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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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Like pearls,
Rubies, tin cans, bones, gold,
You left your words embedded on the page.

I could eat your poems
In a clutch
Like a fox stealing eggs.

I offer you my treasure:
Old roses
Stone hands
Newspaper faces
An urn of tears
My water-colour set.

Seated at the iron table
We might smile, exchange things.
Lift a dark yellow peach
Or almonds from a bowl.

I sing to you
Across the dark waters of the lake
I sing inside your death.
And your tenderness like an echo
Comes singing back to rest.

from Ten Poems Redstone 1993


She hears me/yes she does
Hears the crackle of my blood

The plick of my eyelid
Shutting in the dark

She licks the water from my palms
And bites

Bites with old yellow teeth
Into the plum of my heart.

from The Captain's Death Soul 1974


At my very first moan
her hoof clinks upon the shelf of stone;
unhooding a pearly eye
she plucks me up
like a cat,
neck first and throws me on her back
and I hold,
what else can I do?
I hold the pricking spun glass mane
and press my knees closer, closer,
riding through the water on my nightmare's back.

from The Captain's Death Soul 1974


My mother did not beat me
to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, oh no,
she loved me and my sisters with devoted hands
washed our clothes, made stews, cakes and flans.
Biscuits grew like fungus in the biscuit tin,
kettles bounced and spat upon the stove.
She boiled potatoes peelings for the hens
necks and gizzards for the dogs;
fish heads for the cats in their own crusty pan.
The farm was her protection against chance
and disruption. No more wartime angst.
The trees waved her in.
Sheets were laundered in the copper,
the heavy clay was turned.
They cut down brambles and bracken
and built a bridge across the stream
motoring across it in a blue Austin:
they had their dream.


I imagined a country where the muse would be handing me things on a plate but I didn't go to Georgia.
Waiting behind, so like my mother, waiting at the old front door that opens out onto a bumpy lawn and a pear tree knitted with lumpy buds.
Now that I'm here, safe in the English country side, with windows facing the greens of the bare oak tree not yet in leaf and the stiff stars of daffodils staring out of the grass I am filled with regret.

Why did I not stay in a strange bed and eat salty cheese and drink strong wine with the rest of the gang?
I will not see the streets or the wooden horse hanging above the door.
I will not see the trees bursting through walls, I will not recite my poetry to camera.
I will not.

I am a stay at home
gathering quiet and rain and strings of bird flight mapping the garden all alone.

I open the front door and hear a cow moaning from a neighbour's field.
The tulips are blushing.
You with your elegant body in a linen suit,
the bits and pieces of your life
stuffed into an old rucksack, have gone.

from Ambit 212 2012


Who said autumn is the end of things?
The leaves are on fire
red tingles in scattered red wings.

Red fishes swim from tree to tree
in the wind and rain
the leaves are fireworks inside of me.

In the early hours I dream of sleep
my parents in another room
two ghosts who cannot weep.

Oh November come in if you must
with your wild pheasant feathers
trailing in the dust.

I wont be afraid of the darkening hours
there's beauty in the closing
of the last summer flowers.


Listen to the stringed wind
pushing and pulling on the hapless trees.
Spiders fling out their nets,
snails hotel in flower pots.
Night touches the houses in her long black gloves.
The moon shrinks and grows fat again.
Roman Candles provide the stars
and cascades of silver rain.


Time of spiders
Rose hips
Wet leaves
Red lips.

Woolen jumpers unfolding their sleeves
The comfort of blanket stitch
The heather and sea colours in the weave
I will not die in a ditch.

The woolsack in the House of Lords
The search for the Golden Fleece
Parliament on its bended knees
Praise for the working woman’s elbow grease.


Now in my English garden
buttercups and clover hold up
bees and butterflies
swashbuckling the air currents
with tiny swords.
Scarlet geraniums
flake on the brick path.
Even the roses, gone over,
cracked into brittle rags of brown
tell me everything I know about myself
and my home town.

Unlike the crimson pods of the flame trees
at the silkworm factory in Siem Reap
or the flagrant embroidery of a bougainvillea
falling open like a kimono in the heat.
The brown streets flew up dust
or puddled deep, deep,
holding memories too deep to speak of
without twisting the hot ribs of pain
into a mere morsel of fact.

Then something new entered
into my flat-packed heart
with the sing song voice of a child.

from Thirty Poems Rough Winds 2004