Poetry Blog by John E Marks
Tags from last 12 months
From the towering shadows of cloud
A flash of the evening star, a gap through
To the star above the vaulted sky: high so very high,
And faraway, high windows allot a view
Of pinpricks in the blackness. Stars await
Their conversion to black holes of dense
Compact immensity. Swallow you whole they could
Spit you out before you were born. Still water
Reflects the stars. Cont...
Friday 25th September 2020 12:00 am
Colours blend in a staccato of sound. Synaesthesia's all around.
Underground: a steepling slide into unconsciousness.
Mixing senses, genders, dreams, moulding the male, it seems,
In this hat-trick-hubris-chit-chat mode women don’t grow old.
Poets bleed, speak-in-tongues, fiddle with their fingers, long
To compose the lyrics of a song.
Pain is ...
Wednesday 23rd September 2020 10:21 pm
The grave was so full [of other burila], that the uppermost coffin was within a few feet of the surface. The grave-digger shovelled in the earth; stamped it loosely down with his feet: shouldered his spade; and walked off, followed by the boys, who murmured very loud complaints at the fun being over so soon. 'Oliver Twist', Charlie Dickens.
Flies buzz around the ground, again, that clangin...
Monday 21st September 2020 11:08 pm
Iraq's Christians 'close to extinction' after 2000 years.
The British fell on the Somme, Verdun, Passchendaele,
Their luckier cousins long ago set off across the broad Atlantic
Convicts moved straight on to the antipodes
To the Swan River of Western Australia
Convict scum of the East End born to live again.
The ragged Scots, after Culloden
So many Irish everywhere in the Empire
Friday 18th September 2020 11:02 pm
You are my moment, as you read
Your eyes are full of tact, unembarrassed, laughing
And my dream is just of continuing.
We cannot add up or divide words, as we can numbers,
Yet, humans can be equally intractable.
Friends die in the blinking of an eye.
You cannot eat your words
Nor can you précis feelings
But we can certainly stretch the truth
At a blooming, with our first tooth,
Or at o...
Wednesday 16th September 2020 11:13 pm
Some people worship reason. So many more worship money. Even more worship themselves.
Fly past those nets. Race. Nationality. Religion. Hang me by the neck
But only if I ever, ever, get free of that bloody penguin.
♥ Ways of seeing things: nature is so beautiful. Is she in love with herself? She was. Now she cries
As dust motes settle and breathing becomes slower and heavier and less...
Tuesday 15th September 2020 2:11 pm
Love and l are gentle
As dust motes fly
And sparkle in the air
Of a rare day in Florence.
It is September and already
The cornflowers fade. Grain
Laid up in store on the road to Pisa.
All things are one thing on this day
I heard Dante Alighieri say.
You and I must continue to be gentle.
The old man says the rent is not paid
Rent poses no problem but to be without y...
Tuesday 15th September 2020 12:16 am
We read 'Arbeit macht frei'
That terrible lie
For Jewish eyes
The gates of hell.
Monday 14th September 2020 12:43 pm
Where we drift and call it dreaming
We can weep and call it singing. Iron & Wine.
Now, I'm old and going grey
It's surely time to put dreams away.
Really! That surprises me..
I'd have thought
That as I've nought to lose,
And really do not mind, at all,
If I'm called a fool.
I'll stick with dreams;
So thanks, but
Immediately, and without delay,
Let me dream
If only for this ...
Saturday 12th September 2020 9:46 pm
In a world without compassion,
In a world of continuing AI,
No ripples come from a stone unthrown,
In the blink of a human eye.
No ripples come from the dumb
Unwritten blank slates of some
Tabula Rasa of Clones
Lying under their bones.
Colourless, without scent, designed but never meant
Decidely, not, heaven-sent, a cycle of life abated.
An ill-fated sojou...
Friday 11th September 2020 7:08 am
The silk road into Macclesfield,
These sundry stops, and stinks,
This rising into fury
The sinking into think.
This edge of trees and wildings
This glazing of the sun
The spreading stench of wolverine,
Missy Moon beneath the Sun,
This stink of flesh uneaten
This rising up of love
This game of death and stillness
This sighing of the dove
The beginning of the end,
Tuesday 8th September 2020 10:43 pm
Words seem to be without meaning.
Genocide bears a human face. A human heart. I cannot part with my half-secret, hungry heart. I crossed the broad Atlantic to Americky but left my heart in Ireland, in a village churchyard by the sea.
Warehouses stuffed with grain in Bristol. We suffered the potato blight. Starvation in plain sight. Walking skeletons. Families dumped out on the road by land...
Monday 7th September 2020 11:09 pm
A Trappist monk told me, with his eyes -
Disguise what you know in an image of the eyes
Of a walking - talking human corpse,
Or of flowers, pretty, of differing sorts.
People will spend hours,
Literally hours, to unravel the conceit; to invent
Some nefarious connection that'll let
Them smile at their deep - down
We know it's a Fiction designed to ...
Sunday 6th September 2020 11:14 pm
This rose for all the world for you
These tears for all the dead,
Those empty words of morningtide
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 invades the room.
Friday 4th September 2020 10:41 pm
Missing the wildness of my younger self
I degenerate into words. Waiting, between
sentences, for the muse to catch up with me,
I fulminate, flash like lightning, explode;
So that I catch myself thinking this
Is all an act to compensate for the time
Brian climbed that tree before disappearing
To Japan, for all eternity. O! I wish Haiku was true.
An apple blossom flash of inspiration
Friday 4th September 2020 2:55 pm
"The last of your kisses was even the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest.”
Letters, John Keats to Fanny Brawne
His headstone verses were not writ in water,
They merely draw the eye unto the fact of death.
Bereft are the lines that love-and-only-love remembers.
All he knew was the deepest blue of sky
In this one woman’s eyes. Love was ...
Thursday 3rd September 2020 12:16 am
Days of stormy autumn come
Mother, child, brother, son;
Memories, like dust, infect my eyes,
Swirling, like a Turner sky,
Land, sky, water, ripple by.
Like water under wind,
I begin to sing
Mixing grays and blacks and whites and blues,
With guitar chords to pull us through.
Chiaroscuro skies, tussling these monochromes
Into a piebald heavens...
Monday 31st August 2020 9:43 pm
Regardless of friendship — you and I cannot leave; I will not part from you tonight — that is too hard. A long night with a hangover: thick heart ache, sermons upon manners and morals delivered to thyself by thyself. Thank God it will soon be over. Latif was kind and brought the executioner to meet me and we spent some time together. He, like me, is a Suf...
Sunday 30th August 2020 10:43 pm
"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
After the war and the Spanish flu
When I came back from Oxford,
To America, looking for you,
I was met...
Friday 28th August 2020 9:35 pm
Hedd Wyn was a Welsh-language poet who was killed on the second day of the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I. He was posthumously awarded the bard’s chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod.
The magic of Hedd’s aspiration of youth….
an elixir only the young can truly taste ….
but this old man can.
When a late summer breeze blows from the south and west,
catch, in the very air itself,...
Thursday 27th August 2020 3:50 pm
How clear, now, the brightime sky of youth
How lovely-fair that pursuit of an eternal truth.
Those sunbeams of our morning life's clarity
Laugh out, now, with a truly thoughless charity
That sets free a man longchained to violence
Appalled at vicious crimes performed in silence.
Evil soars through these dimming days of hope.
As we see the world slide down the slippery slope:
Tuesday 25th August 2020 10:53 pm
It’ll take the breath clean away from you
When you think the implications through.
Tabula Rasa: a complerely blank slate:
No memory, no desire, nothing too soon, nothing too late
Nothing to bend you in any direction,
Nothing to send you lower or raise your expectations.
No future envisaged, no secret desire. A blank slate.
No prescience required concerning the future
Saturday 22nd August 2020 11:08 pm
When you go home, tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow... We gave our today...
Eighty years ago, on August 18th 1940, the hardest day,
A twenty year old, pilot set out upon a mission, from which he never returned (His remains were recovered, which was not always the case, fire saw to that.)
Born eleven years before his sister, he'd had ...
Thursday 20th August 2020 9:25 pm
Morning maniac music
Shakes me awake
Those who brought hope
Now mired in hate.
Over the mountains
clouds scud away,
blood on the floor
not fade away.
Blood over the water,
blood over the seas
lots of poor people
down on their knees.
collapsed from within,
In our hearts,
Nothing but sin,
Rotted from within...
Wednesday 19th August 2020 1:16 pm
Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev was a Soviet sniper during World War II. Between 10 November 1942 and 17 December 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, he killed 225 enemy soldiers, including 11 SS snipers
Who controls the past controls the future:
Said an anonymous red army soldier,
With a slightly Asiatic glint to his eye,
Just like Vasily, at the ...
Sunday 16th August 2020 8:45 pm
(for Tom, with love)
So scared tonight, he made me feel as helpless
As I am. He’s looking at me as I write
Cataracts on his eyes, panting. Fear. No disguise.
The fear he feels at the strangeness of the universe,
The inexplicability of life. The Thunder....
But he knows I love him and he takes heart
As I tempt him into a cave under my desk
And Yes! He has finally settled down –
Friday 14th August 2020 11:08 pm
When sadnesses besiege me,
At the dying of the light,
And starlight illuminates,
The ending of the day,
Then fractious star-crossed lovers
Just quietly drift away.
We sigh silently, out of sight
Of mirrors, water, eyes, light,
And find, momentarily,
Man loses his disguise.
We spin and whirl and dance,
Like hemlock in the hay;
We are Witch, W...
Thursday 13th August 2020 10:42 pm
That early April morn, dewy and cool,
Charlie was still lunging on the leash
As we walked up Quaker bridge towards the field.
Charlie was born wise: he did not suffer fools gladly.
How he put up with me, God alone knows. Anyroadup,
This memorable morning Charlie fulfilled
His 'retriever' appellation - he brought a ball back with a flourish of his tail and with great aplomb. Ton...
Wednesday 12th August 2020 12:22 pm
He was paralysed for much of his life
Trapped by indecision, he searched for the chimera
Of stability, of security.
He did not commit many crimes
But sometimes, after work,
His hand became covered with poetry.
All that he expected was undone:
His marriages crumbled
His family dispersed
All the expected epics and rhapsodies of his life:
In his childhood, he had expec...
Monday 10th August 2020 9:12 pm
Between these walls we spend our time
Forming words we turn to rhyme.
Glimpsing glimmers held close in mind,
Closing over the gatden door,
Mumbling, pleading 'what is life for?'
Something's left, without a roof,
Hinting at a deeper truth?
Something quick, or something slow?
Rhymes with rumblings, swirls below.
We see the stars, beyond the sky,
So many stars that pass us by,
Sunday 9th August 2020 5:07 pm
“Christian, Jew, Muslim, Shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the mystery, unique and not to be judged”― Jalal ad-Din Rumi
Like imagination is to the poet
This, this, is in the centre of my heart.
You bathe my wounds with words, ointment, kisses
You have the key to the door that is always closed
You want me to stick to simple stories ...
Friday 7th August 2020 9:51 pm
Tall, stooped, a quintessentially English presence. I listen to how those flat Fenland vowels swirl into melodies melded with the staccato RP of Cambridge.
So many minor key explorations of sadness; pull at the scabs of loneliness and regret. Your songs made plangent by the melancholic timbre of your voice. Your abiding mood irresolution, your secret regret. A troubadour of old.
You don't ha...
Thursday 6th August 2020 11:20 pm
Six years since the latest round of genocide against the Yezedi people began
That murderous monstrous onslaught
Upon the peaceful Yezedi people, for the crime
Of following their own religion and culture
That has been in Mesopotamia since before
The crucifixion in Jerusalem and since before the hot wind
Of intolerance blew up from the scorching sands of Arabia.
Wednesday 5th August 2020 11:47 pm
He gotta beat box,
In his beating heart,
Beats it out, on guitar,
Tears him apart.
Monday 3rd August 2020 11:07 pm
WHO, when I scream, will hear me?
Maybe an angel? Or, a man of firmer regulation?
That’s the chance you take with screaming.
Could I put myself in the shoes of s/he
Who hears a scream at close quarters?
I fear not. It would take a leap of the heart
Which is beyond my means. Nobody comes to mind.
Nobody suddenly comes into my heart:
I pass into this stronger existence.
In this ancient ho...
Sunday 2nd August 2020 8:33 pm
We learned more from a 3-minute record, baby, Than we ever learned in school. Bruce Springsteen
No surrender to the glib complacent,
The shielders, and the worried-well,
Those for whom life is 'simply hell.'
Those who measure out their life
In coffee spoons, when everything
Is too late or too soon. Let's call out
Those who conduct their life on zoom,
Who assume a mask will protect t...
Friday 31st July 2020 9:51 pm
"If you're feeling sad, just remember that the world is over four billion years old and yet you managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie."
In the Apple Market
Your south London twang,
Accompanied the many undulations
Your wild androgyny
Mirrored the mirror
David Bowie, name bought off the shelf.
Now, skimming the water
Like a dog sha...
Wednesday 29th July 2020 10:12 pm
Abbeförderung ('dispatching, removal') – euphemism for mass murder.
The air that kills, miasmic fogs
Disperse the pollutions of the past
Into the ever-present
Nothing lasts, they say.
Fasts, self-denying ordnances,
All the ferocities
Of religion, ideology
Do not matter a jot.
Mortality is our lot.
So, listen to the beautiful airs of music,
Be tolerant of unforeseen strictures of f...
Tuesday 28th July 2020 5:18 pm
Droplets, flicked off the waving trees, Shower me with wet. The abundant trees Full-throated bastions of wet in the nest. The birds are soaked but cheerfully quiet Their breeding has been done, fledglings Scattering raindrops as they show off Their wings. I look on bedraggled, envious. Rain is such a comfort on these crowded Isl...
Monday 27th July 2020 10:44 pm
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 ear, even 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
What they did and ‘never-a-bother-it-was-to-me’.
But it was, I was...
Saturday 25th July 2020 12:31 am
Near is very far
There’s a vastness that appals
Of the Christie, this Monday morning
Meeting Emile, yes, named after Jean Jacque’s eponymous hero.
Married at the weekend, it has spread,
He fears he’ll soon be dead.
His Caribbean lilt
Friday 24th July 2020 11:58 pm
Morning rain soaks my clothes, my hair, my skin,
I do not care. I am not there.
I stare at the mortar between the crumbling bricks in this old
Wall built by the calloused hands of men who’d survived
The Somme. Who’d been called ‘dirty scabs’
In 1929 by striking Salford dockers. They’d hung their heads in shame
But they’d had mouths to feed. They’d taken any work they could obtai...
Thursday 23rd July 2020 10:38 pm
The ease and simple grace
Of this man who’s died
Cannot be lied about
Cannot be denied.
His echoing presence
Still sings in my head
Still sings in my heart
We’re never alone, never apart
Like the mocking bird’s song:
These mimus polyglottos,
Speakers of a hidden art,
Which sings and recreates
Moments that survive
When we were all alive.
Oh! it’s a sin to kill a mocking bird
Thursday 23rd July 2020 12:48 am
Words you don’t remember,
Winds rising in the sky,
Your soul, I poke with fortitude,
Coals flare into pettiness
Heat, suddenly, replete, golden sands,
Crystal brooks, silken lines, silver hooks.
Glimpsing what’s already there,
I begin to mount the stairs.
A friend you trust implicitly,
Wednesday 22nd July 2020 10:00 pm
Think you’re escaping and run into yourself.
Longest way round is the shortest way home.
T’was the night before Christmas,
It was dark and cold and dreary.
Coal fires were alight on a cold, black night
For lettered, and unlettered, alike
The young woman broke free from the asylum
suffering from stress, post natal depression,
and an untold, fearful anxiety
Tuesday 21st July 2020 10:37 pm
catch my death
an English melody
travelling from heat to freezing cold
trans-this, sans-that, groan old.
Mealy-mouthed moaning means nothing to me,
people volunteer eat, shit, eat shit, they do,
they’re that stupid.
Put a gun in a man’s hands
this murderer wears a funny hat
no smiles, no this, no that
no men o’pause, just the bare necessities.
Freeze, moan, groan, be...
Sunday 19th July 2020 10:53 pm
You came to me, through an open window,
All the sealed envelopes of me
Came into your hands,
There was nothing in them —
just the love that you could throw away or understand –
You threw it straight back to me, I caught it,
You gave me a lot of praise with your eyes
Kissed me for being alive
I thought you were desiring reciprocation, but you weren’t
Friday 17th July 2020 12:12 am
Those rich metaphors drawn from the sky and sea
Rich funereal language, baptism, burial, birth,
Blossom and harvest, wise ones, Witan's children.
From the lips of children we learn that clinging
To life is not enough.
Smoke over Mosul. Mosul's churches, where once
The Jacobite heart of Christian belief was celebrated,
Among the ruins of Nineveh along the same back paths,
Alleys, that we Je...
Thursday 16th July 2020 11:34 pm
Jagged gashes on my skin,
blood spurts from within;
fractured brain, a silent cry,
another day jus'passing me by.
Jagged notches, screaming edges,
people sleeping in the hedges
under bridges, tearing flesh,
sticking spikes, right and left.
Many things make me bereft..
When I'm rushing, on my run,
do I feel like Jesus' son ?
Or am I a mere blank slate
wrestling with fate?
Thursday 16th July 2020 9:44 pm
Ah, the tip of the straw gripped by your teeth
I move you gently. You are asleep.
You have a little money but enormous dignity.
You live in a caravan and poach for the pot.
You are silent about the past.
Let sleeping dogs lie.
You were born into misfortune
But that was in another country and, besides, the wench is dead.
Your arrows for your bow, a boat made from old furniture,
Tuesday 14th July 2020 10:11 pm