Poetry Blog by John E Marks

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John Marks on Good Friday (4 days ago)

steve black on Good Friday (5 days ago)

John Marks on Good Friday (5 days ago)

keith jeffries on Good Friday (5 days ago)

John Marks on The drawing of a torch (5 days ago)

steve black on The long genocide (6 days ago)

steve black on The drawing of a torch (6 days ago)

keith jeffries on The long genocide (7 days ago)

John Marks on Blue-remembered (8 days ago)

steve black on Blue-remembered (8 days ago)

The ruins of Nineveh

Those rich metaphors drawn from the earth and sea,

Rich biblical language of baptism and burial and birth,

Blossom and harvest, wise ones, holy fools, women.

From the lips of children learn that clinging to life

Is not sufficient: the worried well can still go to hell.


Smoke over Mosul. Mosul’s churches where once

The Jacobite heart of Christian belief was celebrated


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National Thowfeek Jama'ath,

A Sri Lankan affiliate of Daesh,

Carried out a Satanic attack 

On  'Christian and Crusader

Targets' in the Christian area

Of Colombo.

The deadliest attack,

Was against St Sebastians

In Negombo, known as 'little Rome'. 

One of the suicide bombers

Waited for the priest to call

The children up to the altar

Before detonating his bomb.


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The Unspoken

The wind cuts through this January night

Slicing like a razor through the skin of my face

Signs on the road hidden by an iron fog

The cry of the wind is all in vain.

Love crossed this black hole in time.

In the old be-jewelled, spider-webbed

Way kisses when young are tender and long,

Not in this frost-filled graveyard,

Where the dead remain unusually silent;

Yew tree sha...

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The ghosts who sell memories

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There's a forty ton truck

Coming his way

Will he sway out of the way?

Or, does he believe that nothing happens by accident?

Are you on your phone, texting your mate?

Hurrying up so you wont be late

Later, will you scream all alone?

Fall into the opposite of mystic,

Sink into real pain?

Dark river flowing

Through your veins

As you moan

like the animal we are


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An Airy nothing

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The silk road into Manchester,

The sundry stops, and stinks,

His rising into fury

Her slinking into think.

This edge of trees and wildings

The glazing of the sun

The rising sniff of wolverine

The falling of the sun.

Mixing flesh and friendship

In the rising up of love

This game of death and nothingness,

The dying of the dove,

The beginning of the end, my friend,


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After the genocide


From the cracks along the pavement the purple flowers bloom

Now this concrete is the medium and there's a body in the room

Paint peels slowly and surfaces glow with dappled sunlight,

Words scrawled on a wall: all-women  'jin' unit based in Sinjar

Will throw Daesh into hell

These words bounce around the walls of my cell

As sun and shadow meet

To swirl in the whirl of this ...

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Good Friday

"That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?"  Christina Rossetti



Sackcloth on our backs

Ashes in our mouths

Wailing loudly and bitterly

Morning maniac music

Awakens me to the truth

Those who once brought hope

Now mired in a maggoty apathy 

And that, over the mountains,

Black clouds scud w...

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The drawing of a torch

Sometimes there is only bad news:

Death waiting in the wings,

In the meantime

We must hone our vision to what is half-perceived


Will we risk our children for the future?

Make preparations, plan?

How to respond to a war of each against each?

We must find friends where we can.

Learn to speak in broken languages

Bring back all those young men we lost

In t...

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green in all its shades

the burgeoning of blue:

grape hyacinth, cornflowers, forget-me-nots

delphinium-blue sky

blue, grey, white, black, swirling

chiaroscuro, echoing Turner's kippered skies

a green heart,, so full of love for the simple

decencies of human nature

when amongst hills, weeds, nests, trees.

birds singing as if an end had come

 to the fickle ordinariness ...

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red-gold heaven

of stormy autumn

held in memoriam

the leafy-mist lights this late

October dawn recalls,

emptily, curiously,

design hidden 

in swirls  of hieroglyphics,

the wood-smoke of the ages,


a fleeting meeting with the past:

something else that does not last,

visions hidden in a mind

aberrant, obsessed, selfish,

wisps of co...

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The long genocide

Notre Dame's Gothic aspiration

Became a symbol of the French nation.

It took one hundred years

To build Notre Dame cathedral

1160 - 1260.

Within two hundred years

Of its completion

The largest cathedral in the Christian world

St Sophia's cathedral in Constantinople

Built to the glory of God

In 537AD,

The centre of Orthodox Christianity,

Was converted into an Ott...

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Love in a police state

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We were in a public garden 

In England in May

We sat together

In mild balmy weather

We did not track those

Who moved around us

They had their instructions

We looked at the water and ducks

And the weeping willow tree

Reflected in your eyes

A subtle disguise

I dropped words into your ears

There may well have been listening devices

Planted here and there 

I u...

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First Person

I knew from the beginning

The sun would rise

Teach me to cast my eyes to heaven

Cloudy days are sacrifices 

To compensate we have the green

And water worlds, tall trees and dappled sunlight

Most would like the world to be clean again

 I knew from the beginning that my heart was tender

Easily broken. There is no balm for the earth's hurt.

There's no point fooling around, ...

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Teenage Dreams

Teenage dreams so hard to beat

Tapping feet to a fleeting tune

Teenage days gone too soon..

A blazing intensity every second

Flying as high as a flaming heaven.

Everything new - a fire in the blood - 

Love at first sight, as lovers should

Follow your heart, reap what you sow, 

Follow your dreams, never say No.



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Empty streets in a town I once walked

A town which is fading

Or so my sisters say

It was always too late for us, my love,

Cold winds blew our dreams away.,

We were both born too early or too late

See, the scattered snow settling in.

The misery of a future when he's not there.

I look into my dreams even before you knew

I existed and all the twists of life tangled

Me up...

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Friend of the Devil

'Non Serviam,' the devil said,

'I will not serve that in which I no longer believe'.

Lucifer, fallen angel, tried hard to be good

But servitude just wasn't in his blood:

A pebble in a dream, a breast that heaves,

With all the unresurrected flotsam

Of flowers that leave a cloying perfume in the breeze

Satan has a mind that rhymes

With time's eunuch 

Millennia: battered, n...

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"Leave you homesick for a home you never had..."  John Moreland


This rose for all the world

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,


His body in a ditch.


September's moon still shining,

On this ol...

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In the dread of night

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Spending time

In the deepest reaches of night,

Embroiled by this thick absence of light,

My beating heart

Is torn apart from the inanimate


We spend so much time

Acquiring, fetishizing.

Meanwhile, my soul meanders

Into a foreign time and space,

Delighting in breaking through

the barriers of self,

Rising and falling like the moon

Like the tide, like wom...

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Stippled sky

Passing strange

muttered words in uncounted time

Listen closely to your heart-beat.

Words decline into cant –

quick, flippant, arrogant

 Gregorian chants speak across centuries

Cultures buried in silence, the stonemason’s art,

A palimpsest of languages:

Latin, Norman-French, English

Each overtaken in time: vernacular or divine.

Blue eyes at her funeral.

Follow in h...

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Snow in June

I'd prefer a rose in December

Than snow in June

But that's to be expected

Common sense has its infirmities

Nothing happens too late

Or too soon.

Those stone-built houses of Lancaster

Told me a story of endurance

Despite the fact that I was illiterate

At the time, my eyes deceived by promises

Of an abiding

Shaman, who once, said to me

Don't rely on a break in the...

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My parents were Christian, Serb,

I remember the icons in my mother’s house,

The smell of roasted meat on feast days.

One Orthodox Christmastide,

I think I was nine or ten,

My parents made me hide when the Turks

Came to our village in Kosovo again

Looking for boys and women.

My father was ashamed.

He hung his head.

I pretended I was dead.

Hiding under my sister’s be...

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Another day

The sky is grey today with streaks of blue;

Swirls in the sky reflect sombre horizons;

Behind my back cumulus clouds mass

Over the hills, conspiring in their usual

Ragged silence. In front of me are drear

Trees laid bare, a mist of water soaks the air.

A cough that I caught in the peasoupers

Of the past,  pulls my scarf tighter,  I focus keenly

On the patterns of infini...

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Entanglement (Verschränkung)


 Light waves to Schrödinger’s cat,
 it does not matter
 if a particular particle’s partiality
 parts from the classical concept
 of duality.
 For a wave can be a particle
 and matter, or matter not.

Behaviour at the quantum level
is unpredictable in the extreme

firing particles through a mountain
isn’t as odd as it first may seem.

Like position and momentum,
or like phot...

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Truth is  hard to find – the years ahead, the years behind,

Yet find it we do – in snatches – on days that go by:

On days when nothing is decided,

On throw-away days such as these:

Smells and  bells, and all the frumpery of lawns.

Children connect us to the truth: goblins and elves

Fairy tale worlds without end

Now elude us

Metaphors are not fit to give it shape

Nor are ...

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In commemoration of the fall of Kōnstantinoúpolis 29 May 1453

Everything dies in time

Memories, birds in the trees,

That the old druid time

Plays such cruel deceptions

Creates such havoc in the mind

As we reach out and hope

To find somewhere human.

Sardonic wit, the sceptical glance,

The silent prayer,

Converge into this plea

Wear your learning lightly.

Reach out to Syrian and Lebanese

Assyrian, Druze, Maronite, Ezedi


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Along the Unhallowed Way

This old feller  pushes this other old bloke in a wheelchair

Down a dreary Salford road in late November.

Avoiding kerbs, talking

Always talking, talking of nothing,

Talking of everything:

What it takes, and never gives back,

The load.

With wheels of fire and haloes running all amuck

These two desperados meander along past

The pound shops and the bookies and the booze 24...

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Why Brexit?









For sale.

No bidders, no interest.

No sale.

Blanked by middle-class morality

The channel 4, BBC, well-heeled media brigade

Dashing out of the Salford studios back to London

With all 500+ Remain MPs

As quick as you can, my man,

Back to the Estonian nanny, The French chef, Polish gardener

Such a ...

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Lurking in the shadows - on this groggy

Gas lit night,  that followed so many

To their deaths in this age of the machine.

See the tender white crosses-row-on-row

On a  wind'swept night of swirling snow.

Leave the creaking branches, catch a whiff

Of Lady Fortune a-floating on the breeze

Peased I was, immeasurably.  More fool me.

I introduce myself to darkness -

To it...

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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 ...

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Burnham Beeches with Anna, 1985


 The sadness of Sundays
 even amidst
 the various
 reds, yellows, browns and golds
 of stormy autumn.

 As I walk
 I have in mind
 the fragility of a veined

 So, who am I to resist
 this child’s
 every imperative?

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After Life

Memories are all we have

Feeling happy, feeling sad,

Thinking of the distance

That separates us over time

Unless, of course, you wanna

Get stuck in the eternal present

And that just aint pleasant .

One high English summer day in 1984

We took our daughter, Kate,

To the Dorset coast.

She was eighteen months young

My wife was pregnant with our second child

Anna, wh...

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Letter to my daughter

We wager all we have in the life stakes

Then the choice is upto the gods

It doesn't matter who likes me or not

They can dance on my grave for centuries

I do not care, if you're not there.

Yes, it was me, that helped your mum conceive thee

Dear child of the morning. I will never-ever

Be through with you. Lady Blue.

There's no stake in my heart

Nothing in my  eyes, brain, ...

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Forgetting the usual run of things

She'd sing as she worked

Looked up and down the street

Decided there was no retreat

And committed an act of petty vandalism - 

but enough to enrage the already angry man -

such a cocky racist, sexist, homophobic

twat of an excuse for a man,

she thought as she tidily shut the door

of her quietly terraced house.

She knew he had CCTV bu...

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Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought  Percy Bysshe Shelley


Low slung August sun shadows stonework into 
deeper shadow lands — 
phantoms adrift on the wide Sargasso sea — 
and so unruffled, these lawns, 
and all this frumpery.

So much then has time 
and its opposite 
done for me.

It was along these lines that we walked, it was 
beneath these swaying poplar...

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Crack  thunder over head

Flash crackle of lightning

The gods said:

Stretch your words across the sky

Illuminate the stark, skeletal

Trees of a northern winter

Some poor sod undoubtedly dead

Rumble roar-not-fled

Echo, reverberate,

All around my desperate head,

Hidden clouds drop hail-rain

Like soft stones pelting down

On a world turning wet and lonely

With a c...

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The Doors of Perception



Jim Morrison would throw a massive party at the cemetery in Paris
Where his mortal remains were buried one bleak summer day in 1971
He was the man who came back through the door
To attend his own wake and to read more 
From Joyce’s work-in-progress Finnegan’s Wake
Anybody who has passed through the wall
Will be changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty is born
She may be wis...

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Himalayan Greeks

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Abstracted in Afghanistan

I pick cankers for a simple

Choose  a rhapsody in blue

Love lapis lazuli

and you.

I paint the Virgin Mary

With ultramarine pigment

Extracted from lapis lazuli

Only found in north-east Afghanistan

Where I am with the brave Kalash,

In their snow-capped mountains,

Of the Hindu Kush,

They have resisted assimilation into Islam for over a tho...

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Evil Twin clones

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In a world without connotation

In a world of artificial intelligence

No ripples come from the stone thrown in water

No ripples come from the word written on the page

Just an eternally blank slate

A Tabula Rasa of clones

Colourless, without scent,

Designed not created

Decidely, not,  heaven-sent

Man's ill-fated sojourn is done

To be knocked off his throne


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Snow white



A poem's appearance is of little consequence
The moon was sad as only the moon can be

Men in tears seek to flee the nightmare of their lives
We dream that with the fingers we can pluck

The calmness of flowers, the depths of moments,
The completeness of a live birth;
White sobs slide into our ears
Remembering the smile of your mother,

On the fortunate day of your first kiss.

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After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.

'Binsey Poplars', Gerard Manley-Hopkins SJ, 1879


the emptiness of moonlight 

strikes me dumb

shadows flicker like an old film

cats eerilly call each to each,

cats yowl, strike a pose,

freeze, with fur mantled by shadow;

so much idiosyncratic beauty given to us - 

see the clouds scoop across the face

of the moon as the ni...

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VIVA YPG - Women's Protection Units

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So-tired, she slept standing up on the bridge of signs

Death fell faint and disappeared still alive

Into the guts of this ISIS sniper

Who follows his actions with bloody word-sighs.

Tiny hidden exhalations, bubbles which speak volumes

Disguised as a fashion for these young soldiers of Allah.

The Kurdish women step  up on the shoulders of these sister-giants

Those who scrolled ...

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Come with me down to the depths

Down to places you'll never forget:

Down where the good are always struck dumb

Down in their graves, down in their mounds,

Where all that it takes for evil to swell,

Is for the good to remain silent, as hell.

This gap is a canyon, unimpeachable cliffs,

Between the airy nothing of words that exist

in the brain and the thud of unalloyed experie...

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Vernal Equinox


In this country there is rarely a fierce hurricane

That easily destroys that which has taken

generations to create

Here, all things move towards their own dispersal, 

Trees covered with mustard seeds

As a cold front approaches.

Tonight the cheerless moon

Shines on us all for good or ill

Some people are enthralled by shadows

Penumbras, glints, glimpses, as am I,


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Dead Baby

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On a windless night

I feel the house shake

A child swirls rises

I smoke. Sit still.

Forget. Remember.

In this twenty-first century

The wind screams, rises

My mind screeches

Scattering thoughts, paper

Rocking foundations, shattering monuments.

Outside I gather windfalls in my night clothes

Amass them

Images scatter like dust.

I forget. Remember.

Rain pierce...

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Piper at the gates of dawn

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Syd Barrett 6 January 1946 - 7 July 2006

Fare thee well you crazy diamond,

The lone piper at the gates of dawn,

An Icarus, a Phoenix, a Painter and

A Poet. Turned away by the mystics,

For too much ‘emotional behaviour’.

You followed nobody’s lead.

Traced the life of the underwear thief,

Arnold Layne. Saw Emily play.

Cut your teeth on mescaline.

Lived another day.  'Fa...

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The Blossoming of the north

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First light: every day a new beginning

Rising at the crack of dawn

To feel the air against my skin

To walk, with the aid of a stick,

To listen to the dawn chorus.

Thrillingly,  it's already late March,

A year since the sepsis started

On St Patrick's Day,

When madness brushed with death.

Now, I'm thinking that when I return

Home with Charlie I'll read

The words, aga...

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A weight is lifted as we look at each other

You, in your brilliant femininity, me, helplessly hoping:

Love has sustained me my whole life

The loss of that, even for a moment,

Leaves me bereft upon a far-shore

The door into the rose garden closed

And I saw what was really always there:

Denying the frosty richness of happiness to myself,

Removing the comfortable unhappin...

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City of the Bee: 22 May 2017, 9:31 pm

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No retreat, No surrender - easy to say, harder to remember,

But we do: in these smoky terraces, which are my home town,

People from across the world

Now share my home:

Huguenots and Flemish weavers remembered in the names of pubs.

The Irish fleeing famine: the O'Donnells and O'Neills on the rub

Ashkenazi Jews escaping the Czarist pogroms: the Cohens and Rabinowitz.


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Bone marrow transplant au Paris

Brutalized eyes in a skull

A husk of image

In an empty skin


Skin as tight as light

As shadows flickering

On a man with eyes like vipers.

Solemn, slow, the tusk begins to grow

From blood and bone.

Limousines shudder

Yams decompose

Draining the body fluid

Into the sewer beneath.


The analysand

Above cas...

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He spoke his lines slowly, his face was a mask,

Until the heart attack took him, dead on cue,

Then all the veils of his trade dropped from him

As he fell ashenly, in the rain, in a moment of pain.


In the small city garden the children are busy

Making scent from flowers and weeds and water

Waiting to be called in to wash their dirty faces,

Brush their teeth and tumble into...

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