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poems beginning with J by Jehanne Markham

Poems are catalogued alphabetically. Please select a specific section by clicking on the the alphabet above.

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I am November:
ghosts at my shoulder
on my bare branches
love falls off
like leaves to make a rich bed
in the quiet of the forest where animals
are listening.
I am November:
The eleventh hour -
still I want the touch of cloth
against my cheek
to tug a fellow’s hair
to cast my spell
to ride with a host of angels
into heaven out of hell.
Let me feel the love I ever had
from all the living and dead
who picked me up
and put me down
and carried me to bed.
I am November:
counting my symptoms
with a restless mind
under my feet the plaited undergrowth
of leaves, roots, fir cones,
ruffs and rings of mushrooms and
fungi kissing tree trunks with pale lips.
Conkers shining like mahogany
in broken casements
green prickles in wet grass.
I am November:
see the groove dug along my forehead
and the puckers above my top lip
whose line he used to love
let me gather my gold
and shine my buttons and buckles;
the desire to hold onto a man
remains a stubborn blind
but blessed be all those who catch me in their eyes
and hold me somewhere in their mind.


I hate the yellow weeds
the colour of rusting metal
its smell
the slimy glitter of sweet
paper on wet leaves
I hate
turning my head inside the car
pretending I am not afraid

from The Captain's Death Soul 1974


The floors are worn
with the tread of tenant farmers long dead,

the kitchen was part dairy, crocks of milk cooled
under arches at one end.

Our study was once a stable
holding a house-cow or some weaner pigs.

Now papers lie on your desk untouched
and cobwebs float in the corner.

Open the door, let the wind sweep up the carpet,
brush the curtains wide.

Love, wherever you are,
come in, you have not died.


If you never grow up, does it matter?
If the years stack up
In a tower of shells
That might fall
Scattering over the sand like lost buttons
Under which you crawl
Revealing how dark you are
How raw inside
Moving with such tiny steps across the moving tide.

If you never grow up, does it matter?
If the years ring out
Like old church bells
That still toll
Clanging across the square in irons hums
To where you stand
Unsure, glove in hand
And you are
Trapped, all your different selves, like minnows in a jar.

If you never grow up, does it matter?
If the years rack up
Like unknown hats
In a tailor shop
Calling out to strangers as they pass
And you look up
With your bedroom eyes
To discover that
You don't have to grow up to have a past.

from Thirty Poems Rough Winds 2004


July 1955, Mummy packs the suitcase,
Daddy does the drive.
Daddy knows the way, so we don't need the maps,
Just my sister and I on the blue leather back seat
With I-Spy books on our laps.

I could sink without a trace

Perhshore-on-Avon, the town where he was born,
The Angel Hotel, with the river and the lawn.
Gladioli in a copper jug like swords crossing,
Our beds have eiderdowns of matching satin,
After lunch, my sister starts bossing.

under the quiet skin of the water

We run down to the river's edge,
There's a boat upon the water,
That flows flat and black below the ledge.
Daddy's hands look happy curled round the oars
As they slip into the river and rise with silver claws.

but keep the fear still in my face

Mummy looks dreamy, her head on one side,
My sister wants to catch eels in an eel-trap.
When Daddy was a boy, he nearly died,
Fishing for pike with his brother,
Drifting too close to the weir.

as I suffocate inside the youngest daughter

He pulls us in under the willows
Longing for bread paste,
So he can bait up a spot.
Water lilies like milk teeth, just appear,
The hotel garden shrinks to a dot

I could sink without a trace

When he turns the boat at last,
He's thinking about tackle, the old shops, his past.
Standing on the lawn again, smiling with relief,
I can feel the love in Daddy's hand
And his grief, which I know but cannot understand.

from Ten Poems Redstone 1993


Gold ornaments of the Late Bronze Age, found at Tumna, Co. Roscommon 1834.

Bigger than puff balls,
Some dented like tin,
Now under glass, on hessian,
Not pearly skin,
Resting in the museum shallows,
Green in their blush.
Nine gold baubles
Once hidden in the peat bogs
By unknown hands,
Without a song, without a sound,
When men came on horseback
And women lost their ground.

From 20 Poems Rough Winds 1999