Poetry Blog by John Marks

The Stolen Child

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I remember falling  as a child

And being lifted by a fairy-wild

She kissed my cheek and mussed my hair

And then she wasn’t there.

 

Some blind folk see the fairies clear

For faeries are always close or near.

Oh, better far than what we see

Are fairy wings that brush our faces

Like spiders’ webs or shimmering laces

Such magical, lovely, lonely things.

A rustle in the ...

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Riding the Wind

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Those high, dry skies of flaming June

Are in absentia in damp and cold November

For the patterns in the grass do not last.

So, we must take the winding stair into the

High towers above the land of forgetfulness

Where once upon a golden dawn good faeries

Danced a circle of rare delight within the sight

Of John Mulligan who, on the last day of August

1938, according to t...

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Caillteanas buan de sonas

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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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ALL SOULS' DAY

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His headstone verses are writ in water

They  draw the eyes unto the fact of death.

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 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...

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A permanent loss of happiness

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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-forming outcrops, hidden rocks, caves.

Time carves the face of al...

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FAMINE

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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,

Again

And

Again.

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Rainy Day Dream Away

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I loved the rainy morning of my life

And I never think that friendly mountain passes

Will not ferry me away

But  happy times are seldom

And rain runs away.

 

From holiday beach to temptestous sea

I have lost my faith in the indomitable sea.

And I lose my faith in humanity.

 

O! the mechanical movement of the sun

Sunshine blooms and spreads

Like a tender tree

...

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Clone

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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

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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

Jesus.

I  try to speak

But I cannot begin to say...

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Shadows in the dust

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The best of us British fell on the Somme, Verdun, Passchendaele,

Their luckier cousins had 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

The Raj with the spice and opium...

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Winter is Coming

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We wake to the rumbling thunder of blood,
Pumping hearts, twisted hearts, this shadow and I
Squeeze into the thick silences of trees.
Soon 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 into the past:
Generations of suffering: eyes lifted to a cross, a crescent, a...

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Burnham Beeches with Anna, 1985

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the sadness of sundays

persists
even amidst
the various
reds, yellows, browns and golds
of stormy autumn

and as I walk
I have in mind
the fragility of a veined
porcelain
hand

and who am I to resist
this child's
every imperative?

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STASI STATE UK

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Why do you stop me?

Stop me for no reason

What do you think I’m committing?

Treason?

 

I can see from the way

That you look at me

Exactly what you think of me.

You assume, you assume

And you generalise

Why don’t you use your mind?

And your own fucking eyes?

 

Let me tell you, I’m proud if I’m poor,

For I’ve stolen nothing,

Ripped nobody off,

My incom...

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SYD BARRETT 6 January 1946 - 7 July 2006

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Fare thee well you crazy diamond,

The lone piper at the gates of dawn,

An Icarus, a Phoenix, a Painter and

A Poet. Turned away by the mystics,

For too much ‘emotional behaviour’.

You followed nobody’s lead.

Traced the life of the underwear thief,

Arnold Layne. Saw Emily play.

Cut your teeth on mescaline.

Lived another day.  'Fame'

Provoked a sarcastic sneer.

For th...

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Looking Up and seeing nothing

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Curtains tightly drawn

Voices scream in my face:

Eternity out of place.

Wind roaring around my head

Silence,  shush! the watery dead.

Old kindness fails

As usual

Tenderness will no longer do

 

Addicted to kindness

He just faded away.

My friend, died today.

 

This man's ties are looser

Alone on an empty shore,

Listening to the tiny oceans

roar

...

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Clipper Ship

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What a pea-souper fog in London town

Today all those rich men with their top hats

And their pasted on holier-than-thou frowns

On guard as they queue for the child brothel

On Jerome Street – so clean, so ordinary, so neat.

 

Edgar Allan Poe's tell-tale heart, his dream of America

Freedoms Europeans could never keep: The Grateful Dead

The wide open prairies and the Atlan...

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Falling in time

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This audio does not support your DNA

What is your derivative today?

In this curve of time

We need a degree of differentiation

To establish our rate of change

With respect to time.

There are a number of ways

To fix this derivative:

In the end they all amount to the same

Number.

 

In the fourth dimension

The gradient of the curve

Is flat, time is still still,

...

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Zoroaster

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Synaesthesia

Filled your eyes with music

From the plunging depths

To the screaming heights

Such plangent affirmations

Even from the Queen of Night.

Soaring, soaring out of sight

Then swooping back to earth

Again, this Am-a-deus,

This man-beyond-bounds

This man-beyond-reach,

Heavenly arias tumbling from his soul, his brain

A-flame

We will never see his li...

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The Shoah of us all

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Concrete walls

Chucked up

 

A palace after the in-laws

He’d shipped West

Africans from the Gold Coast to Burma to fight

The Japs. Sunk, he was, three times, no bugger

Thought to teach him to swim.

No bugger taught him anyfuckingthing.

 

We played all around where we lived

Belting down the double hill to see me aunty (well her Alsatian, Prince)

On a three-wheeler

...

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Gerard SJ

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On this flaming day in June, with such beautiful pagan mountains

Rising all around, I felt your uncertain presence buckle in this

Bastion of the Jesuits. I listened, and you, doubtless, overheard,

Disquisitions concerning the nuts and bolts of your poetry whilst your

Real presence crept slowly into my heart. Your journey of renunciation

Saw you washed up on many steep and rocky, gri...

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EZEDI

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Winter on Mount Sinjar in 2014

By the Christian calendar

That year lasted forever:

Such a  long, long time,

Centuries, millennia, decades, years

Our mouths expelled a hidden heat

The soul of the Ezedi.

 We worship the sun.

Never before has the sun

Filled us full of tears.

 

The torturers arrived  in the night

Stole our daughters, killed our sons

The Sala...

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To write

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On a night like tonight

The words:

 

Girls, gin, thin

dispersed

 

Like a foggy pea-souper

On the Kentish marshes

 

Charlie Dickens told us

 

That

 

Gin has a rosy 

Gas light 

Glare and Glow

See it sitting there

Tasting so.

 

Give the shade a bottle

Green swirling glass

sup it by the neck

Nothing lasts

 

Aye. That'll ...

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ALF

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His garden was slightly uneven, slightly tiered

From early February's putting on of scattered beauty -

Snowdrops and crocuses -

Through a cascade of shade and colour

His garden bloomed throughout the growing year.

So-many forget-me-nots:

Wild primroses, crocus and aubrietia 

Then larkspur, delphinium and the beautiful bluebells

Carnations, cornflower and iris

Tier after ...

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A waste of time

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I do not drink 

But I am living under this mountain

That might crush the life out of me

Any time, any day

So, I drink anyway.

 

 Lucifer, Brightest of Bright Angels, stuttered out

"'I will not serve!'”

And that is enough, and more than enough, for me

To condemn all the big words like ‘humanity’.

 

I will not serve that in which I no longer believe

Whether it ca...

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Charlie

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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

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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

Time,

penumbra-beginning ho...

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Brimstone and tar

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Swirls of smoke

Swirls of smog

Breed pestilential marshlands

No Turner landscape this

Church bells only useful for

announcing mass-

acres of the dead.

 

Sin shine like black pavements under gaslight

Look! a broken green-tinged laudanum bottle

Tincture of nightmare

Assail me, roast me, strip me

Float me

This cemetery with its wrought iron gates 

Me lo...

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Northern Sky

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The silk road into Macclesfield

The sundry stops, and stinks,

The rising into fury

The slinking into think.

The edge of trees and wildings

The glazing of the sun

The rising sniff of wolverine

The moon falls to the Son.

The mix of flesh and friendship

The rising up of love

The game of death and

The rising of the dove

The beginning of the end

My friend

This ...

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¡No Pasarán!

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"If liberty  means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they don't want to hear." George Orwell

 

Morning maniac music

Shakes me awake

The regular guys

Those who once brought hope

Where hope is now a disguise.

 

Over the mountain, the clouds scud away

Blood on the floor

Blood in the soul

All those refugees

Waiting for your house

For sanctua...

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INFANT MORTALITY

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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.

Shadow-fall

Penumbra: winter tree

Stripped.

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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ALMOST ANNIVERSARY

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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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By accident

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There's a ten ton truck

Coming my way

But nothing happens by accident

But I am on my phone

Let's sing together

It'll go away

 

I scream all alone,

Fall into the opposite of mystic

Sink

Into the zone of the real

Dark river flowing

Through my veins

And I moan

like...

Patrick Kavanagh

In a wet Monaghan field

Not stoned, not  on his seat

But d...

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A splash of yellow across a sometime sky

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When I was a boy, a nipper, a kid

Wild flowers on a concrete waste

Flowers

Rooted in the cracks along the road

For me

A slash of yellow beneath the sun

We prisoners see her

Gaze in awe, saw what was really

Always there: the beauty that is

 Life beneath man’s

Deadly abominations: plastic, concrete

 

Streams into these brooks running

Beneath the few trees that ...

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Bright Star

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Every day regardless of the goodness or evil lurking in my soul

I see these kipper skies, placid blue occasionally, but much more

Like the skies of Turner and how the skies of the young Mozart

(And he was forever-young) might have seemed when he was adding

Note to bloody note to produce the magnificence of the Requiem or the Magic

Of the Flute. This is a privilege and a God-given pi...

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In Praise of

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In praise of the refusers

Those who never bend

For only in opposition

Will you always find a friend.

 

In praise of the contrary

Who refuse to bend the knee

To the cultured, rich and ugly

But who'd rather worship me.

 

In praise of sceptical believers

Who can always see both sides

Who never want to be open

Yet never want to hide.

 

In praise of those wh...

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END TIME

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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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Haiku

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feeling empty

a leaf on a tree

enough for me.

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Haight-Ashbury

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Rose, the loveliest of pagan naming,

She can see clear to another day

1967 and the Hippy trails

That landed us in Golden Gate Park

Palo Alto was

Looking for a revolution

And this is it:

No empty-headed technologies either

Still no silicon in the valley yet

Just a box of rain

 

Such a long-long time to be gone.

And a short time to be there.

So, God don't check...

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Morecambe, 1971

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The red glow of our one-bar electric fire

Reflected on our hardly bearded faces

The multi-coloured music of curved air

Synaesthesia rampant, the sweet smell

Of burning Lebanese hashish everywhere

That thick and smoky sweet sweet air.

Nick Drake still alive amongst

The flat-lands of Cambridgeshire

Five leaves left was a common currency  

And me the lad from the North Coun...

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Twin compasses

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(To John Donne)

 

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 no more time for the mere indulgences of strife.

We look too muc...

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Late spring

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Green in all sorts of shades

Contrasts with the burgeoning of blue: grape hyacinth, cornflowers, forget-me-nots

Too soon for my favourite, delphinium

The sky too is blue, grey, white, black, swirling

Chiaroscuro, nature echoing art:Turner's kippered skies

Beneath which my green heart, so full of love for the simple

Decencies of human nature. Look! hills, weeds, nests, trees.

S...

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Generation 27

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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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No retreat, No surrender

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These smokey terraces are my home town

People from across the world

Now share my home:

Huguenots and Flemish weavers remembered in the names of pubs.

The Irish fleeing famine: the O'Donnells and O'Neills,

Ashkenazi Jews escaping the Czarist pogroms: the Cohens and the Rabinowitz.

Later came the Afro-Carribeans, the Patels from India and Pakistan,

Hindus and Chinese opened rest...

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Dance, dance

up those stairs, so long ago,

your voice pumps out

telling us what love will do

how you will tear us apart

some sit up listening forever

others cannot abide the way

you hide the man you are. love will

tear us apart again.

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Roll Away the Stone

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She cried as if she was three again

This competent, clever, caring woman

Her practice is all emergency work now

Mental illness, deserted children, scattered souls,

Spice, Meth, Horse

Foul defilements, rapes, violence, tears.

People living in fear

Do you hear?

People scared to fall asleep

You! who live in the comfort zone,

Of pensions, savings,income drawdown

 Do yo...

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STUTTERER

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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, 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 brought up ...

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Al-Andalus

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Arabic spoken in Al-andalus

after 400 years of the inquisition.

Muslim houses in Bosnian villages

with crosses on display despite the threat of apostacy.

 

"And slay them wherever ye find them."

 

morning fresh as one –

the Buddha knew –

the flowers of the valley

grasses of the plain

shine with the unbidden light of heaven

nothing shall remain.

 

The futur...

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The foggy, foggy dew

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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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Dreamtime

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A weight is lifted unexpectedly as we look at each other

You, in your brilliant femininity, me in my thorough-going loss.

I thought love was going to sustain me for life.

The loss of all that regularity failed me

Left me bereft upon a far-shore

And so the door into the rose garden finally closed

And I saw what was really always there

Denying the light,  frosty richness of happ...

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Drinking where the river bed is dry

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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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Recent Comments

John Marks on END TIME (9 days ago)

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Philip Stevens on A permanent loss of happiness (Wed, 1 Nov 2017 10:13 pm)

Martin Elder on A permanent loss of happiness (Sun, 29 Oct 2017 02:15 pm)

Tom Doolan on A permanent loss of happiness (Sun, 29 Oct 2017 08:57 am)

Hannah Collins on A permanent loss of happiness (Sat, 28 Oct 2017 10:00 pm)

Wolfgar Miere on FAMINE (Sat, 21 Oct 2017 08:14 am)

John Marks on Winter is Coming (Sun, 8 Oct 2017 06:39 pm)

Cynthia Buell Thomas on Winter is Coming (Sun, 8 Oct 2017 12:50 pm)

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John Marks on The Shoah of us all (Sat, 23 Sep 2017 12:12 am)

Wolfgar Miere on The Shoah of us all (Sun, 17 Sep 2017 09:31 pm)

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