Poetry Blog by John E Marks

A home I never had

Serendipity came my way, on a blowy Lancaster day

Blown in all the way from Cal-i-forni-i-a, an idea of a girl

That I kept in my head, long after she was dead 

Except in great extremity when I'd gamble all that I had

On her not being sad. But, maybe, I was wrong and Jenny

Had sung a bitter-bitter-song. A song of her declining days

Drifting into a frustration-opoid-filled Palo Alt...

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Morning maniac music

Shakes me awake

The regular guys

Those who once brought hope

Now bring hate.


Over the mountain,

the clouds scud away

blood on the floor

it's all fading away.


Blood on the soul,

and blood over water

All those refugees 

we oughter.....

stick 'em in the camps

and camp'em on the shelf

of our conscience



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Dark Star

Falling in love

Beats falling in line

What is our derivative today

A bluesy-chime?


In this curve of time

We need a degree of differentiation

To establish our rate of change

With respect to time.


There are a number of ways

To fix this derivative:

In the end they all amount to the same



In the fourth dimension

The grad...

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On the Brink

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Her train of thought enters a tunnel,

she's off the rails, at risk;

tracking back

she sees that

the perfect day

for her to go away

will never arrive.


So she must loop back

into herself,

link past, present and future

into a spherical loop:

a theory made of everything,

to guide her and to link her

into the self-contained mathematical model 

of isol...

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Hearts are thrown at Strangers aren’t they?


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Splattered on a canvas

Scrawled on a wall.


Is just

A husk of form,

Without the artless agony

Of daily life:

The strangled scream

And the carving knife.



Guernica Pablo Picasso 1937

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Photo by Khamkhor on Unsplash


My hesitancy bothered me for a long time

It is not the cruelty of children that angered me,

But that my hesitation to commit the word to air

And, aye, maybe, to heart, was treated as an affliction

By those with the polished shoes 

Starched aprons which set them apart.


Sometimes I was not even there when they mocked me but I kn...

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We are all in a minority-of-one, of sorts,

Embedded in the randomness of thought,

The quirks we cultivate, or choose to ignore,

Is our first glance going to ceiling or floor?


Raising the intonation at the end of a statement

Problematizes even the most complacent thought;

Or, maybe, we look our interlocutor straight in the eye

Let him slowly work out the exact nature of ou...

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Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash

A terrible thing happened to my friend and his family today.

He took his life on an ordinary Monday. Hung himself by the neck

From a tree. Left this life and just went away.

Leaving his loved ones to pick up the pieces.

His mum couldn’t stop shaking at his funeral

Paid for by us, his friends

Her rickety car matched her blonde hair.


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Moon, moon


Moon came to an old Cheshire mere,
In all her shadowy finery.
This boy cannot stop looking
And looking and looking at pretty Missy Moon.
Thunder growls on this high summer eve,
Missy Moon shows off her talents,
Her rounded suppleness of form
Shows us all her shades and shadows and crevices.
Toing-and-froing the moon swings like an old nursery rhyme
Moonlight flows and flows and t...

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The beautiful Cathars of Languedoc




The ideas of the beautiful Cathars of Languedoc spread across western Europe

Cathar comes from the Greek: καθαροί, katharoi, “the pure [ones]”

They built on the dualistic theology of Manichaenism

Which they blended with the eastern Christianity of Byzantium

They were ascetic: believing the matetial world was the evil realm of Satan

Whilst the world of the spirit w...

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The Last Judgement


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.


Large drops of rain shall fall, freezing into ice,

Falling into full sunshine.


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The winter-sharp brains of children 
Took a turn for the worse,
Suffered an inferiority complex

Caused by all the old men: quick to criticise, slow to help.. 

Dispersed, triumphant solely in their dreams.
Children running across raging seas danced on the waves. 

Such a storm-blessed salty awakening.
They had nothing to regret. 
They were children who coped with HIV, nursed t...

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Photo by Tom Butler on Unsplash


Missing the wildness of the beautiful

We degenerate into words. Waiting, between

Sentences, for the Muse to catch up with us,

We fulminate, flash like lightning, explode so

Violently that I catch myself thinking this

Is an all an act to compensate for the time

My friend climbed that tree before disappearing

To Japan for all eter...

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A continuing chaos: An American fugue


One must  recognize chaos in oneself

To be able to give birth to a dancing star.

Now, only the vestiges remain:

Go on, consumers, conduct a forensic examination,
And when complete, then you scatter the remains:
Finally, you will see the fragility of the body,
In the furtherance of the truth:
Note the devil’s-in-the-detail;
We are condemned at the root.

Here's a roof for ...

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Under the Moon: An American contrapuntal



Photo by Diana Parkhouse on Unsplash


I prefer that you are not angry with me,

I am not a slacker or a malingerer

With you I can be honest, I have a problem with my DNA.

The genetic malformation makes my life a heavy globe

to carry. Do not walk under my feet. Give me space.

You can be very funny - with your cutting wit

Funny enough to dissolve most men — like...

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i.m. Paul Leon

"`He was courteous but very silent. He was good with children. His eyesight may have been impaired, but he had an ear open to the world." This is how Alex Leon recalls James Joyce, who, between 1928 and 1939 was an almost daily visitor to his family's flat on the rue Casimir-Perier in Paris. Joyce came to consult with Alex's father, Paul Leon..." 'The Irish Times', Thu, Oct 29, 1998


A ...

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a wuthering whispering wind

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The other side of the bay we find

tramps' halls of resistance flashing by

where memory cascades into

availanches on request, tramp to tramp,

intelligence tests, read last week's  news,

reading between the lines of this misty day; 

most modern  mobile minds are really quite unaware of significance

just click into life at 7am - with WiFi with work 

providing ample assistance ...

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Photo by Wayne Chan on Unsplash

(for Cathy)

If all the days of all the years were made of wine and gold
They’d be present in the light of intelligence in this one dog’s eyes.
This friendship across species — a Buddhist mantra –
Rocks me like a good old boy, befriends me like the rain.
He’ll be with me when the gates fly open — his love will never end.
Seek out the depths, the s...

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The season of the witch


moments of the past

fall flat

memories do not last:

kicking leaves

in stormy-autumn 

tumbling heaps, red, gold and brown

deep-set colours all around

echoing the silent dread

of  the day of the dead.

A memory-lost, a memory-found,

storm-tossed words,

all around,


but never said:

regrets of a life misled.

Dust-motes float

around my head,


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Echoes of history

Passing these whiter shades of pale, these pretty traces of lace,

We reveal the opal-luminosity of these few remaining late Romans,

Their indigo-dreams red with the gore of resistance on this bloody

May Day, negating their absorption into the timeless air of antiquity,

Through the thousand year creation of Constantinople’s drift and swell,

Rising into Elysium’s perfumed garden ...

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A blackbird sings on Bluebird hill


November brought to mind in August: 

The lack of light, that all day twilight!

How can anybody live through such visual misery?

Without declining into snake, or toad?

Even the trees will have no leaves.

And the cold will rise to infect our eyes!

We are, unfortunately, not Italian, nor Etruscan,

Just woolly-backed mammoth barbarian sorcerers

Of a certain druidical d...

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John Keats 1795-1821

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Melancholy's lack of zest

Was written all over his palimpsest:

To die at twenty-five to some

Will hardly seem to have been alive.

But Johnny Keats lived and loved

for poetry, music, kisses, tears

Eschewing self-pity-suicide

He tried his best to stay alive

With medicine and Fanny's tears 


No crossing of the river Lethe, as yet,

Undefeated by TB, at least ...

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An old-fashioned sonority


My friend is dead.

I met him here

He was wise,

But he was not clear

About anything - afar or near.

For which I was grateful.

I try to hold him clear in mind -

on the random wildwind strain

where we hear old notes playing -

I maintain the glory of his voice, his name,

But I have a sick dread of a fading

Time, unmaintained by love or rhyme.


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At the wedding of the dead

I went to see a dead man's wedding today.

I can sing again, some may say,

Even if the bridegroom cuts out his heart

And swears they'd never part

I'll plant a heart in the national park

But the NIMBYs would exclaim,

In addition flowers cannot bloom,

For the NIMBYs are in their 60s with no debts,

They think they'll live for ever

But between the layers of birdsong death i...

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You may want to be a rose,

You are beautiful enough,

and your perfume makes me faint

Heady it is  in that one garden,

Where the best woman in the world

Works like a peasant, smiling, striving,

The trimming of the hedges,

If I was a sculptor there would be statues

To remember you as a young woman

But I am a dreamer and I only remember every inch of you

Just as the w...

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space-time horizon


Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

I have a dead weight inside me

Which I carry around all day,

It often tries to kill me

And it won’t go away.

I send this freight’s immensity

To the centre of a black hole;

Retracing the wandering journey

Of my wandering soul.


Mine is a grave singularity

That contains a huge mass,

In an infinitely small space:

A d...

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We wake to the rumbling thunder of blood,
Pumping hearts, twisted hearts, this shadow and I
Squeeze into these thick silences of trees.
Soon the dark lights of Christmastide afflict us
Twilight memories drift, flux and flicker
In this breeze of Time,
Penumbra-beginning hologram-end, my friend,
Such pungent affirmations, slip into the past:
Generations of suffering: eyes lifted to...

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The Poetry Business

A reet rough diamond

This Broughton boy

Salford born

And Salford fled.

Y're an Essex  'Erbert now me lad,

No dirty old town fer you, our kid,

London suburbia'll have to do

Fer likes o'you.



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The Unwritten

The times of wonder have gone

We hold on - the wise women drugged

Into submission.

Forensic psychology reveals traces

Of long-forgotten haunted faces

Which, like Munch's lurid, silent scream,

Degenerate into nightmaredream.

Or, so it seems.

Meanwhile, in population centres,

Desire, in all its lurid manifestations,

Falls into disuse,

All is as it was before:


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A Sufi Saint contemplates his imminent dissolution

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Goodbye my Sufi friends and lovers

Nothing now exists to connect you to me

Tayyar is honourable and full of good intent

I will rise from the trap of the world

I will ask you to be my servant in paradise

You are my dancer, I am your poet, we can laugh

Together on days when I taste the rain-drift-clouds.

When you sew I can watch you and fall in love

Again I remember our ...

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Ignorance is strength.


Hengist & Horsa's Humble Bequest

Is to just, please, give it a rest:

The plethora of techo-junk-gibberish

That purports to tell us who we are and who we must be.

Genetically, you canna convince me;

Sinister motives mebbe but sinister consequences, aye.

A sparkly world of the eternally new 

'fwiended' with a lipth

of likes

Can you adam and heave it:

networking on ...

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The pure nectar of this moment

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Shout it out or whisper it secretly in my ear

Tell me all the things I will never want to hear:

Tell me how Sharia law liberates the maid:

Tell me how nationalism is patriotism writ large;

Tell me how exactly and who it is that Jesus saves.

Now I’ll tell you our lives are way too crammed with things

How we need to let go if we want to hear the s...

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Those who are near, are far away

Along by the dirty old river we walk and talk, 

Talking of everything, of life, of what it takes,

And never gives back.

We resurrect the past.

Fifty years and more; we hoped for the best,

Prepared for anything, we got by, day-to-day.

Summertime, when the living was easy, and we were young, 

We wanted so desperately to own a scooter, a motorbike. 

But our families were poor....

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We Sumerians in Mesopotamia

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 Nineveh 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 terror

And now, again,  church bells ring in Nineveh

WE have changed fate.

We the ancient Assyrian p...

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free enterprise

I remember a man, not a young man either,

in the very respectable county of Buckinghamshire

near Iver, who swallowed his pain by swallowing his beer,

escaped from his fears by drinking more, 8%, I can't be sure,

And, once having swallowed the beer, became the most incredible bore.

One you'd most definitely avoid f'sure.

He balanced all, brought all to mind, decided art was the up...

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kind of blue

john coltrane in my mind, a war companion in my head

miles davis not far behind, it's the kind of blue that rhymes

a mixing that's complex and true: a rippling of the genes,

a resurrection of memory, a breaking of the heart

a saxophone screeches us apart, a wail, a scream,

blue-lightening flashing, it's more than a blue-tinged dream,

billie holiday, lady day, tears out my soul


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Composed in sweat

Compose a verse that is hotter than a boil

Compose a poem that'll flare up in  oils.

Compose a eulogy that outreaches the stars

Compose a symphony as an epiphany of bars

Compose the day as a hotter aspect of night

Compose a moody monochrome in sunlight.

Fit your creativity to working inside an oven 

Freeze out the hotness of a witches' coven

Filter the air with extreme air ...

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Scene of crime incident


black rain glistens on the window panes

as she looks out on unfenced existence,

at the the life that never was, outside

her eyes shine like stars beneath the lights

turned on by mom before she went off on one

these men hunched up, collars pulled tight, 

detectives steaming under these high ceiling lights;

 a woman in high heels clutches mummy's bag

unsteadily she shudd...

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Tender is the Night

Tender is the Night

And all her forgotten beauty

People pass away, out of sight

On this late July midnight

The serpent and the saviour sit

Side-by-side squirming.

Somewhere in old-England

Where they drink and spit.

Turn a trick, laugh, disguise

Unhidden by their hooded eyes.

No truths given by our lady moon

No disguising this faint silvery tinkling of bells.


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Decline and Fall

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Shadows left to sink in the ashes and dust

The best of us fell on the Somme, Verdun,

Dunkirk, Burma, Malaya, North Africa

Our luckier cousins had long ago set off

Across the broad Atlantic: convicts moved

Straight to the Swan River of Western Australia

Convict scum of the East End born to live again.

The ragged Scots, after Culloden and the clearances;  

So many Irish every...

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Heart of Gold


Alf's garden were slightly uneven, slightly tiered

From early February’s putting on of scattered beauty –

Snowdrops and crocuses, daffodils and hyacinth –

Through a cascade of shade and colour

His garden bloomed throughout the growing year.


Wild primroses, crocus and aubrietia

Then larkspur, delphinium and the beautiful bluebells


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The Blossoming of the North

First light: a new beginning,

at the crack of dawn

feel the air against the skin

stop to listen to the dawn chorus.

Thrillingly, it is still summer.

Last year, madness brushed with death.

.Now, I'm thinking:

"The world is full of magic things,

Patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper."

My senses are sharp,

like a razor I cut through the trash

of man's decei...

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No woman is an island



It is always better to depart

at the end of life

whilst windows are locked

and doors closed

but this is often impossible.

Now, when thousands of lakes have been removed

 wars are fought over water

millions of cups of coffee no longer drunk,

your gaze explodes like petrol thrown on a bonfire.

and this time it really is my fault

some of us are good at dissembl...

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The words that he said,

in malice and spite,

lit a spark in her heart

flowed in her blood

then entered her brain,

and did her no good,

She was never the same.

As she glowered and festered

she rotted and knew

her cancer diagnosis

was most certainly true.

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Sometimes she speaks through gritted teeth

To herself, admonishingly. She, unforgiven,

Riven by frustration. So hard on herself: 

A mother, a lover, a woman who writes poetry with

Her eyes. Disguises truth with flashes of beauty

Remembers the older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune

Closes her eyes as she suddenly mounts to a crescendo

Of temper, that leaves her sobbing, inhali...

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Wild Butterfly

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Egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly

This natural magic of transformation

Can happen to you too. Time makes you

More beautiful. Human metamorphosis

Liberates souls. Such a rare achievement

Requires an emptying of the mind

A deep (and often painful) compassion.

Defeat your expectations;

Free yourself from what is expected and you will see

The passing beauty of a butterf...

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Missy Moon was sad as only Miss Moon can be. In tears she seeks to flee the nightmare of her life
We dream that moonbeams can pluck:

The calmness of flowers, the depth of moments,
The completeness of a live birth;
But white sobs slide into our ears
Telling us to forget her smile.

On the fortunate day of your first kiss,
Drunk with the all the heady scents of sadness,
Now ingrained into...

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The swan's last waltz:

Lithe legs spread

Neck stretched

Feet splayed

A swan-song.

Toes strong

Fingers pulse

Then snap;

A pirouette:

A spectacular series

Of whirls on her toes

He circles her on the ball of his foot

Musical, muscular movements mingle and mix

With a shiver of white she jumps

A catching of the breath as she slumps

Into his arms;

A choreo...

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Messing about in boats

Ah, the tip of the straw still gripped by your teeth

I move you gently. You are asleep.

Not jealous or envious or proud.

You have a little money but enormous dignity.

You live in a caravan and still poach

For the pot. You are remarkably silent about the past.

I think it is wise to let sleeping dogs lie.

You would have taken another birth into more fortunate circumstances


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When you came to me, through an open window

All the cracked envelopes of me came into your hands,

There was nothing in them - just love that you could throw away - 

If you chose, you threw it straight back to me, I caught it, we were away.

You gave me a lot of praise with your eyes

 For being alive

I thought you are desiring reciprocation, but you weren't

You were just a girl,...

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