Poetry Blog by John E Marks
Tags from last 12 months
Iceflowers in the wind
this storm black night
Stings me awake
dreams scatter the light
(black with cloud,
earth, in grave colours)
No black candles here
no witches’ moon,
No lifting of the gloom
gone, all gone, too soon
(see the dead a-glimmering
brimful against the sky)
Alone in a room
Shimmer in my head
like the living and the dea...
Tuesday 11th December 2018 8:32 pm
The hill was steep upto the Ashton memorial
At 5 am iI was wondering why I was walking up
The hill. I rarely stopped to think in those
Long-gone days, just what I did was what came
'Natural'. I hought of my friends as permanent
Features in my life. Time would tell me that was
Not right. Those with money and charisma would
Be successful. The rest of us would struggle. I'd
Monday 10th December 2018 10:58 pm
It was on a road out of London pulled up at a pub
I heard them say the words that I remember to today.
The drinking man he suffers glug, glug, glug. He loves
The taste of whiskey, the craic, all that convivial shite
But he remembers, truly remembers - he's a creature of
The night. Looking for a moment of content, looking for
A solution, he rumbles all the lying, theft and prosti...
Monday 10th December 2018 9:50 pm
Staring at the red candle, remembering the smell of patchouli oil
Mixed with Red Leb from all those years ago.On Saturday 4th July,
1846 the London Daily News extolled the virtues of this peculiar
Indian oil in preventing moths. Nothing to do with hippies except
India and olefactory-based imagined communities from the past that
Have a grip that will last. Ad agencies will use the ...
Monday 10th December 2018 9:04 pm
Fresh water suits my watery
Nature. As I squint at the ripples,
Watching the ducks glide beside me
Keeping me on the straight and narrow?
The calling of strangers splatters across
The sky and I choke on what I know
And cannot even whisper out, or sigh.
Mountains and sky reflected in the water?
And the ordinary has become extraordinary
Amongst the golden gleams of sunset
Sunday 9th December 2018 11:26 pm
The children were attending, or not, sitting at their desks or not,
On the terrible day of the spoil slip. They may have been thinking
About Halloween but unlikely given the date 21 October 1966
Americana was still at a distance from these south Wales valleys.
More likely the boys would be planning to collect firewood for Bonfire night.
The unforgettable truth was that 14...
Sunday 9th December 2018 7:49 pm
The priestly fathers love to laugh at Quasimodo
They said he was a dirty broken gypsy boy, who climbed like a monkey
These priests in their black robes, jewels and gold crucifix lusted after young Esmeralda
Her wild gypsy eyes flashed and she kicked and she tore and she screamed
Magically Quasimodo lifted Esmeralda into the heavens above
The bells of Notre Dame which had so deafene...
Sunday 9th December 2018 12:59 am
The 1997 collection from Manchester poet John Marks. He was a part-time tutor for the Open University specializing in 18th cent. European literature and 19th cent. British religious history.
ISBN 0 903610 20 5
Low-slung August sun shadows stonework into the
deeper shadow lands —
phantoms adrift on the wide Sargasso sea —
and so unruffled, these lawns,
and all this ...
Saturday 8th December 2018 9:08 pm
WE let others kill the elephants
In our name we are letting this obscenity
Happen. Again and again until the elephants are gone.
It is easier than doing something
That might embarrass us or tire us
WE fear being accused of
Creating a scene by screaming out
Man's cruel derision to elephants
Who we already know mourn the deaths
Of those they love. Scientists are discoverin...
Friday 7th December 2018 10:26 pm
No spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace,
As I have seen in one autumnal face. John Donne
To fear a note of music is not rare.
Listen. We know the wild that is in us
In a Hammer Horror or under Victorian
Street lights. The echoes of a Whitechapel
Hacking dispels air, makes breathing difficult.
The dreadful dreams of sepsis still haunt
Me. Reach inside and tug at t...
Friday 7th December 2018 9:40 pm
Ghosts are everywhere
The pulse of her heart stopped
Wraiths chattering and mixing and melding
In the invisible air
The odd number is the one
Moment lingering in the chair
Talking to a lady no longer there
Odd that even two is only ever 1 + 1
And associations carry on until the wood
Rots and there are no trees and no ice
And no air and nobody there
Only the hallowe...
Thursday 6th December 2018 11:07 pm
The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. Luke 16:19-25
Take the earth’s resources from the poor.
Rob them. They can’t fight back.
They have wives and children to feed.
Yes boss. Sure will boss.
Let them do all the work, stretch
Them on the rack of survival. Grind them
And beat them and terrify and mist...
Wednesday 5th December 2018 10:06 pm
there's only so much reading you can do
so much listening to storms rumble in
from far horizons
we think this earth is solid under us
but talk to a Seismologist
then you'll quake
we carry this dream of solidity
with us always: in hospital, at the grave-side
everywhere our dream allows us to live
hoping, just hoping
that we're travelling towards
Tuesday 4th December 2018 9:41 pm
finisterre is no longer there
the end of the earth has gone
from being occasionally poorly
with sprightly attempts
at good visibility;
she entered a decline
she was last seen
veering off across
the broad atlantic;
her funeral was at sea
the comic Jacobite FitzRoy
has sought to claim lineage
with Admiral Robert FitzRoy
HMS Beagle's capain...
Tuesday 4th December 2018 9:18 pm
Hushed, stuttering, sotto voce conversation
Of women of a certain age squatting in a cafe
Like tigers in a rage. Red in tooth and claw,
They defend their young with barbed remarks that
Carry such sage implications
That the ripples of misunderstanding extend far and wide.
Of their dark past little is known, except mothers
Perform many daily tasks whilst with joy and grief
Tuesday 4th December 2018 5:52 pm
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 extracts
From Joyce's work-in-progress Finnegan's Wake
Anybody who has passed through the wall
Will be changed,
She may be wiser buthe will be unsure of everyt...
Monday 3rd December 2018 10:47 pm
Before the Reformation
The Christian's duty was
To carry out the instructions,
For the whole of the community,
Laid down in Matthew chapter 25 –
That all Christians shall:
· Feed the hungry
· Give drink to the thirsty
· Welcome the stranger
· Clothe the naked
· Visit the sick
· Visit the prisoner
Sunday 2nd December 2018 6:30 pm
My daughters mean the world to me
To keep them safe is my intent
But in a time of war can fathers
Protect daughters? I used to be
So cheerful, so easy in my cares.
But now I hate the moonlight
Scared to be taken unawares.
We are occupied now by Christian armies.
But we keep Muhamed close to our hearts
Whilst professing to be Christians.
In the church the Inquisition ...
Saturday 1st December 2018 10:09 pm
One of the Buddhas of Bamiyan before their wilful destruction
Reading between the lines
Becomes a habit of mind
Out of the side of the eye
Change your mood, gender, age, intelligence
Then look again
What we perceive
What we have
We love and hate
Aye! The implication is
Clear: write without fear.
Buried in her books...
Saturday 1st December 2018 4:20 pm
the blue is missing from the sky
the trees have no leaves
outside it is very cold
the wind is cruel
there is a person
in front of me
i don't know who she is
i remember playing out
with my sisters
on a skipping rope
it is still very cold inside
that lady told me it is morning
that is why i stretch and yawn
the woman said i had a visitor
i was frightened to...
Friday 30th November 2018 9:39 am
Imagine the ego you'd need
To say "son we're on the long march
And the killing has begun.
20,000 purged. It's essential
You know, to know who to trust
As we march over mountains and
Learn to drink dust." The gulag,
Concentration camp, torture chamber
All designed and working to save yer
From thinking for yerself. Chile
Under Pinochet, China under Mao,
Thursday 29th November 2018 10:42 pm
Melancholy's lack of zest
Is written all over palimpsest:
To die at twenty-five to some
Will hardly seem to have been alive.
But Johnny Keats and the Cavaliers
Lived for poetry, music, kisses, tears
Eschewing self-pity or suicide
They tried their best to stay alive.
No crossing of the river Lethe
No seeking out of empty-headed
Oblivion.They preferred to breathe.
Thursday 29th November 2018 8:15 pm
and I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
through the tunnels,
over the wind-swept bridges,
through the sedentary, school-less
villages of the old and unwise
Into the land of my enemies
where hostile witnesses abound
skilled at shaking fists, digging up dirt
spitting and being contemptible
Thursday 29th November 2018 3:54 pm
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's in the air.
Caught cough, cough, coughing in the peasoupers
Of the past, I pull my scarf tighter and focus keenly
On the patterns of inf...
Wednesday 28th November 2018 9:08 pm
Philosophy or poetry?
Plato preferred philosophy,
He would being a philosopher.
Poets, of course, are liars by profession,
And endeavour to give an air of truth
To airy nothings.
Poets, like children, personify ideas
Through extended metaphor and simile
Imagine in more than one dimension
A golden age, an Arcadia, which poets have invented...
Is bewilder’d by these sp...
Tuesday 27th November 2018 11:54 pm
(This poem is dedicated to the beautifully lyrical music of rapture and redemption which this young Californian produced prior to her tragic death by heroin in 1979.)
She's the shadow of a shadow,
She's the smile upon her face,
She's tantalising, like music,
Released from time and space.
Her image is a mirror,
Of glance and glimpse and gleam
On St Agnes Eve pursuing...
Tuesday 27th November 2018 8:24 pm
Bewildered, at the things left unsaid
Serendipity, chances, cut dead:
But wise enough to play the fool.
A vicious wind on a January night
Put out the light and then put out the light
Memory cuts through this taut cold
Slices through it like a knife
Signs hidden by an iron fog beckon:
A life lived in vain..
Across a black hole in time.
I listen to the be-jewel...
Tuesday 27th November 2018 5:10 pm
My brother and son on the edge of the cliff
Walking and talking, they look out to sea
I shout and I shout, but they don’t hear me.
They’re fading, they’re falling, off the cliff side
The sky is as huge, and the sea is as wide
As the moving of the moon, of the rising of the tide.
This Calvary moment, when Satan speaks well
Of how he’ll adjust things and make it all right,
Sunday 25th November 2018 10:24 pm
Moments of Vision are fading away
But a magical moment is, here, today;
All it will cost you,
Is all of your life.
Cast over the sea and cast over the moon
She'll be reading the stars
After reading the runes.....
Green shades, dappled sunlight
The landscapes of the eye
A life passing by
Music lacks the primal scream
It is more than it seems...
Sunday 25th November 2018 2:35 pm
never-ever seen one
of these newmen
are they like newts only longer
or do they lack semen
anyway I've never seen 'em
newmen: what do they do
take their kids to see the oldmen at the zoo,
go to work when they don't want to
spend all their time and all their money with their children
is a newman always young
never tired, knackered, crotchety
is a ne...
Saturday 24th November 2018 10:18 pm
The clock ticks so slowly, my mind spins so fast
Imaginings hover just out of reach, how long can a minute last?
01.32: A dialogue in my mind as I try, fruitlessly, to unwind. Imagine if I could send you a screen-shot. A screen-shot of my mind. I'd save all these words. No. It'd be absurd. You'd need a screen-shot of time.
01.48: I'm going to oversleep, I'm going to be late.Tick-tock. Ti...
Friday 23rd November 2018 2:14 am
Neglected places and anxious faces:
Cut off from the swing of London life
Just as the hidden chambers of the psyche
Are cut off, isolated from consciousness.
In the old Jewish quarter of Whitechapel,
Lived a hermit who vanished from his room
Above the Princelet Street synagogue.
This room revealed documents encrusted with Kabbalistic symbols.
Books written in Sumerian, A...
Wednesday 21st November 2018 10:02 pm
Shifting shades afflict the ghost of David Rodinsky
As he returns to his room in Whitechapel, London
For one last look at the Aramaic and Hebrew texts
Which provided him with the hex of disappearance.
Where he came from nobody knows. Was he Jewish?
Yes and no. Was he British? Who knows? Not he.
Certainly he lived there once: ate, slept defecated
Wednesday 21st November 2018 9:03 pm
I want to smell the tender roses,
Before their petals droop and fall
In that one garden in St Petersburg
The most beautiful city in holy Russia
In the whole world this city stands out
There statues will remember me when I was young
And I remember them all under the river Neva.
In the fragrant silence between the Tsars and Putin
I have changed form
No longer a young woman...
Tuesday 20th November 2018 10:24 pm
In this country there is sometimes a fierce hurricane
This easily destroys that which has taken generations to create
All things move towards dispersal
Trees must be covered with mustard seeds
I say it as a storm approaches.
Tonight the cheerless autumn moon
Shines on us all good or ill
Some people are enthralled by definitions of hurricanes
But others conceal secret...
Tuesday 20th November 2018 9:58 pm
To say two things in saying one
The wind churns the lake
Into an interlocking frenzy
Of burnished grey metal
Ibn 'Ammar will seize my girl's glance
And in Arabic poetry forge a full romance
Out of burnished skin and pliable gold.
What a fine day this has turned out
To be. Her eyes would melt metal and forge
Attachments that tempt time and freeze the
Lemon trees. Hearts...
Monday 19th November 2018 11:03 pm
Goodbye my Sufi lovers and friends
Nothing exists now to connect you to me
Tayyar is honourable and full of good intent
I rise from the trap of the world
I ask you to be my servant in paradise
You are my dancer, I am your poet.
On some days I taste the rain-drift-clouds
When you sew I watch you and fall in love
Again I remember our first meeting
Amongst the sweet smell o...
Sunday 18th November 2018 9:34 pm
Who controls the past controls the future.
An anonymous red army soldier,
With a slightly Asiatic glint to his eye
At the gates of Auschwitz,
Said 'This was why we fought
The fascists so hard at Stalingrad.'
And hard, it certainly was.
1.8–2 million killed, wounded or captured
On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched
A two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanians ...
Saturday 17th November 2018 1:17 am
As we, again, set sail for Byzantium
Have spent 500 years wiping out
Every trace of our 1500 year occupancy here
Our voyage will be a long one
Full of adventure, full of discovery.
Covering much time and space
Yeats set out but never arrived
His spirits flagged:
But St Sophia waits!
Surrounded as it is by minarets
Friday 16th November 2018 11:51 pm
The wind is vicious, cutting through this January night
Slicing like a knife through my meagre clothes.
Signs on the road are hidden by an iron fog
The cry of the wind is all in vain.
I kiss you across a black hole in time.
In the old be-jewelled spider-webbed
Frost-filled graveyard, the dead remain
The same: yew trees are shadowed against the moon.
No trembling now from th...
Friday 16th November 2018 10:06 pm
The old pub on the corner lost beneath a motorway junction; stands
in a similitude of snow now. Its windows are gone the way
Of the church spire from whence the müezzin calls a different faithful to prayer
The bronze statue of an eminent Victorian child abuser
Glowers over what was once his property, his factory, his people
There is wet snow in the air....
Thursday 15th November 2018 8:25 pm
Complain with the full force of a Jesuit priest
Whine like a man who knows he's out of time
Casuistry and sophistry
In perfect harmony.
But poetry's more about wine than whine
More about seeking to express the inexpressible
Than complaining about how difficult it is.
A true poet makes the difficult easy
Can turn water into wine in a half-truncated line
Tuesday 13th November 2018 10:59 pm
A whole life spent out of kilter
When every day is out of whack
So when the storm hit
And the lights went kerflooey
I was ill-prepared.
There is no going back
And if a little dreaming is dangerous,
Is the cure to dream more?
Well, I wish you were here: that's for sure.
On a sad, autumn day
When all the words that ever were
Just drained away
Leaving me aghast,...
Tuesday 13th November 2018 10:05 pm
The middle of May
A day, like any other,
Sad tonight, she is
The silvery moon
An empty tree-house passes
For a black shadow
Shh! Today the rooks gather
Blackly gather around telephone poles
Alfred Hitchcock is not directly responsible for
This beautiful May day
Maybe, Ariel or Prospero or Caliban
Sunday 11th November 2018 8:51 pm
Siegfried Loraine Sassoon, CBE, MC
An Anglo-Jewish volunteer - did his patriotic duty
Joined up on 4th August 1914
He was one of the First World War’s greatest poets;
A fearless soldier who won the Military Cross for bravery,
The citation read:
For conspicuous gallantry during a raid on the enemy's trenches.
He remained for 1½ hours under rifle and bomb fire
Sunday 11th November 2018 5:30 pm
At the pomana - the death feast - I missed him most
But I am relieved to know that under the stars of this cold, pellucid night
The ghost of the gypsy soldier is not without a home
No Romany man can live alone, our women are not alone
We carry our home in our hearts, our women wear topaz and dance
No, we will never-ever part: the man I killed is part of my family
Saturday 10th November 2018 12:57 am
the advice is still
to take another route
some writing is not about something
it is something:
like first we feel
then we fall
under the shadow of the shelter of trees
where we listen to the birds
lizzzen to these bees
who scrape a living
in the unacred blue
trees can do wonders too.....
haloed be her eve,
her singtime ...
Friday 9th November 2018 6:05 pm
“I done me best when I was let out
Oh yes I did: whistle-blowin, liftin the lid
I think I always knowed it'd go wrong
Nuffin fer a laugh, nuffin fer a song
A hundred seas could separate you
From me, our sea of troubles,
Fear death by drownin
Or one in a thousand years of nights
Will parcel me up and remove me from sight
The cubby-hole under the stairs
Was for wettin t...
Thursday 8th November 2018 9:48 pm
All Souls and All Saints
At the Moravian church
With its memories Of Jan Hus
And all those Hussites burnt at the stake
For believing differently.
Meanwhile somewhere in England
Fireworks like blood red poppies
Explode like nebulas of stars
Descending into the black hole of suburbia
A tang of smoke clings to our clothes.
Elsewhere a veneer of dusty history sparkle...
Wednesday 7th November 2018 10:08 pm
These long, black evenings fill with premonitions
The falling of the leaves remind us of our losses
Captain Wilfred Owen killed in action during the crossing of the Sambre–Oise Canal
One week (almost to the hour) before the signing of the Armistice
Such terrifying bloomings of a malignant fate force us back into caves
We dream of warmth, food, sleep
In a blue-haze
Monday 5th November 2018 9:56 pm