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