Monday, 14 June 2010

re A hectic June/July...

Hi all

Well, it's that time of year... and I'm pretty bogged down with exam marking work (on top of my full-time teaching job) so I'll be out of bloggy action for a couple of months. This year I'm marking 2 GCSE papers... R.S. and Citizenship (yikes!) Also, I'm still busy looking for more suitable/permanent work against September (fingers crossed, something turns up soon:) And, my MA Poetry portofolio is due at some point this Aug/Sept. Talking poetry... I leave you with a link to an e-book, an anthology of experimental poems titled 'If I knew where poems came from' by MMU creative writing students. Do have a look... as some of my poems feature in this anthology (plus there are other very inspired reads in the collection). Hope you enjoy the read until I'm back online. Hope to resurface properly by early August after a long weekend in Cornwall (my treat after an exhuasting couple of months). I will stay connected reading and commenting on blogs when I can. Cheers.


Sunday, 6 June 2010

re Wirral Photos!

re Update on Wirral Walk

It’s taken a while to blog about my recent charity walk of 23rd May. Fully recovered, here goes...

After making the 1-hour or so train journey from West Kirby (where the B&B was located) to New Brighton station, we proceeded to make our way towards Seacombe Ferry on foot. This was the start point for the 15 mile walk. What a mistake! Walking along the coastal front, it was as we were walking against a tide of thousands of walkers that we realised that something was not quite right. Trying to stay positive, I hoped that the start point wouldn’t be a long way off despite the fact that we’d asked a helpful lady what the distance was from the start. She’d replied that it was ‘a long way off’. My walking partner was getting visibly irritated at our mistake. Fifteen minutes turned into half an hour, and this in turn became 45 minutes. It took a good 4 miles in the steaming heat just to register in order to commence the walk. Not the best way to start an epic trek (grin!). Anyway, we got ourselves registered (just in the nick of time too), as the deadline was 11 am and we were stamped in at 10:45 am. After a brief pep talk, we both managed to get ourselves into the right frame of mind for the journey ahead of us.

In spite of the ropey start, it turned out to be an absolutely glorious day. This coastal walk meandered from Seacombe Ferry through New Brighton, Meols, West Kirby and finishing up at Thurstaston Country Park. Surprisingly, the terrain was varied and arduous in parts. We trampled across asphalt, sand and woodland. I found the sand (about halfway through the route) the most difficult to navigate through. Walking on sand for a lengthy stretch was incredibly wearing on the legs, even though, it was beautiful walking along the coastline of some truly gorgeous Wirral landscape. As I powered on, my walking partner (a 10 time marathon runner), laden with a bag full of fruit and water, had more time and energy to take in the spectacular scenery and snap some photos. All I had to do, was to focus on my pace as I aimed to clock in a time of under 4.5 hours. My earlier training suggested that I could do it, and indeed, the two months training paid off. I crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 15 minutes. Hurrah. What an achievement for me, who has been slowly regaining my general health and wellbeing over the last couple of years, and who has been out of a gym for almost a year with lower back pain and tendonitis.

The highlights of the day... the fab vibe of the 5000+ walking community that took part in this walk, a wonderful array of young, old and four-legged; the varied and interesting route even sporting a lighthouse mid-way; meeting a dear blogger friend of mine en-route (J who lives in the locality spotted me in the red Action Aid T-shirt and came up, introduced himself and said ‘hi’); scoffing a couple of ice creams to cool down; a much needed loo break in a designated men’s toilets (yep, the ladies had taken over ALL the toilets in sight (lol)); not developing any blisters, although I was well prepared with Compeed - a suggestion of a Birmingham friend of mine who’d recently completed a tough hill walk challenge raising money for Endometriosis UK; and my finishing time. The only negative was possibly walking in the searing heat for 4+ hours. And in fact, much to my surprise, I suffered from sunburn - sore and peeling skin for days after. Oh dear, I looked dreadful. Normally, I tend to steer clear of the sun, so I guess my rather delicate skin took a real roasting (no pun intended) and I suffered for it. I didn’t realise how affected I was until I took a shower later that evening and felt a prickly sensation across my forehead, nose and neck. On closer inspection, I saw the darkened wrinkled blotches. Thank God for my dark colouring which meant that I didn’t turn a humming red as my walking partner did (he too had failed to take a hat!) So that’s the lesson for next year... take a hat!

On this occasion, so far I have raised about £450 to be split between two organisations - Action Aid and PDI International. My ultimate goal is to raise £1000 this year to be shared between the two charities and I hope to do another event later this year to meet this target. Huge thanks to all those who have supported my Wirral Walk endeavours. Your contributions will go so far to the HIV/AIDS work of Action Aid and PDI International. Those of you who would still like to support this effort, it’s not too late... you can make an offline or online donation. Follow the link or contact me for more information on how to do so. Those of you unable to sponsor this effort, I hope you might be able help me meet my £1000 target by supporting my autumn endeavour. Stay tuned for what I’ll be doing next. Once again, thank you... thank you... thank you... for all your support!


Thursday, 20 May 2010

re Pumpkin Moon

Chases my inky form or am I following it?
I’m reminded of pumpkin moon lodged
in Omoba sky; under which my young

fanny was fingered by Uncle Innocent’s paws.
On frayed mat in a camphor tinged room,
I wriggled; bewildered, until my movements
became bound by the spell of magic moon.

Now: I imagine pumpkin moon has the power
to reach into my skull and crack its wall,
scattering the pips of dormant gloom. It near-
succeeds, tugging the corners of Vaselined lips.

Catherine Mark

Sunday, 16 May 2010

re Countdown

Today’s training was an easy 2-hour amble... the wind down (in terms of training) before the big day next Sunday (23/5). Through a local forest land, it was lovely walking through the embrace of the warmish May sun among the chorus of chirping birds. I must say that after almost two months of active training and one month of fundraising, I am really excited about next week’s walk. So far, I’ve raised between £450 and £500 (to be split between two charities)... quite a way off from my £1000 goal. But as I started my fundraising efforts quite late to meet this optimistic target, I’m hoping to pick up some last minute donations over the next few weeks. Also, it’s likely that I will probably commit to another event in August/September to raise the difference in donations needed to hit the £1000 mark for this year’s fundraising goals. Well, I will be writing again and posting some photos on the other side of the walk. Many thanks for all your well wishes, support and donations.


ps If any of you are in the Wirral area... I'll be the one in the red Action Aid T-shirt... do wave or come over and say 'hello'!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

POEM: Cube of blue

In this aquarium room;

metallic bile rises

- Yvonne’s death at

thirty-five, a red-ribbon noose,

marriage meltdown - loss

climbs on loss, like rats

scrabbling on rats

in this blue cube...

where the only sweetness

rising is the scent

of sawdust, a reminder of a time

before cubed blue.

Catherine Mark

Monday, 3 May 2010

POEM: Last laugh

Last laugh

The goat with a slit throat,

tongue lolls, blood droplets

form burnt skin blisters

on baked Omoba soil.

My witchdoctor grandfather

cuts up the carcass, spending hours

cleaning, praying and cutting

as the stink of goat douses the air.

Seven-year-old eyes transfixed

by the smirk on the goat’s face.

This sufferer with mirth

as his song – has he breathed

his last chuckle, or has Imo miri

thrown him a lifeline?

*Imo miri - God of the Sea

Do stay connected with my Wirral Walk training updates HERE. This week's entry is titled 'Upping the ante' :)

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Update on my Training

Training under an April Sunday shower!

Today’s training was hard hard hard! I set off with my trainer friend, Al, at 11:30 am. Although, there was some promise of a splendid sunny Sunday, the skies gave way to a downpour midway through our 4-hour walk. It took us two hours to walk along the canal from Manchester City Centre to Sale (a pleasant suburb in Greater Manchester). In the dry part of the afternoon, it was lovely to share the wonderful sunshine with ducks, fishermen, all manner of narrow boats meandering past, runners, joggers and other walkers. It really was bliss! However as we arrived Sale the droplets turned into downpour and at this point, we did a U-turn and pressed on homeward bound. My pace slowed down, and Al (a hard task master) was on my case to keep up my pace. But the sludge and slippery pavings at various points on the course made it difficult for me to maintain my pace (well, that’s my excuse anyway :) By the 3-hour mark, I could feel a dull ache in my legs and the sharp pain jabbing my feet. (I’m still struggling with feet issues which is being managed by regular Podiatry and Physiotherapy clinics - apparently my ongoing tendonitis/foot/lower back problems are a result of my aging flat feet/damaged nerves). By the 3 1/2-hour mark, my lower back started on me and it took every ounce of energy to complete today’s training. It was agony!!! For my efforts, I managed 12 miles in 4-hours. I really need to up the anti next weekend, if I am to complete the 15-mile walk in May in 5 or 6 hours (being more realistic) as opposed to spending an entire day completing the route (lol). I must find an extra 1.5 hours in me to succeed in this walking challenge (yikes!)

All in all, my training hasn’t been too bad in the last four weeks or so. Prior to going back to full-time teaching, I was managing TWO 1.5 to 3 hour walks a week. Since returning to work, I am walking the 40 minutes each way to the school and then committing to a long walk on Sunday. Well, just under a month to go... so, keep supporting me through reading my updates and/or sponsoring me online (or via post). I really appreciate all your support and well wishes!

Until my next post...


Sunday, 18 April 2010

POEM: Textures

On the windowsill

sits a feathery cactus

bulb and a silken candle.

Tidying fly-away braid

neatly beneath headscarf, I watch

yolk gel escape

into a milk jug.

A minute or so later,

heated gloop becomes

spongy eggs.

Beside the pan: creased silver

foil envelops flesh of freshly

baked bread.

For the meal later:

rice grains washed twice

in sieve, gravelly cr-ra-cr-ra

grating wired nerves while a few

grains scurry down


beneath tap

water, stream of cold

and smooth like the smooth sheet

which wrapped slothful curves - tangled

between thighs and whys? - the night

before in my lover’s den.

Catherine Mark

Monday, 5 April 2010

POEM: Bananas and buzzards

I’ll race you to Oyiboland

where we’ll feast on

bananas and buzzards...

is what I might have said to my boy

cousin whose hands were chained

to a pole in the middle of our Umugbede


chained up all day and all night,

he cussed all night and all day.

Mad, he was.

Catherine Mark

Friday, 26 March 2010

Poem: Guinea Fowl

This is one I'm reworking...

He traipses along with dog in tow
splattering of black and beige dancing

about feet. On his back rests a guitar
wrapped in bizarre colourful sarape.

Within minutes the pair arrive their daytime
destination: Sainsburys. He unpacks his tool –

begins to strum a stream of dated tunes,
bringing to life 1980s ghouls. Eight o’clock:

humanity ascends, fills the streets like humming
midges; man in tweed coat, paunched woman

with crucifix dangling from her throat, veiled woman
pushing silent pram. In the foreground: youth bristle

a gregarious animation of rooks. And he remains
unnoticed, a guinea fowl foraging beneath soggy leaves.

Catherine Mark

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Walking the Wirral...

On Sunday 23rd May 2010, I will be participating in the Wirral Coastal Walk to raise money for two charities - Possible Dreams International (PDI) and an Action Aid project. The goal is to raise £ 1000 (or more) to be split equally between the two organisations!

Possible Dreams International, Inc. ( is a non profit organisation with a lion’s heart. Their vision statement is “to empower communities in areas of deep and immediate need throughout the world. Through the organisation and financing of community based projects and the raising of awareness regarding issues such as endemic disease, poverty and malnutrition we aim to bring tangible hope into the lives of those for whom the flame of hope seems to flicker on the brink of extinction.”

As a grassroots organisation they “work intimately with community leaders to empower and engage individuals as they walk the road to self- sufficiency. This is achieved through distinct community and family based projects.” To read about some of their recent projects go to: and!

With a commitment to ending poverty Action Aid UK aims “to improve people’s lives every day. But we know that’s not enough. So we work relentlessly to change whatever is keeping them trapped in poverty.This means we have a better chance of ending poverty for good.” For example ActionAid in Burkina Faso: “Focuses on helping families to improve their farming techniques, improving access to health and education, and helping women to generate new sources of income. We have helped establish gardens in schools. One initiative has set up a drying unit to process local fruits and vegetables for sale at market. We support community-run health and HIV & AIDS awareness campaigns, and are working to improve local health services. We also support adult education projects to help adults learn literacy and communication skills and how to access local services.” To find about more about the work and projects of Action Aid go to:!

The hope is that the monies raised from this walk will go towards supporting a PDI HIV project in Swaziland and an Action Aid HIV project.

For more information on how to support my efforts please contact me via email. Or visit:-

My Action Aid: Wirral Coastal Walk!

I hope you stay connected with my training and fundraising endeavours towards this event.

Catherine x

Monday, 22 February 2010

re POEM 30

Well folks... I’ve done it! A poem a day, for thirty days... hurrah :) Gosh, what an endeavour but its been great fun doing this bit of fundraising for Haiti. I raised £100 from a single sponsor who inspired the project. But, of course... all your support in reading and commenting has equally supported me in this journey. So, thank you all... so very much! Btw, the money raised will go to Haiti via Action Aid (a charity that I remain committed to - as I sponsor a child in Lesotho through them, and I have done a 10K for them too, in the past). Well, just to let you know that this isn’t the end of the story... as some of the poems that were conceived during this process will be reworked for my MA portfolio in due course. That's all for now...

Banana spider

His photograph hung

for a year at the Urbis

locked in a dark frame

matching thick Latin brow.

Long delicate lashes

tickling time squeezed

into air-tight jam jar. His breath,

damp and dangerous;

his sting far-reaching, untapped

wet bite slides on slippery angles

of glass separating us. Every

day for a year I visited Banana

spider in his rectangular mount,

thinking I was safe from his fount.

Catherine Mark

Sunday, 21 February 2010

re POEM 29

Identity II

plantain and yam porridge,
goat pepper soup, okra or okazi
stew coaxed from mother’s kitchen
on special days;

on other days: pear pancakes
sprinkled with lemon and sugar,
peanut butter and jam on thickly cut
bread from a Beit Hanina store, or a bowl
of warm milky porridge with a swirl of honey
stirred in -

stir memories from another place,
another time; a timeless place
where the kitchen table funneled
wafts like grandmother’s tales
told under clamorous darkness as we sat

around on a straw mat in the veranda of our Omoba
summer house, always before she’d drop off; her head
bopping, swollen lips drooling, her snores
deepening, lengthening...

until her morning Milo. Like grandmother's cryptic
sleep-face, my identity is as obscure as a can of Malt.

Catherine Mark

Saturday, 20 February 2010

re POEM 28

Deansgate Platform

Sipping tepid coffee, Amante
and I trample over footbridge, descend stone stairway,
and rest black bike against platform bench; hard,

unlike the hint of his Jean Paul Gaultier
perfume tickling my cold nostrils; warm, familiar.

Thoughts interrupted:

by a woman in her sixties pacing
with a pinched ‘I’ve just missed a train’
expression; her short booted strides
clunk concrete. Her bright pink coat
and ash-grey layered cut gives me chuckle,

Growing old gracefully? I suppose. Just as I am; snagged
in sequined net of romance on Deansgate platform.

Catherine Mark

Friday, 19 February 2010

re POEM 27

The city’s tunnels

Between Balloon Street
and Miller Street, a network
of tight-lipped subways and bricked-up
air raids occupy the ground below;

shelters which once served Victorian
Mancunians with tunnels linking hidden
dwellings, shops and bunkers. These cellar
dwellars also used busy waterways
as launch points for steam and ferry travel.

In steamier times, around the mid-1930s, these cruising
travelers would have passed arches (built into the Irwell
embankment) heaving with wine merchants, silk-dyers,
printers and cabinet makers - all clacking their cajoles.

Today, the chatter of these sellers is muted -
buried in the city’s tunnels and cellars.

Catherine Mark

Thursday, 18 February 2010

re POEM 26

In search of clarity

Curved desk lamp curves
allows eco-light bulb to shimmer,

it flashes against lavender screen
of MacBook, specked with stars

mirroring a slice of spiral galaxy
evaporating deep into cyberspace.

In the foreground: an email in Italic
script and 12-point font size;

an email to Him asking
for clarity in this grit clogged

intimacy. Like clean sheets now stained,
giving off a smell of rotten oyster

mushrooms, this email leaves a sour
taste on thick stale tongue.

Catherine Mark

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

re Poem 25


Thin cutting pain;
sharp stab - stabbing
the arch of my flat left
foot, vestige of three-

hour Sunday walk along
Manchester's cloudy canals ending
in Castlefield basin where narrow boats
(enveloped by night-life chaff) moor
as if sleeping the winter away.

Left brain responds to jabbing pain:
says, it corresponds to knotted
tissues of a relationship in knots;
where conversations around whether
the sofa-bed in the second room should be out

or not; and heated discussions over house hygiene
rules bubble over. If only Men are from Mars
and Women are from Venus could resolve
this current of conflicting egos. If only
marriage was as simple as tiffs over questions
such as 'Does my bum look big in this?' If only
matrimony was not bristly like tendonitis.

Catherine Mark

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

re POEM 24


A pile of these organisms
pool to form an organic Loch Ness

latching on to miles and miles
of time spent in trial and error,
stops and starts, take-off and failure:

an unkind tone; a lie which morphed
into another lie and breathed a lateral
contrived existence -

this frozen pool of regrets fractures;
deep wounds refusing to heal.

Some call them learning curves,
others coin them mistakes of a kind,
whatever term of endearment is used,
the bottom line is that more often than not -
regrets tend to rot the gut.

Catherine Mark

Monday, 15 February 2010

re POEM 23

In search of Blue Pearl

Rise and fall of breath,
each breath carries sacred words
and syllables; a dinghy
on steady stream calming
tumbling hot thoughts:

Haahm (inhale) saa (exhale)
Haahm-saa Haahm-saa Haahm-saa
Haahm (inhale) saa (exhale)
Haahm-saa Haahm-saa Haahm-saa...

bound energy uncoils
from saddle of spine
(interrupted intermittently
by a chattering consciousness)
until shaft of blue ascends
to the other self - blue pearl.

Catherine Mark

Sunday, 14 February 2010

re POEM 22

Greek mezze

platter of mini-
dishes: olives, humous,
aubergines, Feta cheese,
brushed with olive oil
and paprika; reminiscent

of Kefalonia home-grown taverna
tucked under Cephalonica trees,
the wafts and the mandolin-
strumming crooner transports
this basement Manchester eatery
into a sea turtle’s haven until Valentine
stomach is stuffed silly.

Catherine Mark

Saturday, 13 February 2010

re POEM 21

Inspired by a walking tour that I and hubby went on today...

The Smiths’ Manchester

fingerprints of murky murders
on moors in 1960s industrial decay,

bleak macabre bogey-man
surged out of Gorton soil

usurping grey-blue skies
into an eddy of raw-red scene,

against community of black tears
unsure of the lyrics of this intruder

in their midst - synonym of silent
nurseries, a final wave and ‘Bye mam’,

or fag-end squashed outside night-
club where Suffer Little Children

would play decades later
in jangly post-punk groove.

Catherine Mark

Friday, 12 February 2010

re POEM 20


Bright flag flaps
high on pole
disappearing with clouds
the shade of coal.

The gnomes below
in circus colours
loop the ground, round
and round in crop circle

puzzle. Lingering
between the flag and gnomes
is the sweet smell of plantains
from Mother’s kitchen.

Catherine Mark

Thursday, 11 February 2010

re POEM 19

A Salford District

A Foster beer can, Walkers crisp wrapper,
left-hand leather glove and a disabled umbrella
looking like a treehouse crumbled in a Tornado,

scattered by the banks of the canal, strewn
between mottled ducks traveling at yoga pace
with the poise of a sublime Buddha. I even

suspect that these creatures are laughing
with incredulity at the profanity of human
split-second decisions; indifference in this fringe

of cobbled urban space. Or it could be they
are tanked on leaked 4.5% beverage - a leverage
in seeing roses instead of debris.

Catherine Mark

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

re POEM 18

Between Us

an imaginary mercury line
connects his head to my toes,
then zigzags from my knees
to his elbows. Without warning
this strand of silver splices two
egos wrestling with Vegemite,
what-ifs and everyday mites.

Catherine Mark

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

re POEM 17

Swinton church

on Station Road,
beside dark police station, overlooking
what was once the Village Green.

night lights shine over last rites
of ebbing Anglican persuasion;
mimicking a bowl of heaven’s honey

albeit laced with poison -
the poison of apathy packaged
as interdependence and self-preservation

in the vein of the tall steeple, gabled porch,
medieval Gothic flourishes glowering at me.
It’s a strange composition in the midst

of cut-and-paste Pizza shops surrounded by layers
of rubbish spilling over sidewalks, a sense of pride lost
in this place which thrived on coal and swine

in a not too distant past. ‘Where have all
the parishioners gone?’ I ask the Evening Light.
‘Retreated to the cellars’ is the reply.

Catherine Mark

Monday, 8 February 2010

re POEM 16

Hoorah... I'm just over the halfway hump :) Many thanks to all of you who are supporting me in my current fundraising endeavour by reading and leaving a comment. I really appreciate your motivating kudos across the blogwaves :) Thank you, all...

Job hunting

convoluted as tracking
gulper eels across currents
(even if tagged with sensors
sewn into silk skin);

their migration through Atlantic
waters an epic jaunt, similar
to my job search in wintry
economic climate:

chasing jobs on-line,
in local papers, job boards,
pulling networking chords,

slippery... opportunities slip...

though I keep fingers firmly crossed,
in hope of something right
being clinched on time
for end-of-month billing chimes.

The oxygen snuffed, my gills
of survival suffering
from hours poring
over liquid laptop,

under the weight of residual
stress triggered by toxic
game of workplace ‘politics
and chess’; another experience
to survive in this ocean
that is life.

Catherine Mark

Sunday, 7 February 2010

re POEM 15

Training begins

Crook back (made worse
with a two-hour vacuuming
spree yesterday), seethes
in pain, a gravelly crunch,
fierce with each step along
Salford Quays canal pathway.

The metallic scent of white
gulls lined along a jetty
and seaweed-coated debris,
momentarily distracts ache
settled at the seat of my spine.
I exhale, turn slightly and catch

the gaze of a man with a bullish
face and heavy-rimmed frames
nursing a fishing tackle. He nods,
bends to fix his stare on the rods
splayed around his Wellington boots.

Again, I inhale, push my form
forward, resist the temptation
to pause or teeter to a halt; ‘no
pain, no gain’, I clutch this familiar
mantra knowing I must endure three
months of training for the event in May.

Catherine Mark

Saturday, 6 February 2010

re POEM 14


Threaded track trails

from here to somewhere

and back again. The distance

that has crept between us reminds

me of dotted phone poles,

communication masts

and parallel wires bounding

for miles and miles;

a continuum of the ‘here

and now’ dissolving into faded

sepia, like the static on a BT

line, we are nowhere, and the distance

between us continues to swell.

Catherine Mark

Friday, 5 February 2010

re POEM 13

Autumn’s Answer
He who knows nothing doubts nothing (Spanish Proverb)

The hills yawn
gushing daylight dawn

which flood the valleys
as minutes coalesce into hours


the span of Autumn’s glow
flickering in gold glass

between sighing winds
slapping cheeks and thigh

while sweeping coastal
high high high

a spray of raspy white on teal blue
breaks my jump into you.

Catherine Mark

Thursday, 4 February 2010

re POEM 12

Another day

sifting shapes

as if entering night’s half-open lips

shroud of emptied
effort and toil


the passions which carved the day
until darkening skyline
presses city shadows

subdues... extends...
its shady length towards tomorrow


another day of crumpets buttered with bitty

another day filled with Wallace and Gromit
characters at work,

another day of ambitions drifting
like a mistress between the inky line
of today and tomorrow.

Catherine Mark

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

re POEM 11

Sleep apnoea

an irregularity of nature;
an endless mare stealing
sleep, that is before the apparatus
the size of a 1980’s cassette player
became a part of us,


humming mask
intrudes on nuptial nook
regulating shallow breathing,
no longer shaking the walls
of cerebral drama,


a different visitor -
but where is the choice
between the two? I ponder,
as a strange scent of roasted corn
fills the room, mingles with the dramatics
of machine and man
falling into sleep’s well.

Catherine Mark

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

re POEM 10

The Brazilian

lithe length
extended in horizontal
position, enveloped by silk

fired up like a Rocky theme song,
he laughs, twitches a toe
strumming an invinsible steel
-string guitar.

Catherine Mark

Monday, 1 February 2010

re POEM 9

In the Conservatory

Fifty-two boxes goad,
“need unpacking” I mutter
to watching walls - this clutter
collected from five years
living in Birmingham:


flashbacks of whirlwind
romances; cranky colleagues;
illness which lasted months - all
crammed away in storage boxes

brown stacked on brown,
reminding me of boxed
sub-world existences:

boarding schools
nursing homes
psych wards

like yolk within albumen

I am unable to begin to unpack
the memories,

for whatever reason I want
them to stay in the yellow.

Catherine Mark

Sunday, 31 January 2010

re POEM 8

Small talk

is what fills the rooms
these days

punctuated, forced;
hours spent keeping up

appearances of fatigued
dreams stretched

across too many years.
We have become a card-

board cut-out of an original
ideal. The traffic light

no longer green, but
a pulsating amber.

Between the bowl
of milk-soaked muesli,

the baby monitor goes off.
Looking up our gazes meet,

hang in mid-air and I rise
to attend to the bundle

gurgling in the only room
that makes sense.

Catherine Mark

Saturday, 30 January 2010

re POEM 7

... feeling physically, emotionally and mentally fatigued today... it's been an ugly stressful week at work... anyway, I still managed a poem today, trying to maintain my momentum :)


Blood drips
off knife edge
with clarity
in sleep’s windmill,

a screen of smoke apparent,

or revelation of what?

silent red

lost in hours
given to sorting out
recycling bins, de-cluttering
cupboards, washing out stains
on beddings, ironing out
wrinkles in waning relationship

circumcised between crisp linen.

If only dripped blood
did not stain sheets,

if only I could google
our memory map
to find the point of schism.

It is as if the bloodied drops
have accumulated to form
a pool the span of this windmill.

Catherine Mark

Friday, 29 January 2010

re POEM 6


In Aberdeen
or a coastal Welsh town,
I imagine it to be a sanctuary
for the weary and wanderlust
traveller –

where after organic Full English
the eating area will function
as a literary lighthouse
where transients saunter
in to muse over Larkin or Muldoon,
perhaps linger (a cuppa in hand) with Coetzee
or Murakami;

while a subtle chime
sounds above doorway, making
way for footfall rhyme; a stream
of cold-blushed clientele
wrapped in fleece
and wool.

In the late evening: among
sagging book-shelves, a local
poet weaves simile and metaphors
in poetic effervescence; pattering like
soothing summer rain

until an Open Mic session evolves,
evolving to create a world
within itself, as I have
done in the wilds of a Welsh
or Gaelic landscape.

Catherine Mark

Thursday, 28 January 2010

re POEM 5

(a coffee house among many)

Yin-yang haven
hidden among industrial scars
of dearth and dirt…

Inside: inviting sleek-chic graffiti-style
artwork greets; the aroma
of fresh coffee, herbal teas
and home-made cakes tempt

an assorted collection of people:
stout Greek-looking woman
with a Maria Callas headscarf;
two lanky lads engrossed
in a game of solitaire; a brown
lady with a short afro laughing
at full volume with her awkward friend.

Unassuming music ripples
in the background, temporarily
washing away the crystal truth
lodged in my mind;

‘It is over.’

Catherine Mark

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

re What's going on?

Hello all... for those wondering at my sudden flurry of poetic activity - well let me explain - after incessantly moaning about my lack of writing space in recent months and in view of a fast-approaching portfolio deadline... in a bid to stimulate some writing (any writing), a friend has decided to sponsor me if I write a poem a day for 30 days. The money raised will go to charity re Haiti. Wish me luck. And thanks to all those who support my efforts by reading and/or commenting on these poems (do keep in mind that they are all first pennings, hence WIPs :)

re POEM 4

Accordion man

sat on the south-east side
of Piccadilly Gardens,
under the stern silence
of what were originally
Victorian cotton warehouses, now
obscured slightly by contemporary
glass and steel.

clothed in second-hand pass-me-downs,
and a slim scar, only an onyx ring
on his index finger seems
out of place on this forty-something face,
though might be younger,
if life had not dealt him a bitter hand;

handed him a royal flush
or a full house of cards,
a better hand to play
his gift in a London
orchestra. Instead,
head tilted sideways, he maps a fanciful
world with wiry fingers, as shadows
pass without a thought, journeying
towards perfectly stitched lives.

Catherine Mark

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

re POEM 3

Trapped moth

moth-powder trail
on glass pane;

a grey smudge
circles naked candle

fleck, then retreats
again. It reappears,

travelling a parallel
circuit with eye-line;

now a sudden cerulean
as if searching for nature’s

sweet sap along cob-
webbed corners of barren
nuptial box.

Catherine Mark

Monday, 25 January 2010

re POEM 2

Scents of Identity

hair gelled
in signature boy-band

permanent pout
from apricot

She is dressed
in French-chic,
a replica of haute
as if she’s walked
off a Chanel show
in Paris;

her glassy stare
through severe designer
frames catches my gaze
briefly as she unzips
pointy boots…

balanced on one foot,
then the other

she slips both off,

before sauntering
towards the kitchen area,
hollering: “teas, coffees…”
in thick Mancunian twang;

a togged-up faux-pas
of cultural conundrum –
she is no different from moi.

Catherine Mark

Sunday, 24 January 2010

re POEM 1

Cloud 23

From lofty Hilton heights,
floor-to-ceiling windows
reveal urban lights
flash and fade,
resembling space-capsule

circling feast of nightfall

mirrors the sparkle
of frothy Fosters
grasped by weary
fingers that betray fingernails
needing a trim -

Tomorrow, tomorrow,
perhaps I’ll get around
to doing the million and one
things scrawled on my ‘To do list’
now the length of a full month
of not dones:

... pay car insurance
... catch-up call with Elise
... make appointment with dentist
... visit mum at Hathersage
... cut finger and toe nails

Another sip
from near-empty pint,
as my companion
returns to his place

He smiles a smile
which seems to have been
stitched on from birth

I allow the corners of my mouth
to twitch upward, despite
the dull mechanical ache
hammering the seat
of my spine

“You look beautiful” he says

I turn away,
look out into the glittering
page beyond the muted black
and wonder how life
became so confused, complicated.

Catherine Mark

Sunday, 17 January 2010

re Poem


Hybrid moralities

rend through this Northern

nest nuzzled

between Piccadilly

and Ancoats...

Distracting vinyl

and garish plastic

displays in off-beat vintage

boutiques, a new cool

dotted along

enduring cobbles...

On pliant breast,

this nipple of Manchester

cityscape titillates

with its neon milk

ducts along streets running off Victoria

station down to Shudehill...

Feeding senses

like a ubiquitous Babylon.

Catherine Mark

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

re Talking Walls

Another snow day here in Manchester today so cooped up at home... giving me an opportunity to catch up with a number of things including updating my blog. Thought I'd post some pictures that have emerged out of a recent 'Photography as Contemporary Art' six-week course I did at the tail-end of last year. The images reflect two briefs given by the course tutor - 'the every day' (images taken around Manchester city centre) and 'portraiture' (of a friend willing to be my muse-of-sorts... lol). I have titled this project (for an exhibition) 'Talking Walls' - very much with the idea of a poem in pictures (or poetry in imagery) in mind. Very amateurish but it's my offering. Would love to hear your thoughts...