Photo by Ben White on Unsplash


My hesitancy has bothered me for a long time

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 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’, I said.

But it was, I was brought up to be brave but inside I was bruised and battered.

Young, only young.

I tried to pity my accusers: so narrow of soul, so clipped of speech, so incapable of reach.

I had my brother Pete, now so-long dead, and my sisters two,

Us council estate kids, we mocked the rich kids,

Knowing how little they knew.

If an aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick,

This son-of-an-orphan remembers it.

Granddad Jack who’d been a machine gunner

On the Somme in 1916

He didn’t say much: smoked Woodbines, didn’t read books,

Denied every pitying look, every cutting word, every condescending bending of the neck

The centuries of insincerity that have delineated class relations

In this fucked-up country:

Beautiful John Clare, William Blake and Charlie Dickens

I write it out in a verse

Differently-abled stutterers, terse.

We poets arise from the dirt

From the same class that I feel an unending commitment to

The dispossessed, the prisoners, all the spice-island-rough-traders:

All this vast, inglorious shipwreck of life’s esteems.

◄ Semiotics

Trilobite ►


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John Marks

Sun 10th Nov 2019 20:19

Thank you Kate, Cathy and Hannah. Your support means a lot to me. John

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Hannah Collins

Sun 10th Nov 2019 17:00

This is a wonderful poem. One to be read many times. Says so much.


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Sun 10th Nov 2019 16:30

John, You have such a gift to transport the reader into the world of your writing. Thank you for sharing. It's a treat to go on these poetic adventures with you! 💖

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Kate G

Sun 10th Nov 2019 13:13

John, this was great. I like the idea that sincerity finishes with rising status. I'm sure I'll come back to this again.

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