Poetry Blog by John E Marks
Like a swimmer driven by a whirlpool of distress, Without a morsel of hope, lampooned by regret,
In a storm of my own making; beseiged by clouds;
I hide. Adamantly anchored to a despair, twenty fathoms wide
I'm riven by the whirlwind of my observable distress;
Starving and alone, my anchor is the live-long day and yet, and yet, I fade away.
Dressed in a black haze: dappled sunli...
Tuesday 12th November 2019 9:25 pm
Than the regiment of day
Can drift my head away
Back to the cancer hospital
To the chemo and the radio
And injections in the vein
Thank God it didn’t enter
My brain. It’s your loved
Ones take the strain.
I remember Emile, yes,
Named after Rousseau’s
Eponymous hero. He hoped
It had not spread. Married
At the weekend, h...
Sunday 10th November 2019 11:58 pm
Beneath this beach of sand and shells
I see the image of the rolling sea.
Such new-found-land frames and hides
These wide horizons; I walk along the cliff:
Sheer drop upon the windward side,
Embedded trilobites, beneath my feet
Quartz and Muscovite from the granite
Weathered by the winds and waves
Sea-formed outcrops, hidden rocks, caves.
Time carves the face of all mank...
Sunday 10th November 2019 9:05 pm
My hesitancy has bothered me for a long time
It is not the cruelty of children that angers me
But that my hesitation to commit the word to air
And, aye, maybe, to the heart, was treated as an affliction
By those with the polished shoes and starched aprons which set them apart;
Sometimes I was not even there when they mocked me but I knew...
Sunday 10th November 2019 11:22 am
These fingers point at letters
Those letters point at words
And then the disturbance -
My love she was a vixen
And howled in the night
Those feelings they just left me -
The mourning which continues
Throughout decades, in a line,
My lover she engages me -
These swirling skies of fortune,
The lakes’ grey and white despair...
Saturday 9th November 2019 11:42 pm
In England's fields few poppies grow, Chemical fertilisers have seen to that The land is still owned by the same fey aristocrats Who’ve plundered and marauded for untold centuries. On the slivers of common land that remain The common sparrows still bravely sing, Scarce heard amid the empty political posturing. No-one listens to the Glorious Dead. Lip service only. Instead, if ...
Saturday 9th November 2019 8:06 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
Saturday 9th November 2019 1:34 am
The guest was uninvited but arrived anyway
In this universe of moulding, he is the clay.
The freezing blizzard of my heart departs
As I look out of my window into this universe of things
And, for a micro-second, my wounded heart sings
With love and with the lack of love,
With all we seek to find
With memories buried in
This golgotha mind of mine.
I am no different, thoug...
Friday 8th November 2019 11:30 pm
Do you really want to sit there on the 21st floor
Mixing matches, making matchstick men to bore
Your friends witless as you, once again, tell the tale.
Of when you once went north, further than Watford vale,
I know you never doubt yourself, my rhyming cavalier,
But a little word of warning in your shell-like ear:
Waiting for promotion to SW3?
Waiting for the loss-adjustors, to...
Thursday 7th November 2019 9:16 pm
(This poem is dedicated to the beautifully lyrical music of rapture and redemption which this young Californian, Judee Sill, 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 ...
Thursday 7th November 2019 2:34 pm
It is the year's midnight, the old gods have gone to ground,
Their acolytes burnt, stretched upon the rack, hung, drowned.
For century after century the druid - the knowing of the oak -
Was driven out of place, trapped and yoked.
Walk with me in the freezing mist of a December night - don't be squeamish, don't take fright -
See this land under the moon's milky light:
The yew tree...
Thursday 7th November 2019 12:32 pm
Tell the truth, but tell it slant. Emily Dickinson
Born, bloom, die
All in the one day
Blur a glass darkly,
A physician’s proof of death,
Marked by a girlhood’s fleeting fancy,
A garden romance
A moonlit dance
With Chopin playing lightly
And no rectangular wooden box
To be seen.
Instead a thing with feathers...
Wednesday 6th November 2019 9:52 pm
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
On early shift.
This connection, now, is
Deep in my blood
Deep in what I mean
When I say words
In tones that rhyme.
Wednesday 6th November 2019 10:48 am
O! daughter dear, on this mid-western afternoon,
When I can see all the way to Sacramento, I cry
For you, Ariel-blue, in all your golden-girlhood
Too lovely for a life of pettiness and strife were
You. You caught a boat to England, never returned.
No Nazi goblin me, an extraordinary Jew like you,
Beautifully clever Ariel-blue. And, maybe I didn’t talk
To you like I yearned...
Tuesday 5th November 2019 11:06 pm
For those who know and know how much they still don't know. Bloodfever
I remember falling as a child
And being lifted by a faerie-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
Tuesday 5th November 2019 8:52 pm
A rose garden at altitude under occupation
dormant in mid-winter
I picture the rose garden in spring
as the secret garden of my soul
where all that is good and all that is fine
are written in a tender-script divine
where persian berries tantalise the taste
and the morning prayer bells undulate
the breakfast figs are fine
as is the watery wine
and these chinese herbs...
Sunday 3rd November 2019 11:34 am
soft and steady rhythm of a baby
her gaze which tells you all you need to know
her footsteps tender in the snow
the pitter-patter blast of rain upon a window
considering all we do not know
or understand, we stand hand-in-hand
under this beautiful harvest moon
Sunday 3rd November 2019 12:52 am
The times of wonder have gone
The wise women drugged
Forensic psychology reveals traces
Of long-forgotten faces
Which, much like Munch's silent scream,
Degenerate into nightmaredream.
Desire, in all its lurid manifestations,
Falls into disuse,
And all is as it was before:
A flat, grey concrete floor
Krema I at Auschwitz
Sunday 3rd November 2019 12:33 am
Snow... lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
The Dead, Dubliners, James Joyce
Yes, paralysis of the heart
Involves a continuing lack of...
Friday 1st November 2019 9:29 pm
The last decade before the big three score
and ten. Best to keep on the move, evolving then?
A rolling stone gathers no moss, they say; not in
Keith's head, anyway. Soon it will be the freezing season
With all those greens and reds – the hollies and the ivy
and the grateful dead. The starship could fly us, fly us clean away,
But most of us are yard birds, creatures of home, I’d ...
Friday 1st November 2019 5:16 pm
That long-held sax note- divine
Makes my soul jus drift away
The smoke, the booze, the horse,
The girls. Sum o'them, thin agen.
Man, the flash of the crack o'th drum
The thumpity, thumpity, thump.
He jus stand there in a haze
John's soprano sax, Miles' trumpet
Blowin the blues. All the way To Missisip
All the way to me cryin in a ditch.
Those weary, weary blues. No ...
Wednesday 30th October 2019 11:13 pm
Circumstances compel me speak
Ye gods, (for you have them);
From the first of the world
Down to our own time
Don’t frown, don’t shake your head,
Listen to this elegy for a passing time instead.,
A soldier silenced, banned, expelled, made dead.
While life continues, makes the crops no longer joyous.
The sheep forgot, the cattle, bees unkept.
Be thrifty with ...
Wednesday 30th October 2019 9:49 pm
These long, black evenings fill me 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,
A godless irony, force us back into our centrally heated caves.
We dream on...
Tuesday 29th October 2019 3:29 pm
As we draw close to Remembrance Sunday and all the praising of the armed services I wrote this to show how we really treat those who risked their lives to protect us.
Baffling how he came to be a pauper, he thought,
An ex-serviceman, me, still with an upright back.
Thing is: I never really arrived home. Did I?.
Not a real home. Everything had changed.
Belfast, The Falklan...
Monday 28th October 2019 11:01 pm
Those words you don’t remember,
Wind tearing through the sky,
Your soul is packed with fortitude
While sparks fly.
The coals flare into flames, a pettiness
Of heat. Suddenly, replete: golden sands,
Crystal brooks, silken lines, silver hooks.
Glimpsing what’s already there,
She begins to mount the stairs.
Say, a friend you trust implicitly,
A lover you migh...
Sunday 27th October 2019 2:18 pm
Memories bring me just diamonds and rust
Though time's chasm opens before my sight,
And the vertigo returns with the Lapis Lazuli,
I will devote some time to resurrecting the lived poetry
Of the Byzantimes, Persians, Armenians, Assyrians.
Each civilization alloted supreme value to the blue of lapis lazuli.
Lapis lazuli was used in the funeral mask of Tutankhamun ...
Sunday 27th October 2019 12:21 am
The blue is missing from the sky today
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 it is.
I remember playing out
with my sisters
on a skipping rope.
It is cold inside,
that lady told me it is morning,
that is why I stretch and yawn.
The lady said I had a visitor
i was frightene...
Saturday 26th October 2019 6:32 pm
I walk a steep and slippery way,
Mixing senses is synaesthsia's way,
It seems as if I am a chorus in a play.
We feel by measure, hidden from the eye
Time is borrowed, blue days wasted, leant,
I walk along this steep and scattered way.
Winter seeps me into sleep, as my soul flies,
The gist of an art unborrowed from time or tide;
I learn by going, where I have to go, inside.
Saturday 26th October 2019 6:16 pm
The sky is grey today with streaks of blue
Swirling northern skies 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 p...
Friday 25th October 2019 8:01 pm
“Without music, life would be a mistake” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
A waterfall of notes, rising, descending,
Splashing into my mind, heart, soul.
Music will never grow old.
An arpeggio series of broken chords
In and out of order, splintering, teasing the ear.
Plunging into minor keys, soaring into waves of luminosity.
Friday 25th October 2019 6:57 pm
"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me." Martin Niemoller.
Friday 25th October 2019 7:04 am
I made close friends on WOL
Rachel, Devon, David, Jacob,
Poets of enormous scope and range,
Silenced for their free expression,
Is that a good thing? Whatcha reckon?
Thursday 24th October 2019 10:26 pm
She's the flinger of plurabilly teas,
She was, once-upon-a-golden-time;
And a good time it was two,
Despite the old hairy gobeen man,
Who was a-coming down a road,
drinking from a can.
She met a nice-uns-little boy name Baby Tookoo,
Her mother slopped her drat story.
Her rather had a leery face:
Sin, sin, Jesuitical-sin...
Thursday 24th October 2019 11:59 am
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” TS Eliot
Every day, regardless of the goodness or evil lurking in my soul,
I see kipper skies, placid blue occasionally, but much more
Like the swirling, crashing skies of Turner, like the flaming skies the young Mozart
Saw in his mind's eye, when he was adding
Note to eloquent note to produce t...
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 11:43 pm
(for Kathy 1940–2019)
She was close to death —
her loved ones bereft.
I read between the lines,
just a habit of mind,
then looked again,
out of the side of my eye:
more and more, as time passes by
what we perceive
Buried in the earth,
she's still looking at the sky,
a rumble of thunder,
Wednesday 23rd October 2019 12:13 pm
Dripping into what passes for daylight
In these northern climes,
The moon fades, wind and rain shower,
Trees sway, on this formless holiday
Light, such as it is, tucks away dream,
Children — washed, tired, pale -
Know it’s Halloween
I know it well:
Tired ghosts forget to rise again,
Witches stagger into view
As all their magic fades away.
Clogged motors roar
As the October mist l...
Tuesday 22nd October 2019 10:07 pm
County Lines spread
A cross all the living and the dead
Their line is our time
We need them, fled.
A spring day in late fall,
She can no longer stand
Tall, crumpled, bent,
She has lost the lines that link
Her to her family, friends.
Now lines link:
Road, rail, phone,
Needle, plunger, sink
into an unguarded atonement.
Her lines enmeshed in this stinki...
Monday 21st October 2019 5:33 pm
dedicated to the men and women of the Syrian Defence force, and the Kurdish YPG, who, with the help of volunteers from around the world, defeated Daesh and are now seeking to defend the feminist and democratic Kurdistan from NATO-supported Fascist-Turkish genocidal murderers and rapists
My parents were Christian, Serb,
I remember the icons in my mother’s house,
The smell of meat on...
Sunday 20th October 2019 1:12 am
Absinthe, this pearly-white,
Clouded, aniseed-tasting drink
Stinks but is addictive, especially
Here in Paris on the left-bank,
Where the Institut is
Where we plan, conspire,
Work out who is the traitor
Who the informer, who the liar.
Anyway, I am always thirsty for absinthe.
I am always thirsty for wine too
To the extent of our boundless, limited e...
Sunday 20th October 2019 12:50 am
Out of all this mush,
With a little bit of a push,
Emerge fire fly.
O! fly so high firefly,
Illuminate the sky, firefly
Take a break, firefly;
Phosphorescence on the lake,
Float over the image of moon,
The lapping of the lake
Firefly, a soft-bodied beetle,
Firefly, related to the glow-worm,
The winged male and flightless female
Both have luminesce...
Friday 18th October 2019 7:31 pm
Kurdish poets with military experience have fallen silent and I am bereft;
Poetry has always been the main pillar of Kurdish literature
The fight for their land and the fight for their identity are the same.
The Kurds are not divorced from the west - Eliot's influence on al-Sayyab for example -
And the hot wave from Arabia did not destroy the Kurds, many are Christian, Ezedi and secul...
Wednesday 16th October 2019 11:13 pm
I wish she knew from the very start
Which mountain the sun came from
For your eyes can be deceiving in rain
Fountains are rain corralled and I'm tempted
Into sleeping on your neck. A servitude of roses.
In which green bay and the rolling sea spy on me
That's deep, but it aint at all clear. Like seawater,
Lagoons on tropical Islands are lost on me.
Kind of like a fantasy.
I wish you a...
Monday 14th October 2019 11:47 pm
The cold autumn rain falls full in my face,
wet westerlies come with a trace of winter;
as I walk, I take account of my losses.
My mind drifts into the past:
a phantasmagoria of well-remembered faces
tumble into the valley of the shadow of death.
Phantoms afloat, all around me, looking quizzically
at the remains of a life long left or soonest parted.
The trees of this woodl...
Sunday 13th October 2019 2:31 pm
Winter on Mount Sinjar in 2014,
By the Christian calendar.
That year lasted forever:
Such a long, long time ago,
Now the Turks have come
To do the work of Daesh
And the Sunni tribes and foreign Salafists
Conspire to kill the Yezedi, even in Lalish,
Our mouths expel a hidden heat
It is the soul of the Ezedi.
Never before has the sun
Filled us so full of tea...
Friday 11th October 2019 10:12 pm
Walking down a dusty, dirt road in Rojava,
near the border.
Sand in my mouth, tears on my cheek.
NATO jets flying under Turkish colours,
bombing, massacring, the soldiers of the Syrian Defence Forces
and their internationalist Kurdish YPG allies —
a modern International Brigade.
SDF forces are now, this minute, pulling soldiers (Kurdish, Arab, American, British, Serbian, ...
Friday 11th October 2019 9:26 pm
Planet earth she suffers
Torn at by your knife,
Slashed at by machete
Exploited all your life.
Poisoned by your chemicals
Murdered, raped and pillaged
Consider the obscenity -
The whole world is just one village.
But you really ain't bothered, are you?
You've got your money in the bank
You own your slice of heaven
You're comfortably numb, to be frank.
Wednesday 9th October 2019 10:30 pm
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for? Robert Browning,"Andrea del Sarto", line 98, 1855.
Kicking off his work boots on a day of gooseberry bushes and old Daily Heralds
Jack's eyes slowly rose from the mess of laces squirming around his fingers,
(memories of the front, the hot metal of the gun, lingering);
His eyes rose up, past the dresser, bless...
Tuesday 8th October 2019 11:45 pm
David always told the truth to me
and, of course, we argued endlessly
about what, exactly, was 'true':
both working class self-taught autodidacts,
what would you expect us to do?
I continued to learn a lot from David's poetry too
Until his mighty verses were expunged from view.
David told me the precise name and location
Of a church in ancient Antioch,
In war-torn Syria ...
Tuesday 8th October 2019 9:28 pm
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 we looked at the ducks,
And the weeping willow tree was there:
Reflected in your eyes,
A subtle disguise,
I dropped words into your ears
Sunday 6th October 2019 10:53 pm
The Gracehoper was always jigging ajog, hoppy on akkant of his joyicity.
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
Complain with the full force of a Jesuit priest
Whine like a man who knows he's out of time
Casuistry and sophistry work together perfectly.
But poetry's more about the wine than the whining
About seeking to express the inexpressible
Whilst complaining about just how dif...
Thursday 3rd October 2019 8:58 pm