Poetry Blog by John E Marks
Tags from last 12 months
I am from Constantinople, a Byzantine by descent,
The last, the very last, Byzantine nobleman
My family lived in Constantinople before the Turks took the city in 1453.
I was born and died in the same place, Alexandria,
Egypt, on the same day, April 29th, 1863, and 1933.
I am homosexual. I died of cancer of the larynx.
I was silenced but noboby knew the difference.
Saturday 30th May 2020 8:45 pm
I can hardly speak but I will try.
My brain falls silent, still;
It is the dying of the light
When a ferment of tenses
Lead up many cul de sacs.
Lingering, a moonlight-figure,
Mirrors, the sparkling frost,
She’s gone but never lost.
Suspicious of the silence offered
Outside, all is wild, sky, the colour of blood,
Soaks up all I left, once, years ago,
On a barge meandering down the river
Friday 29th May 2020 11:48 pm
“I am & have been for years a confirmed anti-vaccinationist. .”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Not the usual undulations of night-day
But a locked down twilight, when time
Stands still, a form of temporal Medusa
Hopes turned to stone. Time splinters
Pointing into the past, future, present.
Frozen in a moment of Covid negativity
But realising that every breath, movement,
Involves the risk of THE posi...
Friday 29th May 2020 9:42 pm
Bafflled how he came to be a pauper, he thought,
Tramp, hobo, undeserving poor, me!
An ex-serviceman, still with an upright back,
Thing is: he never really arrived home. Did he?.
Not a real sort of family home;
Belfast, The Falklands, Belize, Operation Desert Storm
Are with him every day.
Like many men who wore the uniform, Jim is reluctant to see a doctor
"I'll be reet" ...
Thursday 28th May 2020 10:09 pm
"As I have not worried to be born, I do not worry to die." Federico Lorca.
What remains in the purpled garden
tattered garments, broken men,
weeds, greed, resurrected, again
your hands around your lover’s waist,
eyes shining with tears.
Come! Taste the brandy,
swill it around your mouth,
look at the azure ocean, huge, unoccupied
so far from Barcelona a...
Tuesday 26th May 2020 11:37 pm
We wake to the rumbling thunder of blood,
Pumping hearts, twisted hearts, this shadow and I
Squeeze into the silences of trees.
Now the dark lights of Christmastide afflict us,
Twilight memories drift, flux, flicker
In this breeze of time.
Penumbra-beginning, hologram-end, my friend,
Such pungent affirmations,
Whispered in the dark,
Slip so easily
Into generations of suffering:
Tuesday 26th May 2020 3:59 pm
Happiness, a summer fleeting,
Gone, like sunshine after rain,
Winter’s grip remains.
Death of friends leaves us diminished,
I fear we do not grasp at all.
How needy men just crave a respite,
Want the clocks to stop, is all.
Footsteps in the snow deceiving
Whiskey priests dream Magdalenas
Drunk at noon, asleep, forgetting,
Dig a grave in...
Friday 22nd May 2020 10:06 pm
The moon was sad as only the moon can be.
Men in tears fleeing the nightmare of their years.
Some fellows dream that with your fingers
You can pluck and hold tightly
The calmness of flowers, the depth of a moment,
The completeness of a live birth.
Outside, white sobs slide into our ears.
Remembering the smile of our mother,
On the fortunate day of her first kiss.
The past is a magnet an...
Thursday 21st May 2020 9:38 pm
Tender is the Night
With all her forgotten beauty
People pass out of sight
On this summer midnight
Dogs, too, are missed,
One dog in particular.
Look! the serpent and the saviour sit
Somewhere in old-England.
No truth is hidden from our lady moon
No disguising her faint silvery tune.
Such wide-open rosy faces, faced the blackest of skies,
Gnarled hands shade fri...
Wednesday 20th May 2020 9:50 pm
...est in Arcadia ego...
This early morning air: pellucid, refreshingly soft
A time of hush, just before that cacaphony
Of hope that marks a sweet May dawn - the lifter
Of moods, the harbinger of hope, the visionary self.
Filled with all the quiet majesty of an English breeze
Stirring the leafy canopy as the sun begins to
Shadow, half-created dappled zephyrs blow.
Tuesday 19th May 2020 8:13 pm
All along this strand opposite Holy Island
Pebbles fit softly in the palm of my hand.
Spent their eternity rolling on the floors of seas
Others, more ragged in texture, drag themselves
Through sand – desperate for the solidity of land.
Fossils cling to rocks, embedded trilobites, snail
Swirls, embossed in rock – all had lived
In the Jurassic or Cretaceous, fought for food,...
Monday 18th May 2020 9:54 pm
A brief evocation in words
a classic call, all in small,
a portrait in brief,
with no definite border.
Driving up via Dundalk.
No sign of a
hero Cú Chulainn.
In Clones, a poet
parades the diamond.
In Cavan town, for Claddagh rings;
They're filming at Redhills,
another border sto...
Sunday 17th May 2020 9:58 pm
From earth to earth, from air to air
never at home
until I spy
scored by the passing blocks of ice.
An earth torn from the permafrost
this is where
the old sun
stings me back
as i hear children laugh
in this rich meadowland
carved out of st john's wood
this is where
fear whispers its long retreat
this is where the very gods of earth and air
Saturday 16th May 2020 10:45 pm
"Walking all the day, near tall towers where falcons build their nests/ Silver winged they fly, they know the call of freedom in their breasts." Mary Black
After the convent it was good to be back
The new estate. The new morning.
Rathmines then Stephen's Green.
Finding clothes for Anna,
Dressing her kindly,
Gentle and wicked she wakes.
The personal is the political.
Saturday 16th May 2020 9:35 pm
The seas are wild tonight
As I write, far from any coast;
Speckled with salty brine and afraid,
I spy in the broken mirror
The broken boy who is following me
Down dale, up tree, crawling all over me:
Still, the ghost of my brother
Stands next to me,
Leaning forward to see
The ghost of my son
Spinning and laughing all around me
Beneath this savage sea ...
Friday 15th May 2020 11:53 pm
A faint whiff of the anti-sceptic about the place,
Frankincense and myrrh are wishes out of place in the
Silence, which enrols the mind on dashes into the future,
- dashes to the past and do not last - sutures stitched
the wound and I arrived back discomforted,
Disheveled, palpitating; but certainly not relieved
of all the burdens of the present, I perceive
Sweats in the n...
Friday 15th May 2020 1:37 am
Away with the moon
with her shadows and all
those sturdy penumbras
you saw in the ball.
Forget you, forget you
I fall out of bed
and all you beget
is so-suddenly dead.
She’s tousled & sleepy,
this edge of the moon,
Angus, dear Angus,
just walked out the room.
His pool-side of shadows
is living alone,
with ginger-nut biscuits...
Friday 15th May 2020 12:59 am
(For: Nick Drake - 19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974)
I still walk beside you: tall, stooped, a quintessentially English presence.
I listen to how your flat Fenland vowels
swirl into melodies melded within the staccato RP of Cambridge.
So many minor key explorations of sadness; pulling at the scabs of loneliness, and regret. Your songs made plangent by the melancholic timbre ...
Thursday 14th May 2020 11:38 pm
A pleasure-seeker, petulant, pruned hard,
stepping-out, a girl of fifty, gin-drinker,
rouged and randy, she bandies words,
hair-styled, clothes perfumed; no excesses
of taste. Nothing smeared or wrinked here,
a tinkle of bangles as she lifts her drink.
Dressed up, for the night, tight and squirmy.
She looks around, she smiles as she sees
the man's face, pulsates, no hotel room-service
Tuesday 12th May 2020 11:18 pm
Hanging on, just scraping by,
Keeping my head above water
I'll never learn to fly
In this monochrome world
Of silence stripped of consciousness
We rise with the superfluity of deceit
I remember a snow-laden sky moving in slow motion
As always an innocence of birds catches the eye.
On the beach, I am hunched up, driven by the freezing wind
This wind that crosses the sea ...
Monday 11th May 2020 10:33 pm
The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord.”
― Edward Gibbon, The decline and fall of the Roman empire
Sunday 10th May 2020 11:50 pm
Lithe legs spread
Like a swan-song
A spectacular series
Of whirls on her toes.
He circles her on the ball of his foot
Musical, muscular movements mingle and mix
A shiver of white as she jumps
The trick of catching a breath as she slumps
Into his arms;
A choreography of bo...
Sunday 10th May 2020 11:00 pm
If not, cover his coffin,
If not, cover his coffin
My friend is dead!
To those who carry his coffin
There is a secret that is not in the oceans
Nor in the present, past or future.
For there was no flower in his heart.
Plain and simple.
In these days of curiosity.
A tribute first to her who bore me.
Saturday 9th May 2020 10:46 pm
The life of the world as it is now is not living,
It is a bad process of dying.
It doesn’t matter when we die, so long as we live fulfilling the deepest desire that is in us.
And a life which is a denial of the deepest desire is much worse than any death, it is a lie
I have drunk a lot of whiskey since you both died
And I can no longer hide
Behind this screen of anonymity.
Friday 8th May 2020 10:32 pm
“Dogs are better than human beings
because they know, but do not tell.” Emily Dickinson
Yes the misery of keeping a dog
is his dying so soon.
To be a friend of a dog offers profound joy
To be with a dog when he dies
Offers profound sadness.
We learn so much from our dogs.
The coward man dies many times
The brave, true dog dies only the once.
But, to be sure,
if my friend had lived fo...
Friday 8th May 2020 10:05 pm
When sadnesses besiege you:
At the dying of the light
And starlight illuminates
The mere ending of the night.
Will you tingle in the frosted air of the privilges of sight?
Starlight is a mirror, in the water of the eyes,
When humankind, finally, abandons its disguise.
The spin and whirl of hemlock
Help the witch and Wicca sway
Under the greensward
On this beautifully ...
Thursday 7th May 2020 11:34 pm
Charlie allowed death to overtake him today
He'd been slowing down anyway
The old ticker on the blink
Arthritis in his legs and more.
The old trooper staggered on.
Out with me on his final night,
Plodding through the spring grass:
Making our time last.
Thursday 7th May 2020 10:58 pm
Everything dies in time:
Memories, birds in the trees,
That old druid forgetfulness.
Time plays such cruel deceptions
Creates such havoc in the mind
I reach out and hope
To find somewhere human.
Sardonic, yes, witty, the sceptical glance,
The silent prayer, faded romance,
Converge into this plea:
Wear your learning lightly.
Reach out to Syrian and Lebanese
Tuesday 5th May 2020 2:35 am
She sits silently hunched over her one-bar electric fire
Dismal north Manchester light seeps through her tightly drawn curtains.
Her entire world was smashed when the burglar came
And she will never be the same
She sips her sweet tea shakily.
She gazes up at her mantlepiece
A young man's face looks at her out of the cracked glass.
His face smiles at her across the year...
Tuesday 5th May 2020 1:30 am
For two hundred and fifty years these interlopers
Have squandered our land, spread squalor everywhere,
Massacred the natural beauty of sea and air and land.
Europeans killed us for their sport,
They knew nothing of the sacred,
They spread their filth everywhere across America.
Listen, now, to the ghost-dancers of the Souix
Chant their hatred of these fat white males
Monday 4th May 2020 12:00 am
Lucifer, you, too, are a fisher of men
and time despairs of men.
Our pride lies in the ravenous sea -
from which we sprang -
and will return.
Dark clouds shadow us, it's true,
and whisper that all that is, is not,
that we are as a piece with mere oblivion.
But, I see, this winding path will never do.
A woman holds her stillborn child.
Do you watch over her
as she suddenly grows older?
No, we are th...
Saturday 2nd May 2020 4:04 pm
That duff Tory, Mr Wordsworth, with his women waiting,
and the hills too, for all I know,
traipsed these empty horizons covetously;
but while the POET was in Germany
De Quincey and Coleridge squatted in his cottage
his meagre thread of dreams.
And you never forgave them, did you, Mr Wordsworth?
Nursing your resentment like a baby
as you searched, and se...
Saturday 2nd May 2020 3:50 pm
And as I tread these stark northern hills,
rain clouds the lungs,
infects the vision,
of all who sink, so-far, into these grey horizons.
Two hundred years and more of the very first industrial smog
have sunk, deep, into these stone villages,
set, like concrete, into these
sodden, sheep-ridden hills.
And in the pub
this worn-down, sepia-mid-afternoon light,
Friday 1st May 2020 10:03 pm
Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher born in 544 B.C. said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man."
Heraclitus, my friend, I know you've been gone
For two and a half thousand years but we are of one mind:
Sceptical, Seeking, Secular.
On a road through Physics and Mathematics
To a Singularity of belief
Foretold in th...
Thursday 30th April 2020 4:48 pm
What's wrong with mum?
Isolation, that dynamite of the heart,
Can blow apart the best made plans of mice and men,
And so we begin, again,
As the eternal verities abide.
Pride comes before a fall
This sin of sins, is on the side of
Lucifer, God's angel of the night,
Who looked into a mirror of reflected light
And fell into eternal night. Isolation...
Thursday 30th April 2020 4:09 am
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.
Draining the body fluid
Into the sewer beneath
Tuesday 28th April 2020 11:11 pm
There is no wind blowing today
it is late April and the spring flowers
are showing their true colours
I have done little as the day fades
but this is the sort of day I like to keep
strongly felt, discrete.
The evening meal was a melee
children fighting for attention
as they do
but I find these days
a new life is on its way
and I feel
so very ...
Tuesday 28th April 2020 10:47 pm
Speak your own minds
even with the most wise.
Trust your own eyes
Fail to remember everything
Do not write
your own epitaphs.
every day you can
in the face of eternity
And find time to notice the world
as it is.
Tuesday 28th April 2020 10:24 pm
Writ in water
Or writ in air.
The test of time.
As life and air
So lines writ-in-water
Begin their stay.
Shall fade away.
Tuesday 28th April 2020 1:41 pm
An appropriate name don't you think?
Seeing through the seasons
Unearthing the heart of the matter.
Tuesday 28th April 2020 6:49 am
Nuristan, in eastern Afghanistan, was formerly known as Kafiristan (کافرستان, "land of the infidels") until the inhabitants, all except the Kalash) were forcibly converted from their syncretic version ancient Hinduism to Islam, in 1895, and thence the region has become known as Nuristan ("land of illumination" - sic!)
The Hindu Kush
The mountains of the ...
Saturday 25th April 2020 9:29 pm
Abstracted in Afghanistan
I pick cankers for a simple
Choose a rhapsody in blue
Love lapis lazuli
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 o...
Friday 24th April 2020 10:40 pm
All those years of hope
Fitted, now, into a wooden six foot box.
From girlhood’s putting on
Of burdensome beauty
Into the chiffon-sixties of London town
Then Devon, and the farm.
And then confusion, the end of hope,
You were sliding down that slippery slope
Where, at last, the dreadful daylight starts
Of unkept promises, and broken hearts.
And, back, finally, to Chesh...
Friday 24th April 2020 7:54 pm
Grab a joblot of high definition TVs
Great pictures for you, great movies for me.
So many facilities here for jiffy-jolly fun.
PIty the hoi-polloi who speak patois-rum.
Four vibrant ghosts came singing round here today
Rounded up by cops seeking to blow their blues away.
We said amen to their flat soft voice purr-drawl
Telling black kids 'you ain't wanted round here'.
Friday 24th April 2020 1:59 am
Or, so I'm told.
The sweet songs of summer
Are coming our way
And the birds in the trees
Are singing all day.
The occasional cloud high high in the sky
And all of the world, I just let it pass by.
My pockets are empty, my outlook is drear,
But every day brings my death nearer.
I gaze at the faces of the people I meet
Some are struck dumb and just stare at their feet
Friday 24th April 2020 1:08 am
At 4.14 am, I'm awake again
Insomnia strips me and wilts me;
Tiredness balloons my face with frowns
Strips me down like the wind strips
Autumn trees, bleeds me dry.
Leaves me high and dry
On this deserted shore of times gone-by
Where I am forced onto my knees.
O! The strength we need to plead
For forgiveness: poems of crisis,
Virus stories, empty - bellied
Wednesday 22nd April 2020 5:27 am
"Dead, your Majesty. Dead, my lords and gentlemen. Dead, right reverends and wrong reverends of every order. Dead, men and women, born with heavenly compassion in your hearts. And dying thus around us every day." Bleak House, Ch.XLVII, ‘Charlie Dickens
Opinions can be ignored, mocked,
That’s fair enough – satirists’d be buggered –
and, of course,
No-one has the right not to b...
Monday 20th April 2020 12:04 am
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com
Think you’re escaping and run into yourself.
Longest way round is the shortest way home.
T’was the night before Christmas,
Or Easter or Whitsun, any Christian festival.
It was dark and cold and dreary.
Dark, black night.
For lettered and unlettered alike.
Fearing the roaring of the skies,
Trembling at the dying of the light;
Sunday 19th April 2020 11:22 pm
‘Falling life expectancy in the poorest communities is a deeply worrying indicator of the state of our nation’s health, and shows that we are leaving the most vulnerable out of the collective gain’ Independent, 28.11.18
What's this area got?
Not a lot of jobs, or prospects, or money
There's no des-res for burnt out
City execs round here.
But there is plenty of poverty, and plenty of fe...
Sunday 19th April 2020 6:35 pm