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John Marks

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Born in the north of England. Lived on a council estate in south Manchester before living in London and elsewhere. Now live in Manchester. Two poetry collections: 'Sound Bites' (Envoi, 1992) and 'Lifting the Veil' (NHI, 1997). Other poems scattered around magazines and online (HQ, Lines Review, The English Review, Candleabrum, Acumen, Zimmerzine, Thomas Hardy Journal etc). The experience of fighting cancer has done me the favour of encouraging me to focus upon the here and now, but history still grips my soul. History is the texture and the mystery of every moment that has ever happened.


एक हिंदू आशीर्वाद These smokey terraces are my home town People from across the world Now share my home, some invited, some not. Flemish weavers brought their skills and are remembered in the names of pubs. The Irish fleeing famine and genocide built our canals and filled our churches. Ashkenazi Jews fleeing the Czarist pogroms built businesses and synagogues. Later Muslims from rural Sind came for the night-shifts Brits didn't want to work Hindus and Chinese opened restaurants: look at Chinatown, walk the curry mile. Yoga and temples, meditation and dharma, The open Gurdwaras Welcome all. But now we're faced with a black, black wall The world has brought us The nuts and bolts of terror: The slaughter of the innocents We say (and some pray) "This evil will not break our spirit nor drive us apart. There will be no war of each against each, at least not on my part". Will these smokey terraces leach away our broken hearts? Teach those Jihadis that the promise of heaven Is nowt more than the blackest of the black arts? 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 the Pack, little knowing that the human herd is what I find Most offensive, most absurd. I try to fly past those nets Of race, nationality and religion. A new Daedalus come To cry: “my medium is the heavens, my medium is the sky.” But we walk slower and slower each day, me clearing Up his shit, him watching the dreary Manchester sky Melek Taus Fear grips her heart The heart of the prisoner As the evening approaches And her blind-fold slips. Surreptitiously She begins to shake She remembers Mount Sinjar And the wicked Salafists Mocking the life-giving sun. Now so many Ezedi women Enslaved by the Jihadis' gun: And still the west does not come. The cherry tree Those bloody dead That debt we owe Abide with me Don’t let me go. That mocking voice These clever folk Display their wit In the cutting joke. That tree that grew These shady nooks That dappled sunlight These gilded brooks. For men may come to worse than dust When love of country is breach of trust.

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.

Audio entries by John Marks

Generation 27 (25/05/2017)

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एक हिंदू आशीर्वाद (24/05/2017)

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Brownstone (20/05/2017)

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Roll Away the Stone (19/05/2017)

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STUTTERER (12/05/2017)

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Survival of the Fittest (06/05/2017)

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Well wadded with stupidity... (04/05/2017)

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MCMXIV (25/04/2017)

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The foggy, foggy dew (21/04/2017)

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Lancaster (15/04/2017)

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More audio from John Marks…

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Dominic James

Mon 13th Feb 2017 13:40

Hi John

Just come across your home page and blog, I hope the collection is going well, let me re-word comment on Byzantine - I retreat rapidly before your superior knowledge!

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Tue 14th Jun 2016 12:51

I'll make an effort to check more of your work. I like your ideas. Besides, my eyes work better now.

I live in Sale. You might like to try the WOL evening at Sale Waterside which meets next Tuesday; it's a widely varied group, and very friendly.

I'm going to be so embarrassed if you've already been out and I've not recognized your name.

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Patricia and Stefan Wilde

Thu 26th Aug 2010 22:05

Good evening John-'Fog at sea'..brilliant! your work is a 'must read' without doubt-and very much intend to do so-hope your health improves and quickly-thank you John-best regards-Stef

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Ann Foxglove

Tue 27th Apr 2010 00:31

I think your poem is really good. I esp like the last verse. To be able to write about this sort of subject in such a no-nonsense straight way makes it all the more touching. Hope your better health continues and hope to see more of your stuff on WOL.

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