Poetry Blog by John E Marks (2020)

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An Irish love poem

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...

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The worried well

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.


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The Unwritten

The times of wonder gone
The wise women drugged
Into submission.
 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

Eminently pr...

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Ritual slaughter

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
All col...

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Redemption song

“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

To Wordsw...

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Cancel culture

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

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In the house of the rising sun

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.

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Photo by Mario Rodriguez on Unsplash


 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 ...

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A Sufi Saint contemplates his imminent dissolution

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...

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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...

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A love supreme

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...

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Flogging a dead horse


Photo by Pieter van Noorden on Unsplash

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...

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The lost boys


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.


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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.                                      

Is telecommunicat...

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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,

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The doors of perception

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...

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The second Armenian genocide, 2020


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
 Of Jerusalem.
 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...

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Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash


 Ghost writing the sting of the wind
 Shivering spring day
 Reminds me of my
 Ancestors who rode
 This way
 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...

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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




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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!
stormy-autumn comes
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

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Born again

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...

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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 ...

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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...

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Before and After

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...

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The remains

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 ...

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The inarticulate love of country

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...

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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
Real close.

I told him he was a bad liar
And had he been talking to those doctors ...

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Redemption song


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 ...

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Johnny Keats and the Footloose Cavaliers

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
no seeki...

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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...

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The stolen child

"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 ...

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French kissing


“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;
The win...

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My Sweetheart the Drunk

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


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A Rainy September


This rose for all the world
For you,
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.



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Feed your head

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...

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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.


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For Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones

" 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...

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Roman de la rose

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash


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...

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The time of our lives

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

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Milk and Honey

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...

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For Kassia: a bold and beautiful Byzantine poet

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


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Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

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...

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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

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No place to be

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...

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An inception into art

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

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A withering

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...

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Along the Unhallowed way

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...

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For the stoic and the silent

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

Thank God!
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...

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When the poet ceases singing


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 ...

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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...

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She doesn't look, she sees
The black hole. Heading for her.
Scared of unfounded stories
Circulating in her head -
A brain-tumoured-tainted, untrained structure -
Cells multiply, you see, wildly
Deep sea squalls fling
Seas against concrete. Defences breached
By unaccounted time. Rhymes come & go
In this muddled mind of mine, multiples the arrhythmia
Of this, my broken heart, apart from th...

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The Pharmacology of Shadow



Sadnesses besiege me:
At the dying of the light
When starlight illuminates
The endings of the night.
I tingle in the frosted air of sight
Starlight is mirrored in the water and my eyes
When humankind abandons its disguise.
The spin and whirl of hemlock
Help witch and Wicca sway
Under the greensward
2020  a day like today
All that was dark
Is summoned by the llight
The Si...

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A sonnet for John Donne (poet)

"You made me forget myself, I thought I was someone else, Someone good........" Lou Reed RIP


Airy valedictions cannot span this bridge in time
What’s mine is yours, what’s yours is very definitely mine.
We both can hear the quiet roar of our own new found land
As time drifts to a stop and as we focus near and far
We no longer stand amazed at the hollow rancour of public life
And have ...

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Rose, the loveliest of pagan namings,
see clear to another day
The past a foreign country:
Where we gave so much away.
Happy trails
Landed us in Golden Gate Park
San Francisco

Palo Alto was a world apart
Looking for a revolution
And this was it:
No empty-headed technologies
No silicon in the valley
Just a box of rain

Such a long-long time gone by.
Such a short-short time to be th...

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Counting the cost

Before ideas or ideology
Comes flesh and blood
My brother'd be 65 today
Blown away at 41.
No swan song.

Before I've thought of a thing
It's happened again somewhere
To someone
In this strange universe
Of isolated broken things. 

When I'm drinking
Sometimes I think
All is safe and cosy
I know I'm fooling myself
And it's taken a lot of booze
To get so far down the road of illusion

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The sounds of the day
Are clownishly fooling
But won’t go away -
There's a nightmare to follow
This minor delay.

Yes, it’s tick-a-tock-ticking
We’re all going away.
For the old witch is flying -
 to the edge of the moon
and the war is beginning
So it’s boom, brother, boom!

Starlight is raging -
it's all over so soon -
but now it's recorded on  bloody old Zoom..

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The beautiful Cathars of Languedoc


The ideas of the beautiful  Cathars of Languedoc spread across western Europe 700 years ago
Cathar comes from the Greek: καθαροί, katharoi, "the pure [ones]"
They built on the dualistic theology of Manichaeism
Which they blended with the eastern Christianity of Byzantium
They were ascetic: believing the material world was the evil realm of Satan

Whilst the world of the spirit was the b...

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Private lives

I am not the man I think I am.
On the wild and rocky coasts
On these isles by the sea of shame
Mists roll in off the Irish sea
Soak these shores with hardy flowers
to bloom in crevices, cling to fossil rings, 
too like vermilion skies, the lips of women,
to huddle within sound of summer laughter
Druid priestesses daub their menfolk
with mud as they, too, battle modernity
in all its Roman...

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Locked up north

Third tier anesthesia
In a locked up north,
We keep the life we’re given,
Our store of words aint fled,
Belief? Empty as a music box
Providing housing for the dead;
The bridge twixt give and taking
Has crumpled into dust
And for the cowering people — wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beasties -
Survival is a must.


We struggle to talk as free folk,
We no longer dream of the new Jeru...

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A moment plucked from a past
That cannot last
The tone and timbre of a long-lost voice
Heaven-sent, her voice in my head,
No longer alive, no longer dead. 

The recollected smell of burning gas
On a cold winter's morning, in, maybe, 1965,
When she was so glad to be alive, and kicking.

I am rudely yawning as she warns me
Not to rush
To take my time.

I do not mind her warning, as I s...

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Soul music

Dead men lie the same

Silence is their game.

Their sleeping is a metaphor

For a  life lived w'out shame.

Memorials of stone,

Such a public display

The soul's on its way.

A soul set to roam,

A long goodbye.


The transmigration of souls,

The Hindus' voyage of dharma

The Greeks crossing the Lethe.

Reincarnated endangered species

With  souls fre...

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Photo by Flo Meixner on Unsplash

“Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?” GM Hopkins, ‘Terrible sonnets’ 

On this flaming day in June, such beautiful pagan mountains surround
Your uncertain presence in this bastion of the Jesuits.
I overheard disquisitions concerning the nuts and bolts of poetry
Whilst your real presence crept into my he...

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The Cure



Bracha1 year ago (edited)


"My beautiful mum was suffering from mental illness/heavy depressions back in the eighties and took her own life in 1989 at the age of just 26, when I was only one year old. Today I was going through her old record collection and found a little paper inside The Cure’s Disintegration album sleeve. It was an old handwritten note by her with some...

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City of the Bee


Manchester's home to me
Connects me to the past
My grandfather Jack
Set off from here
For four years
Fighting in France
A dearth of romance
whilst in the trenches
but he were wed
on his safe return
despite all his pals
being dead.

Manchester, forever connected, ironically,  to Ariana Grande
And the 22 dead and 59 wounded.
Manchester were never right good at submission.
Ask ...

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I am not diverse.
I am English
And a man
Father of four daughters
Two sons, one dead.
Three beautiful grandchildren.
Agnostic, questioning, stoic
Almost as good as a woman in bearing pain.
Cancer survivor
Sepsis survivor.
Loyal friend.
Earn my own money
Share money, willingly.
Not diverse at all.
Nor divine
Nor lucky
Nor unluck...

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Crimson & Clover

Now I don't hardly know her
But I think I could love her
Crimson and clover  — Tommy James & The Shondells


Daughters oughter be careful
Of lads who call their home a 'pad' - 
Cos that's just sad.

Flaxen-haired girls must learn to twirl
Their curls so fleetingly -
Well that's as maybe.

Rowdy-as-the-wind lads can do a ton on a BSA
But they canna say 'I do' - 
No matter what the g...

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A whole life spent out of kilter
Every day out of whack
So when the storm hit
And everything went kerflooey
I was ill-prepared.
There’s no going back.
Now, if a little dreaming is dangerous
Is the cure to dream more?
O! I wish you were here:
On this sad, autumn day
When all the words
Just drained away

Leaving me aghast.
With nothing to say.


This inner city cul-de-sac is lit...

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poetry is...

 “Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.” — Carl Sandburg, from The Atlantic, March 1923

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Inside Out

There’s an end to everything:
Birds in the trees, music, family. friends,
Plangent, too deep to keep,
Tempests flare in the mind of man
Foreshadowing those terrible realisations
That we too have followed this same cliff path
Guided by nightly luminosity, stuck in the sheer darkness
Of the day. When mother, father, lover, friend
Have turned away and swooned towards the moon in triumph
Or d...

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Baffling how I 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 Falklands, Belize, Operation Desert Storm
Are with me every day.

Like many men who wore the uniform he's reluctant to see a doctor
“I’ll be reet” he says, “after a bit.”
Where he ser...

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Fear in a handful of dust


Words cannot echo mood,
It’s impossible to convey
The tingling numbnesses
Of the grief I felt today;

The semi-detached daze
Of continuing depression;
The tight closing-in of the dark,
That stark foreshadowing of art..

The fear that accompanies
All that  I do,
Meanders like an ox-bow lake,
Can take years to breach the gate
To the dangerous flood-tide of suicide..


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The wind outside my window
His soul alive just by my chair
A friend you trust implicitly,
A lover who's not there?

A reckoning, that’s obvious,

A memory that’s been falsified
A woman here today
An empty cot at eventide
Who'd say?.

This never-ending circle,
Beginning is the end,
The man who you once trusted,
A friend?

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“I know the life of the world as it is now is not living, it is a bad process of dying.” DH Lawrence

You both died
And I was broken for many, many years.
I can no longer hide from myself
Behind this screen of anonymity:
I have stood in empty spaces,
Walked along the winter beach
Stripped of everything except wind and sand and sea.
I have looked into the summer sky for your blue-blue eyes...

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                                                               Chicago POW camp


History written by the victors
An anthem for the Union dead?
The winds of change
Have blown away legions
Of southern poets and artists:
No longer published, no longer read:
Not all of whom owned plantations
Nor approved of slavery. They just wanted to be free,
Free from the Yankee behemoth to the north.


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Exhausted your contemplation of misery? 
How much is it worth your soul to know?
Evil exists, persists, when it benefits you.
You hope he is just an adventurer who deceives himself.
But, remember, the devil has uncovered himself in his power.
We are all sentenced to death.
Condemned. World without end. 
Are you magnanimous, generous?
Full of the milk of human kindness?
Neither am I. 
Is ...

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Something found

The ease and simple grace
Of this woman who’s died
Cannot be lied about
Cannot be denied.

Her echoing presence
Still sings in my head
Still whispers in my heart,
We’re never alone, never apart

Like the mocking bird’s song:
These mimus polyglottos,
Speak of a hidden art,
Which sings and recreates
Moments of the heart.

Oh! it’s a sin to kill a mocking bird
And it’s a sin to mock ...

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A wise fool


Bewildered at all the things she  left unsaid
serendipity, chances cut dead:
wise enough to play the fool.
on a vicious January night
put out the light, and then put out the light
memory cuts through this taut cold
slices ugly, like a knife grown old and blunt.
I let the future unfold
in signs hidden by an iron fog,
a life lived in vain..
a black hole in time.
everything the same? 


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Early October

hear the waves murmur faraway,
leaves tremble in the cold morning air,
saplings shed golden leaves
over the brown branches vague birds
sing softly
girls laugh in the distance,
dawn has been and gone
light reflected in still water
brightens the sky
countryside pearled with the firstfrost,
high mountains glide into view,
beautiful vague hills of cloud,
this aura is my messenger,
my mood...

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Photo by Edurne Chopeitia on Unsplash


In my cottage in the hills
I am immune to the world’s ills,
or so I like to think.
On evenings of freezing fog,
I throw another log on the fire
watch closely as the flames reach higher,
take another sip of whiskey
stroke the back of my young dog,
Who feels the spirits in the breeze,
pick my book up from the stone cold floor.
Reading ...

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Flash of remembrance on a start again day
the crumbling of memory, time fades away,
the dominant discourse is undoubtedly drear,
the rolling of thunder, the future speaks clear.

Mesmerised masses accept news of the day,
never question those who hold sway,
woke intelligentsia virtue-signal it's true,
they tear up the debt that we owe to the few.

So many people lost, lonely, confused

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One fabulous fabled night,

Deep in the greenwood,

A famous wizard gave us a story without meaning:

Or so it then seemed. At the time

I had parted with my half-secret self,

My twin, embedded in my heart,

But the wizard's prayer awoke me in thin air

Drove us apart,

Tears stained my cheeks. I was no longer meek and mild.

No longer a child.

My heart was broken, like that ...

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Not forgot

As the light fades ever faster,
and the temperature dips
a foreboding grips
as I am recalled
to this dialogue with the dead
that continues in my head.
My grandfather, Jack, had his last pint of mild beer 
in this pub before
embarking for France in late summer 1914.
And his first one back in November 1918.
He remains forever known, never seen.
Now businessmen and women
sit playing with ...

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These streets aren't meant for dreaming



Rain off the Pennines
Soaks me through
As I look for you
In the tower blocks
And the few old terraces left
In this dirty old town.

I am reminded of women
In pinnies, with hair up, 
As they scrub at their step
Before leaving to clean
The houses of the rich
Up on Eccles old road.

Her dazzling smile
Spreads over mile after mile

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Forget-me-not blue,
Blue like an Alaskan blueberry.
Endurance is a flower,
A bulb in winter’s depth,
A rare-repeated wonder:
A sin we must forget.

In this-world-of-my-creation
In this world-of-make-believe:
Cancer, the death of children,
Are fallen autumn leaves. 

 I see a road before me
A road I walk in vain
A road through Trawden Lancashire.
A road's that's not the same..


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Waiting to be born, again

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...

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash


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 ...

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Alderman dies at funeral

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...

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Kicking leaves through dappled sunlight

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
After th...

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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...

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A collection of aphorisms

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...

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Dust motes for Dante Alighieri 1265 - 1321

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...

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Die Wahrheit macht frei ('The truth sets you free')


We are
Visiting Austchwitz
We read 'Arbeit macht frei'
That terrible lie 
For Jewish eyes

We enter
The gates of hell.

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Warmer than blood

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 ...

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Doppleganger contagion

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...

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Northern Sky

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,
My friend:
Quite dest...

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Coffin ships

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...

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A silence

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 ...

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September's rain

(for Vautaw)

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.


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Holy Brokenness

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
To can...

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Bright star

"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 ...

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