for a life of pettiness and sin were you
You caught a boat to England, never returned.
My heart burns for an extraordinary Jew like you,
Beautifully clever Ariel-blue. And, maybe I didn’t talk
To you like I yearned and wa...
Tuesday 21st January 2020 11:22 pm
Exhausted and betrayed in the frosty air of this desolate day
I am dried up, shrivelled, exposed, weather-beaten.
This wasting away of the body afflicts me with decay.
The hey-ho day of the day-to-day fades away.
Forever. Friends desert me quite.
What was, is rubbed away, out of sight.
Wither, languish, and decay: time pines away.
In this quagmire-swamp of guilt, regret, spilt...
Tuesday 21st January 2020 5:19 am
Passing whiter shades of pale, pretty traces of lace,
Reveal the opal-sluminosity of these late Romans,
Indigo-dreams red with gore on this bloody May day
Negating their quiet absorption into the timeless
Creation of Constantinople’s drift and swell,
Elysium’s perfumed garden of lucidity bust open
By Mehmed’s desecration, on his sweltering road to hell.
Sunday 19th January 2020 8:39 pm
A raggedy thin cotton dress
Torn. On the little girl playing
On this freezing December day.
Was she torn from her mama or given away
She's left by her friends
And deserted by her dad
And neglected by those who pretend to care.
Little Ellie is sad and hungry
The priest says ‘she’s going-on bad’.
Her school calls the doctor,
And the doctor calls the nurse,
Torn this and that way,
Saturday 18th January 2020 11:39 pm
Walking over O’Connell bridge in central Dublin
On this freezing morning. Body hunched, coat pulled
Tight. Hearing the cries of seagulls, or is it the hawkers
In Henry Street? Over in Blackrock, Éamon de Valera,
Has begun to die. The sky is heavy with snow
As in Joyce’s The Dead. I walk to Bewleys
In Grafton Street, dispense with my fluttering
Of snow as I take off my overcoat...
Saturday 18th January 2020 10:48 pm
Tender is the Night
And all her forgotten beauty
People pass out of sight
On this August midnight
When the serpent and the saviour sit
Somewhere in old-England.
No truths are hidden from our lady moon
No disguising her faint silvery tune.
Such wide-open rosy faces, face the blackest of skies,
Gnarled hands shade their frightened eyes,
Friday 17th January 2020 10:54 pm