Poetry Blog by John E Marks (2020)
Nicola Beckett on These empty streets (Mon, 25 Jan 2021 03:19 am)
Dallying in the evening wild, studded with barbed wire,
My mind takes a turn for the worse.
Oak trees help me flee to the world I need
My mind is soaking up this new year’s eve
Your slow gaze onto this solitary page
Releases the frame of my bondage to the world
Now only the mind can release the tension of the moment
My imagination leaps, frees my broken body,
into the dream of transmi...
Thursday 31st December 2020 11:56 pm
Ignore those that make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back towards disease and death. Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
Gripped by the foreboding
Of a nascent dread
We watched as our liberties
were stripped away
Whilst chains of transmission
Decreased the space where some felt safe.
Forced many back between four walls
Appalled at their own weakness
The worried well can go to hell.
Wednesday 30th December 2020 10:47 pm
The times of wonder gone
The wise women drugged
First Peoples neglected
Their land abused.
Forensic psychology reveals traces
Of long-forgotten faces
Which, 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
Tuesday 29th December 2020 5:24 pm
Halal and Kosher
Ritual means of slaughter.
Sanctioned by religion.
Such savage butchery.
I swallow my frustration.
Stick a smile upon my face
Make a face to meet
The faces I meet
Pretend I'm neat and tidy
As we do. But not tolerant
Not of this unalloyed cruelty.
We are in a shocking state of blue-hypocrisy
If we let people do, as some people do..
Look in the slaughter house
Monday 28th December 2020 8:40 pm
“He who kisses joy as it flies by will live in eternity's sunrise.”
― William Blake
It is easy to walk away from faith
Harder to climb back on board
The ship of faith as it navigates these stormy seas.
The scientific sage of this secular age
Associates blind faith with barbaric ignorance
Murder, in the name of God.
True faith links us to childhood innocence
Monday 28th December 2020 1:26 pm
His headstone verses writ in water
Draw the eye unto the fact of death
Nothing left, bereft. Except the words.
Lichen lines that love-and-only-love remembers.
All we knew was the deepest blue of
This good man’s eyes. It is written in blood
That mortal love will always end like this. Time
weathers the stonemason’s art to a flat palimpsest
of hieroglyphics which resemble not the zest
Friday 25th December 2020 10:42 pm
Let's away to the blue mountains
To the elegaic music of loss when
the sun above us burns the mists away
as we walk into the valley of youth.
Today, I will walk the blue mountains of forgetting,
Just a wall above the far-horizons of delight,
no closer after five days of tramping the fields;
for five days I kept going whilst knowing futility
in every pore, I just keep going and going.
Thursday 24th December 2020 11:06 pm
The extenuation of time into rhyme
The devil’s in the detail
A confusion of contusions, a microbial illusion,
A stretching out of meaning so that
As soon as sad-so-sad covid rears its ugly head
A crying game ensues, tears shed
Mood into an Aztec-under-the-volcano
Cacophony of rumblings of stars, bowels,
Owls’ uncertain stutterings ...
Tuesday 22nd December 2020 10:22 pm
Goodbye my Sufi friends and lovers
Nothing exists to connect you to me
Tayyar is honourable, full of good intent
I will rise from the trap of the world
I will not ask you to be my servant in paradise
You are my dancer, I am your poet, we laugh
Together on days when we taste the rain.
When you sew, I watch you and fall in love
Again I remember our first meeting
Amongst the sweet smell...
Monday 21st December 2020 10:26 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 mankind
Time shears t...
Monday 21st December 2020 6:10 pm
This whiskey priest
Grits his teeth at human fallibilities,
Frailty is just that I drink the stuff,
But with a holy glimmer of delight
No guilt, no sleight of conscience
Or of hand, just the taste of heaven
The more often I drink Fuisce Baile,
plain n rough
The tougher I become. Rum..
Whiskey, old-Irish say, Uisce Beatha,
Means the water of life in the Gaelic,
And in Druid...
Saturday 19th December 2020 11:59 pm
Early on in Dostoevsky’s great work Crime and Punishment,
Published in 1866 when Dostoevsky was 44 years old,
Raskolnikov, an ex-student in St Petersburg, sees himself as a young boy,
Walking through a provincial town with his father.
Outside a pub, a drunken rabble surround a weary old horse,
Hitched to a weighty cartload that it cannot pos...
Friday 18th December 2020 6:59 pm
The red-gold glow of stormy autumn fades into winter
As leafy-mist lights this mid-December dawn recalling me,
in-curiously, to the design hidden in words.
Words whirl like smoke signals rising from a fire, from a gun,
from a life tended by an old man in a blacked out suit
the front of which, bedecked with medals, is time-ridden.
He is missing, gone missing, in 1914.
Wednesday 16th December 2020 11:05 pm
No mobile phones,
In the zone of the dead,
No wi-fi signal
Even his venial sins were left unsaid.
Such a blither and a blather
Of the blessed signal
Emanates from masts, alone on a hill,
Veering from Porn Hub to Politics' thrill
God! I told you before, I'd much rather be ill.
Wednesday 16th December 2020 10:26 pm
In rings of bright water
The days of stormy autumn come
Mother, child, brother, son,
Memories, like dust, infest my eyes,
Swirling, like Turner’s skies;
Like water under wind,
Mixing greys and blacks and whites and blues,
A chiaroscuro, tussling these monochromes
Into the piebald skies of heaven above.
Below, girls in mucky summer dresses,
Chase boys with unruly mothers,
Tuesday 15th December 2020 5:18 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, bored enough
To score an attendance at his own wake, and to read more
From Joyce’s work-in-progress The Finnegan’s Wake.
Anybody who has ever passed through the doors of perception
Will be changed, changed utterly...
Sunday 13th December 2020 11:48 pm
President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Wednesday, September 28, that a proxy of Syrian fighters has been deployed from southern Turkey To Azerbaijan.
The war has now begun
And will end in the holy city
And many will burn their eyes
Before she is done, or dies.
The Turks refuse to accept the Armenian genocide of 1915. Now, in 2020
Armenians are, again, bei...
Sunday 13th December 2020 9:50 pm
Ghost writing the sting of the wind
Shivering spring day
Reminds me of my
Ancestors who rode
Battling this same wind
As they trudged to the pit
On early shift.
This connection, now, is
Deep, sunk into my blood,
In all that I mean
When I say these words
In tones that rhyme.
Words that would’ve
Carried meaning s...
Saturday 12th December 2020 1:00 am
Lonely as a ghost
hit by a train,
quite the same
six beers in
this stinkin' sin of despair
contaminates the very air;
rain smears and soaks
everywhere, I turn
to face the future
i need stitches, a suture,
to hold the pain at bay
the ventricles of the heart
never dreamed that we would part
Thursday 10th December 2020 11:48 pm
Moments of the past do not last
days kicked into the long grass
A warm early-summer’s day
gold petals into bloom today.
For God’s sake!
later, flurries of snow melt
into a body without heat
Frozen snow above
tumbling-heaps of red, gold, brown
that used to crisp-crackle underfoot
like old ghosts who lose their threads,
Druggies: their fragile, thin
Wednesday 9th December 2020 11:18 pm
Do no harm: sin, or virtue, are secondary to this injunction. Deadly sins of poverty, hypocrisy, abound. Don’t let red anger blossom in you. Nor black despair. Keep blood in your cheeks. Do not let desire dictate your life. But make your heart beat faster; spread the laughter. Do not promulgate the short fuses of envy or jealousy. Vanity offers only a pretended life: stripped of gentleness and str...
Tuesday 8th December 2020 10:39 pm
Look at these lines – fishing for compliments –
Hooked, they drag us back.
Leave us squirming on the dry bank:
Palpitating, bruised from the fight.
Removing the pin from the mouth
It’s a painful business. But worthwhile.
Who’ll throw us back in to sink or swim?
Alone, we wriggle to the edge then flop
The shock of contact leaves us breathless.
It’s hostile here. But we feel. We ...
Monday 7th December 2020 7:58 pm
Christianity being their greatest foe. In A. D. 634 they slaughtered thousands of Christians in Syria. Monasteries were ransacked and the monastics and the people were put to the sword. Beheadings were considered the preferred way for executions of those who resisted them.
rich metaphors drawn from the sky and sea
rich funereal language, baptism, burial and birth,
blossom and harvest, wi...
Friday 4th December 2020 11:22 pm
We live and love among other worlds,
I expect the end of the world,
If it comes to find me,
Into what, I do not know.
I may write a poem to mark this transition
But I may be silent. Which is a relief. For some.
I think that I have the means and inclination
To make the attempt to be better than I am.
Though I know my wife is better still than I can ever be .
It is not easy for me to have...
Thursday 3rd December 2020 10:58 pm
What remains is writ in water,
writ again in the purpled gardens of the mind,
viewed in the tattered remnants of adversity,
unresurrected, in all honesty, undead.
Hands around your lover’s waist,
kissing her waif-face,
eyes shining with tears,
mouth tasting of brandy,
swilling around memories.
A ghost dog sits on the gravestone
looking at the azure ocean,
remembering the battle for ...
Wednesday 2nd December 2020 10:17 pm
Y'know what I mean?
The BBC battering on about the redundancies
Whilst ripping off millions of over-75 OAPs
They're milch cows, uncomplaining, easy meat,
For the most-part old poorish decent folk having to fork out for BBC licences
Meanwhile, on the BBC radio pretend socialists witter on about minorities, again,
While collecting thousands of pounds an hour
Before shifting out of Salford b...
Wednesday 2nd December 2020 1:38 am
Salvadore Dali PORTRAIT OF MY DEAD BROTHER 1963
Two days before he died
At night, in the rain,
I shared a cigarette with my brother, Pete,
We talked of nothing, of everything,
I knew I loved him,
But not so much.
Death, he said to me, isn’t anything,
Nothing more than
Bird-song when you listen
I told him he was a bad liar
And had he been talking to those doctors ...
Tuesday 1st December 2020 11:23 pm
I can hardly speak but I try:
my brain falls silent, still
it is the dying of the day
when a ferment of tenses
leads me up many cold-cut cul de sacs..
I linger on a moonlight-figure
palely mirroring the sparkling frost,
she’s gone but never lost.
Suspicious of the silences within
outside is wild, the colour of blood
soaks into the sky.
A barge meanders down the river
on a ...
Sunday 29th November 2020 12:22 am
Melancholy's lack of zest
is written all over the palimpsest
of a young medical doctor-poet
who died at twenty-five and will, to some,
hardly seem to have been alive at all
But look at his writing
Johnny Keats and the footloose 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
Friday 27th November 2020 10:31 pm
this is a satire of sorts
as I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
into tunnels of my own making,
over the wind-swept bridges,
I force myself through cold, wet air
through the sedentary, school-less
villages of the old and moneyed classes
into the land of my enemies
conservatives who conserve nothing
this is wh...
Friday 27th November 2020 10:15 pm
"Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."
William Butler Yeats,
I remember falling as a child
Being lifted by a faery-wild;
She kissed my cheek and mussed my hair
And then she wasn’t there.
Some blind folk see the faeries clear,
For faeries are always close or ...
Thursday 26th November 2020 10:00 pm
“Love is so short, forgetting is so long..” Pablo Neruda, ‘Love’
For example, I might say.one fine evening when I was sixteen
Not stuck in rowdy pubs with dazzling chandeliers,
But walking with her, carelessly, by the river..
We promenade under beech trees
Everything smells so good, so fragrant,
When you are young,.the air is so sweet
You close your eyelids and we kiss;
Wednesday 25th November 2020 12:10 am
When I look into the mirror
I do not see my face
I see the ghosts behind me,
Trailing blood and lace.
I excuse my misapprehension,
I apologise for my fault,
I'd love to fully explain
My face, my persona, my whole gestalt.
But I aint a good prose writer
I cannot see the end
I always hear the thunder,
It is deep within my heart,
Trying to tear me apart...
Sunday 22nd November 2020 12:34 am
This rose for all the world
These tears for all the dead,
Those empty words of morning tide
This ever-present dread.
Those cloying smells of perfume,
On the dresses of the rich,
This workman stumbling
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.
Sunday 22nd November 2020 12:05 am
Skylark songs lit up America
fifty years ago, on a windswept moor,
songbirds-skylarks soar into the Woodstock air
we were there
now, we trudge through memories.
Her coat was brown with feathers
she sang songs too warm, too hot for today
still, I have that evening tucked away,
in my book of wonderland music,
let's soak up words, enable the dead to speak,
like scissor sisters in whit...
Saturday 21st November 2020 9:11 pm
Red-gold glow of stormy autumn
oughter-fade into winter
as leafy-mist lights this late
November dawn recalling me,
incuriously from insomnia,
O! the design hidden in words,
like smoke signals
rising from a gun, from a fire drawing fire.
Tended by an old man in a black suit
the front of which, bedecked with medals,
is time-ridden by an absence missing,
gone missing, in 1916.
Friday 20th November 2020 12:42 am
" Beautiful spirits on underdogs sides."
You two had the temerity to trust to justice
To plough your young years into uncovering justice
Even for those for whom criminal justice had thrown away
The key, trusting that everybody deserves a second chance.
You were learning together with men who'd never
Been offered empathy or kindness. Men who now look
To your example of tre...
Thursday 19th November 2020 10:18 pm
Sky and sea and land, three old amigos,
overlap like love and hate and fate, but then……… the dreadful daylight starts of unkept promises and broken hearts….god’s dying to fix you up, y’know….but, unfortunately, those damned gombeen men conspire to extinguish every ounce of youth and beauty in poor folk, whether in this life or in some dreamy city of t...
Monday 16th November 2020 11:12 pm
Charlie and I walked our post-cancer walks
Down this narrow stretch of green in the city
For a full decade. Now he's gone, I must carry on.
We aged together, blended into each other,
Man and Dog. He recognized the smells, me the sights,
But his life was shorter than mine. That afflicted me like
A sentence. Very few minutes passed
Without me thinking of that. He connected me to the
Wednesday 11th November 2020 10:33 pm
They'd tried to take the sting out of death
A grassy meadow, secluded plot, trees
Which are often exactly what we need
But not now. Now we needed a New Orleans
Blues band blasting out the fact that life is short
And can be glorious, but not for Jim. No, not for Jim.
Too many desertions.Too many lapses in care.
Too often nobody there to help him pick up the pieces.
To begin again, it all be...
Tuesday 10th November 2020 11:23 pm
The love of adultery is a sin of man
Devised to ruin the goodness of woman,
It is a temptation that must accept
The full springs of your tears.
As you, who bring the rain to wash us clean,
And to make us fresh again,
Bow down to the sighs of my weeping heart.
You altered the realm of being
By your incomprehensible incarnation.
And now the followers of a desert seer
Tuesday 10th November 2020 9:25 pm
Christmas roses bloom in the dying of the light
it’s not a rose it’s a beautiful buttercup, slight
like the golden marvels we used to decide
which side our bread was buttered, when granny was alive.
Was the yellow reflected on your chins?
No, these flowers resemble wild roses — poisonous to humans –
helleborus niger macranthus –
enough to tangle any t...
Sunday 8th November 2020 10:44 pm
An unholy roar began to build
That cherry blossom day
Thunder in the air
Then, miraculously, quiet.
A low rumble, a terrible tremor,
A move towards total devastation
Of the air, on that day
When the earth began to shake.
All the skies of all the world were scorched with fire
And the air exploded
Fusing flesh with flesh
Into a whiteness
From which the dark shadow of a child
Saturday 7th November 2020 10:25 pm
Yeah, I were a soldier me, constantly, for years, still am now I’m on me arse. All these gobshites with their feckin poppies. I see watermelon smiles — to the ears, not the eyes, unexploded ieds — women-with tanned arms walking for miles. Men with children on their backs … jumping into the sea without thinking, to avoid me, the army. Mebbe someone, some being, somewhere, will save me? From what? M...
Saturday 7th November 2020 3:21 pm
The clear gaze of another day
Takes me wherever I do not want to go
Up hill, down dale, tumbling a-go-go.
He is my best friend, since I was a boy,
The wave of his kind eyes
As he says goodbye, his thin hair, his worry lines,
His photos, removed
Under the wings of the laughing birds
I comment upon what is past and gone
He focuses upon the afternoon moon
I drink beer, he smokes some skunk
Friday 6th November 2020 12:13 am
Shrivelled, exposed, cold,
Warps and wefts waste away
the body afflicted with decay
O!, I say, the hey-ho way, of the live-long-day.
Whatever has lived
Will wither, languish, and decay.
Time pines us away
aghast in a quagmire of guilt, regret
spilt water, wine? I forget
which itch of memory did the damage.
No transubstantiation this,
no move into immortal bliss:
this work of resi...
Wednesday 4th November 2020 10:12 pm
This old bloke pushes t'other old bloke in a wheelchair
Down a dreary Salford road, avoiding kerbs, talking
Always talking, talking of nothing, talking of everything:
What it takes and never gives back. The load.
With wheels of fire and halos running all amuck
These two desperados meander along past
The pound shops and the bookies and the booze 24/7ers
They know all t...
Tuesday 3rd November 2020 9:55 pm
For the Alberts & the Adas and the Agathas & Alfs,
For the host and crowd of ‘old ‘uns’ ‘going south’.
For the stoics and the silent, for the quietly afraid;
For those who’ve always known the outcome’s - grave
For those who disapprove, of everything I say
But who’ll defend my right to say it night and day.
When priest or rabbi or imam degenerates into hate
“Écrasez l’infâme!” a...
Monday 2nd November 2020 9:42 pm
When the poet ceases singing
There’s an end to everything:
Birds in the trees, music,
Tones and timbre, plangent and deep,
Tempests flare in the mind of man
Foreshadow that terrible realisation
That you too have followed this same cliff path
On nights of luminosity and in the darkness-drear
Of night. Mother, father, lover, friend
Swoon towards the moon in triumph
Or despair. Or ...
Sunday 1st November 2020 11:49 pm
His headstone verses were writ in water
They draw the eyes unto the fact of death.
Lichen lines love-and-only-love remembers.
All we knew was the deepest blue
Of a good man’s eyes. It is written in our blood
That mortal love will always end like this. Time
Weathers the stonemason’s art to a flat palimpest
Of hieroglyphics which resemble not the zest
Of pumping blood. Stones do not r...
Sunday 1st November 2020 1:02 am