Poetry Blog by John E Marks

Offensive verse

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Poems that do not rhyme often

Do not help themselves - considering -

Poems that deal with obscure sibjects

Such as by-gone times and dead people fail

To engage the attention of those who'd.

Choose to focus on supermarkets, special deals

Buying stuff online and being a very BIG part

Of a WhatsApp group that crosses generations

And sexual orientations. .

If you think you'r...

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He is but what he is, nobody cares;

Friends forget easily what he might

Have been. And all thought falls into

Tears. Dreams I had, come and go,

Leaving nothing but the faintest

Impress of my hair upon a pillow.

Shadows flit across the static air

And leave me resting here in mid-air.

My dreams remain the same from night

To day, scorning the nothingness of day-to-day


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A Romani Remembers.

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At the pomana - the death feast - I missed him

Some call us Gypsy, people without a home,

But  I am Romani and I live with a chavi, a chel,

A girl and we carry our home in our hearts

And we will never-ever part. My familia is my

World. The gorgers love greed, like pigs,

But without the dignity of a whole pig.

Dear heart I speak Polari to you. Gorgers

Love money and por...

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The red-gold glow

of stormy autumn

leafy-mist lights this late

October dawn recalling him,


to the design hidden in words,

which swirl like smoke

rising from a fire, from a pipe,

tended by an old man in a black suit

the front of which is bedecked with medals

time-ridden, he is missing, gone  missing in 1913;

this fleeting meeting with the present


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The flowers of the forest

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More than five rugby teams' worth, of men, every week, dead by their own hands, 

Young men mostly, three times as many men as women,

Nearly 6000 a year, 60,000 over a decade and....


Using the traditional routes to oblivion - hanging from a tree, opening the arteries, being free with the pills

A closed garage and exhaust fumes, jumping off high-rise flats, bridges, cheap thr...

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To the ghost-dancers of the Sioux

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Don’t let the fat white males into this land

They have no concept of stewardship

They think they can own the air and the land.

Watch them massacre the holy bison:

The white buffalo is dead

Their bodies rot under the sun.

These men have no respect for themselves:

They are rapists and child-killers. They spoil

All the Great Spirit has bequeathed us.

They are a scourge to t...

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A bride's beauty surpasses all

The love farmer can say

I said she was a human person

And that destiny is the fruit of love.

When the crowd gathered and saw her,
They cheered and sang songs.

When love is a glory and men

Shake hands

All bodes well.

There is no war.

We all have a country

And a heart beat of dreams

Music makes us cry out loud
And love is curtailed


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Poem for an anonymous Moorish Poet on the defeat at Seville November 1248

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We have eaten rats during this seige

The Goths want us acquiesce to Christian suzerainty.

They never tell us why we should do so

We have our music, poetry, wine, gardens and our beautiful women.

And beauty gives light like lamps to one travelling in the dark.

Makes one wake up, notice a sparkling jewel
A pearl from the deeps of a distant ocean

A rarity of dreams:

A passi...

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Kassia: A Bold and Beautiful Woman, a Byzantine Poet

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Κύριε, ἡ ἐν πολλαῖς ἁμαρτίαις περιπεσοῦσα γυνή,
τὴν σὴν αἰσθομένη θεότητα, 


Oh Lord, my God,  I fell asleep

No longer in a state of grace

No longer a beautiful woman

Beloved by the Emperor,

But a harlot, like Mary Magdalene,
A sister of the Christ

Dazzled by the myrrh,
By an acre of sorcery, by a terrible moon
By a time of the month.

Nothing is too soon.
Give me your t...

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The power to burst the bounds

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The snow and ice have melted long ago, already the grass returns to fields of

  gold.  So why am I still shivering? 

The seas and rivers change their courses, and  flow awry. So why am I turned to stone? 

Faeries and elves stir up their sisters into

  dance. So why cannot I move my legs today? 

Immortality seizes man's imagination. So can I  live another day? 

And why do I c...

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Endurance is a flower

A bulb in winter’s depth

A rare-repeated wonder:

A sin we must forget.

In this-world-of-my-creation

In this world-of-make-believe:

Cancer, the death of children,

Are falling autumn leaves.


I see a road before me

A  road I walk in vain

A road through Trawden, Lancashire

A road that's not the same.

All roads lead to heaven

And al...

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Curlews cry, an Aegean sky: a boat
lifts and falls.

The heat of noon, a lethargic
gloom, she's tracked with light this star-struck night.

Moon-shadows cast, it's cool at last, this sweep
and swell, this road to hell.

The ship's becalmed
with false alarms, this attic night of bone-white light:
no palimpsest, no Grecian zest.

A sapphic wind balloons the moon, fans the fog's

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Burnham Beeches with Anna, 1985

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the sadness of sundays
even amidst
the various
reds, yellows, browns and golds
of stormy autumn

and as I walk
I have in mind
the fragility of a veined

and who am I to resist
this child's
every imperative?


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the high fells are clear

out of it today

as I glance

down to the valley floor

your dress waves a wind-blown



I forget

which itch of memory did the damage

the high fells, your dress

this hot afternoon

but I lean on the Regent's park

for space


sleep and remember.

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from earth to earth, from air to air,

I fly

never at home



I spy

this ground

scored by the passing blocks of ice

an earth, torn from the permafrost,

this is where the old sun can sting me back

as I hear children laugh

in the rich meadowland

and this is where I can hear

fear calling its long retreat

and this is where

the very gods of earth ...

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The ghosts who buy memories settle on

The tones of the big bell settled in the dust

Of this small market town in County Meath

And, on the stained glass window, still

We see the sun-marked

Resonance of bell --

Circles of uninscribed sound


Through all the cerebral centuries

Chimes and chants for Christ the King

Chimes of crucifix, pyx and plate -

These bells ...

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Warmer than Blood

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At the end of time I will rise

Like today, go about my business,

Talk to children, smile sometimes.

The sky - the real sky - shall shelter

And storm the earth still.

Black soil shall breed many satans still

Azure clouds, from which no rain falls,

Shall mass on far-horizons threateningly.

Large drops of rain shall fall, freezing into ice,

Angels will lie about their where...

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A flick of her tail

Showed more uncluttered love

Than a lifetime's worth of  empty 'Hellos'.

As Aeschylus implied so-long ago

There is no type or condition

Of suffering or pain

Which is not made worse

By re-calling the good times

Times languorous,meandering puppy-walks,

Times of plunging in wild abandon

Into the freezing Irish sea.

Walter Scott suspected

That do...

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A lamentation upon the fall of Constantinople 29th May 1453


None of us will survive,

But we must try again,

To seed some fallow earth with the mysteries of the Byzantines

Even, with their mirth, amidst the agony of birth, and death,

The accidental revelations,

Of our passing on the wing,

A voice that will always sing

Of the fall of Constantinople:

Of the mysteries of birth and death,

And of all the unalloyed impermanence


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The Resurrection of the dead



 Suffering and desire
 Twist the unbidden tears:
 Pumping hearts, shaking hands
 Human life conducted in the dark
 The hidden fears
 The inconsolable grief
 Many fear-filled years.
 Craving for permanence
 For the enduring stillness
 Of the Sea of Galilee.
 But let's walk instead
 To the tomb of Maimonides:
 Oh! Why do the wicked prosper?
 Why oh! why do the ...

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A Revisitation...



The majesty of dogs impresses us –

Their solitary solidarity -

And above their grey horizons

There is a promise, lingering….


These days an ending is assumed,

That glorifies the story of our lives:

Making children, seeing things, and listening,

Listening, to our hearts’ desires.


Yesterday the sky darkened at noon

Seas spewed forth

Clouds of mi...

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This flinger of Plurabilly Teas

Twice upon a time

And a jolly hockey-sticks good time it was two

There was a goblin a-coming downa road

This goblin that was a-coming downa road

Pet a Mice-alittle boy named Daddy Buckoo.

Her mother sneaked him that story.

Her rather clucked at him:

Sin, sin, Jesuit-sin

Through a grass darkly

Fat, thin, fat, thin


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Because the Night....

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The New York Dolls with their wicked innovation

Gender on a bender, so no more hesitation.

Galileo, Newton, the republic of the mind,

Seeing is believing, so tumble into  line.

One dusky-dusty-time-consuming evening long ago

The empirical method was revealed by the melting of the snow:   

Time’s fatal munificence, the old ebb and flow

There's a long gestation

In th...

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WE Sumerians, in Mesoptamia

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Our time in Erbil was short

We heard that in Mosul

The fascist’s love of power

Was enforced by knife and fist and gun.

Our time in Ninevah had begun,

Long, long beneath the sun.

With Dwekh Nawsha

It was a time for self-sacrifice

A time to break the deadly silence of fear and hate

And now church bells ring in Nineveh

WE have changed fate.

We the ancient As...

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A Slip of the Tongue

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 It is the vestiges that remain

Torn finger nails, scattered brain.

The forensic examinations

Established she was thoroughly dead

The fragility of the body exposed

In the furtherance of the truth

Or, so, we supposed

The devil's-in-the-detail

The enamel on the tooth

Condemned at the root.

SAuch peculiar ways of thinking

Today’s iconography

Tomorrow’s Chinese smog...

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Occult Fish-Rat

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In the cottage by the shore

A Californian girl with toothache

In 1969 was advised to drink

Fortified wine. Fortified by

C16H16N2O2 Lysergic acid

Which we duly did, sharing.

I took her to the emergency

Dentist who was a very nice

Anglolan. We talked about

The war against the Portuguese

As I saw the spiders from Mars

David Jones was later to notice

Too. Since then...

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The Young Die Young

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Shading monochrome - grey then black, never white,

This light is outta sight,

 - the end of the beginning is near

Creep up – come,  listen here.

On the street the white boys are sleeping it off

In sub-zero, cough, cough, fucking cough.

We, new Russians gather– no gulag this

Just alcohol, heroin, crack, piss:

Kosovans, Nigerians, Kenyans,

At  the fence, pleading, ple...

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Moment of Vision

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Melancholy is a deep affliction I have no prescription For this sadness This disease of the heart, Washes colour From the poppy, Causes the flesh  To shrink from the touch. Sinks the gardens of the heart, Into rot Here, birds don’t sing, Silence on the wing, The sun hides behind A cloud of circumstance Rain comes in bloody drops, A child suffers All the infirmities ...

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Winter is Coming

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We wake to the rumbling thunder of blood,

Pumping hearts, twisted hearts, this shadow and I

Squeeze into the thick silences of trees.

Now the dark lights of Christmastide afflict us

Twilight memories drift, flux and flicker

In this breeze of time,

Penumbra-beginning, hologram-end,

Such pungent affirmations, s...

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i.m. Pte Jack Prince

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As the light fades ever faster,

And the temperature drops

– I am recalled

To this dialogue with the dead.

My grandfather, Jack, had his

Last pint of mild in this pub

I am sitting in before

Embarking for France in 1914...

And his first one back in September 1918:

2018 Jack - alive in my heart - always known, never seen -

Not a line of his writing have I , not a wisp of...

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This rose for all the world

For you, for you, for you

These tears for all the dead,

Those empty words of morning tide

This ever-present dread.


Those cloying smells of perfume

On the dresses of the rich,

This workman stumbling homeward

His body in a ditch.


September's moon still shining

On this old planet's doom,

Her wind and tide conspiring,

A chill in...

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The season of the witch

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In the middle of the greenwood,

In the centre of what is,

The wise women gather,

They’re lifting the lid

On the meagre remnants

Of the magic that once was:

Wicca, witch and wizard

In the whispering wood.

Now, in times of turbulence,

Of movements in the blood,

The devotees of the vacuous,

The frightened and appalled,

Watch silently as their children’s blood


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Janissaries were the eldest sons of Christian families in the Ottoman Empire who were taken as infants from their families and brought up as strict Sunni Muslims who often became the cruellest soldiers in the Ottoman armies - but not always.

I'd love to wander far from this meagre time and place.

Back to the ashes and the dust of what I remember

A besmirched, a frightened, a human place: ...

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Wild is the minute, clear is the sky

A world of smell and sight and sound

The portals of discovery all around,

To enter this world, this newfoundland:

The sheer vividness of colour,

The all round visibility of sound,

Flesh and blood and all the half-created

Epiphanies of cloud and sky and sun,

Enter the mind and fly from  the eye -

See the kippering clouds come rush...

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The Wilderness of the human heart

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The simple vision of a child

Will make us see that time is really only borrowed

And that what we perceive is more than half intended

Wild obscurity blocks our view, until the curtain’s rent in two

And too many seconds become too few.


Persecution sets the heart on fire

Memories coagulate like blood,

Gather around the brain

Pass through the arteries of the heart


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The bell jar of innocence

Will, heaven forfend,

Create a world

Without end

Look! Look! Just around the bend.

Such faery stories he'd believed. 

Now in the cramped minds

Of these lean-faced men

With heavy stubble

Who shuffle down the road

Nothing happens.

No looks are exchanged.

Just mothers bending down to warn their children.

One old man falls down flat,


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Tipping Point

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Acid rain strips the trees - bare

Plastic fantastic – two billion tons of the indestructible shit –

Look at the chemical factories

Billowing out tons of pestilential fug


You’ll need more than a red wheel barrow to shift this

We need to live a simpler, better life with fewer things

To clutter up our minds and leave our souls

Bereft – like a soldier floundering in fire or l...

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The sting of the wind
On this cold black night
Reminds me of my
Ancestors who rode
This same wind
As they trudged to work

Down the mine
On early shift.
This  connection, now, is
Deep in my blood
Deep in what I mean
When I say words
In tones that rhyme.

Words that would’ve
Carried meaning in those
Hungry days
When this same old
Mottled sky’d
Pleased the eye of
Those infected wi...

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The monuments of Nineveh

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Now we’re on the Border:

Tranquillisers are no good for what is to come,

Nor are religious beliefs of any sort.

Divert your mind, the manuals say,

Space and the collected tranquillity of bees,

Appeal to me

Speed is now slowed to a drone; a quill,

A quintessence of thrill

For these bastards

Are only minutes from take-off

They say

Nothing impresses like force,


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Near is very far
space, time,


there’s a vastness that appals
white walls

scurrying through
the corridors
of the Christie this monday morning
meeting Emile, yes, named after Jean Jacques’ eponymous hero,

married at the weekend, it has spread,
he fears he’ll soon be dead

his caribbean lilt
echoes in my head.

we smile and laugh a...

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Nuristan, in eastern Afghanistan,  was formerly known as Kafiristan (کافرستان, "land of the infidels") until the inhabitants were converted from an ancient Hinduism, to Islam in 1895, and thence the region has become known as Nuristan ("land of illumination")


The Hindu Kush

The mountains of the moon

And the valleys where we lived

With the faeries and the spirits of the wood.



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Strange Fruit

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Strange fruit hanging 

From the poplar trees

A shame on America

And a shame on me.

Sprung shadows surround me

As words fade like the harvest moon.

Today clouds cavort in the sky

Then sink into the flatness of an American horizon

A pallete of clattering silences

In the drift of Continental armies.

Mourning for the Union dead.

The drift towards liberty began before t...

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Yad Vashem

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There are so few Jews in the world

The Unrighteous among the nations

See to that. Maybe 15 million.

Only 1000 in China. One in a million.

See who receives the nobel prizes.

Look at the contributions to scholarship

To learning. Jews employed by the Spanish

Crown during the Inquisition. Conversos.

But everyone knew not to call on Saturday.

Jews employed by the Ottomans to...

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Tears dry on their own

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Old river Thames

And the Essex marshes

Fugues in free-fall 

And the ending is starting

When two become one

On an ancient swansong

Sung in a minor key

Will it drag you along?

And all for your lover

And so-little for yourself.

Femininity in this bluesy mood

Leaves us on the shelf.

As the tide goes out


Like the dark stars in the sky

And the friendl...

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Blessed icons of the Christian East

Fallen into the hands of charlatans and money-lenders

Assyrians, Greeks, Syriacs, Jacobites

Survivors of the Ottoman genocide of Christians

And the west confesses to nothing,

Nothing at all, as its sun sets,

Its meaning has leached away

Into mindless consumption.

Avoiding churches as unluc...

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On Oxford Road in Manchester On an early autumn day I saw an angel pass me by I nearly passed away. That flare is with me still. You know, if healthy, poor or ill. And I can walk that faery way still At  the falling of the tear, you know, When mourning or in fear, My memory sings to bring me here: On Oxford Road in September We walked slowly arm-in-arm Small signs said much...

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A Withering

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Dried up, shrivelled, exposed,

Warps and wefts waste away

My  body afflicted with decay

The passing of the day.

No thirst-quenching insight....

What was is it that was rubbed away?

Like stains that dry in the sun...

A life, an inclination, a sense of fun?

We wither, languish, and decay.

Time and loved ones pine away. 

Spilt water, wine?  A life, in time.


No tr...

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The Sun Brigade

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(dedicated to the all-women brigades of the Kurdish YPG ܚܕܝ̈ܘܬܐ ܕܣܘܬܪܐ ܕܥܡܐ)


Some say we can only play our part

(Most promise money, a very few art),

Nobody outlives the roles they play

Or so they say,

We must continue day-to-day.


Or so the complacent westerners say.


We? We choose another, older, harder way,

Cast our ashes along the crucified way,

Exposed ...

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The fall of Constantinople 1453

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Everything fades in time

Memories, birds in the trees,

Even these dreadful expulcations 

That old druid time plays the same deceptions

Plays havoc with the mind

As we reach out to touch each other's skin

And take that leap we hope 

Will find us somewhere human.

Sardonic wit, the sceptical glance,

The silent prayer

Converge into this plea

To wear your learning light...

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The days of stormy autumn come

Mother, child, brother, son,

Memories, like dust, infest my eyes, 

Swirling, like a Turner sky,

Like water under wind,

Mixing greys and blacks and whites and blues,

Chiaroscuro, tussling these monochromes

Into the piebald heavens above.

Below, girls in mucky summer dresses,

Boys with unruly mothers,

Fathers absent, except in dreams,


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