Poetry Blog by John E Marks (2017)

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Self-defence, class


Shaking when I walked into his shop,

Thoughts of the beautiful, white Crescent Moon

Lost  in the ebony sky of late November.

Fled like winter sleet melted,

The glint of the knife on that coal black night

The one in the hoodie, with no facial tattoo,

 Lunged forward screaming into thin air:

“Put the fucking money in there!”

So what'd he get? In the blink of an eye?


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Near is very far
Space, time,
Dark star
Black hole
A wandering soul.

There’s a vastness that appals
White walls.

Scurrying through
The corridors
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

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A terrible beauty

Six months now since the slaughter

On the 22nd May 2017 at an Ariana concert

22 murdered, 116 with injuries they'll carry

All their lives. The target, the young and carefree.


Before, I loved the rainy mornings of my life

And I never thought that friendly mountain passes

Would ferry me away

But  now happy times are seldom

And the rain runs away with me.


From hol...

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Caillteanas buan de sonas

Faoin trá seo de ghaineamh agus sliogáin

Feicim íomhá na farraige rollta.

Frámaí agus seithí talún nua-aimsithe nua

Na fairsinge leathan seo; Siúilim feadh an aill:

Fágann an duine ar thaobh na gaoithe,

Trilobites leabaithe, faoi bhun mo chosa

Grianchloch agus Muscovite ón eibhir

Na gaoithe agus na dtonnta a thug an t-am

Fóicphointí farraige, carraigeacha i bhfolach, phluai...

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How can I write about the famine

Born into the welfare state

Brought up on a council estate?

But I read and I know

That the Warehouses up and down

England’s west coast

Liverpool, Bristol

Were stuffed with grain

While babes in Connaught,

Mayo and Donegal,

Were left to die,




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A cold-hearted man with a gun in his hand

He loved to control, did this man with no soul.

He died long ago, in a land made of snow,

Was soon born again, in a world without end.

He lived in that cave right next to the grave

Of his brother, his wife, his lover, I mean

Just someone obscene.  He worked and made money.

He thought it was funny,

His nature was such, so-cold to the...

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Sackcloth and ashes


Morning maniac music

Shakes me awake

Those who once brought hope

Now mired in hate

Over the mountain, clouds scud

There's blood on the floor

Refugees waiting

For sanctuary.

Some say

Christendom has fallen

Collapsed from within,

Deep, deep in the mire of sin.

Oh! I'm glad I never fell in love with you


I  try to speak

But I cannot begin to say...

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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 –
At least a bit – panting still bu...

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November brought to mind in August


Oh! the lack of light, all day twilight!

 Can anybody live through this visual misery?

Even the trees have no leaves.

And the cold!

We wake to the rumbling thunder of  blood,

Pumping hearts, this shadow and I squeeze

Into the thick silences of trees.

Now the dark lights

Of Christmastide, drift, flux and flicker in this breeze of


penumbra-beginning ho...

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No buggy-pushing for you, my son

It’s done. You’re dead.

26 days we had you

Saw you. Felt you. Touched you.

And I am snake-bitten

Clouded and red

For all crumbles under you.


Penumbra: winter tree


Rain-shine on our time

You darling boy. So hard born, I sang.

Now even your blanket-smell has gone.

Nobody mentions you.

Kieran Sean Ja...

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On a windless night

I feel the house shake

A child swirls rises

I smoke. Sit stil.l

Forget. Remember.

In this twenty-first century

The wind screams, rises.

The wind screeches

Scattering thoughts, paper

Rocking foundations, shattering monuments.


Outside I gather windfalls in my night clothes

Amass them

Images scatter like dust.

I forget. Remember.


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And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. Revelation 20:4



All across the Nineveh plain the lights are going out


Crosses driven into the hearts of the last of Mesopotamia’s


Christians. These Assyrians, speaking Aramaic, the language


Of Christ, have been loyal throughout the long cent...

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feeling empty

a leaf on a tree

enough for me.

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Generation 27

Lorca’s blood wedding

Packed fulll of vaginas bleeding

Into lemon-tree- soil

Reminds me of nothing more than the toil, toil, toil

Of life in Al-Andalus.

Priests chanting the rosary

Like it was El Maleh Rachamim

Or the Mourner's Kaddish

(which it probably was, if the priest

Was a Converso, who  changed his religion

To save his life or, maybe, that of his children).


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The foggy, foggy dew

Once I knew you,

Red hair blowing free

Catholic and wild:  

The young banshee.

A Jacobite, like me.


The moral guardians condemned us:

Said we were transgressors,

The breakers of the law.


So then we asked each other

What was life for?


It’s the wildness that’s within us!

Our spirits roaming free:

The accomplishment of nothing

That is you and me.

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Drinking where the river bed is dry

Charlie and I have walked our post-cancer walks

Down this narrow stretch of green in the city

For a full decade now. We’ve aged together

But not like malt, we’ve blended into each other,

Man and Dog. He recognizes the smells, me the sights,

And his life is shorter than mine. That afflicts me like

A sentence. Very few minutes pass

Without me thinking of that.  He connects me to...

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A winter suicide

We wake to the rumbling thunder of blood,
Pumping hearts, twisted hearts, this shadow and I
Squeeze into the thick silences of trees.
Now the dark lights of Christmastide afflict us
Twilight memories drift, flux and flicker
In this breeze of time.
Penumbra-beginning, hologram-end,

Such pungent affirmations,

Slip so quickly into the generations of suffering:

Eyes lifted to a cross, a...

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My love didn’t come from nowhere.  

My father was a bastard, a sailor on the seas,

My mother just a peasant

Spent her life upon her knees.

The noblesse oblige:

The drinking and the drugs,

Was countered by Intelligence

And a tingling in the blood.


We were the late Romans

Much diminished and now, finally, gone.

For since the death-stroke of 1453,

When we he...

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i.m. Captain Keith Douglas (1920-1944)

In Calvados you have your cross

And though you won, you most surely lost.

Your sacrifice, at twenty-four, to modern wit

Is nothing more than a crying bore.


Who now has read Alamein to Zem Zem

Your story of the war in the western desert?

For though you certainly knew how to kill

You knew the cost, for you had no draperies over your eyes.

No deception, no disguise.



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