Really chuffed to have 10 of my poems published in and be interviewed by editor Hezekiah Scretch in Issue 10 of Fleas on the Dog online. Congratulations to all the poets and authors in this brilliant issue and to editors Tom, Charles, Joey, Hezekiah, Janet, Richard and Rob.

https://fleasonthedog.com/

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1opoems = (5) poems + 5 = TEN poems…..
By Strider Marcus Jones


WHY I LIKE IT: Poetry Editor HEZEKIAH writes… Strider Marcus Jones plays on words
like an inveterate, pathological lyre as he bows and strums us, plucking me, at least, from my
melancholy melodies, monotonous monotones and doggerel doldrums with his mellifluous meter
and tone. (I spitefully longed to eliminate at least one of his ten poems, but woe is me.) His
imagery is imaginatively immersing; his phrasing and figures of speech overflowing; and, his
symbolism, story, syntax and sound spill over the page with cascading cadence in a most
spellbinding scintillating style. (Besides, he owes me money and cheats at cards.) Here is a
sampling of the scoundrels verse: “to watch you / swan turned shrew- / hairbrush out all
memory and meaning,” “the heart of truth- / intact in youth,” A “Savage” homage to Gauguin:
“beauty and syphilis happily cohabit,” “inseminating womb / selected by pheromones”
(Presumably referring Paul’s pursuits after he left the banking business.) Lots more gems here,
but don’t underlook ‘IN THE COME AND GO, I MIND YOU’ If I understand anything about inyou-end-oh, the double entendres are delightful… Nice tribute to Tolkien in there somewhere too
for you LOTR devotees. Strider’s light, slight-of-hand writing is as masterful as his pockets are
shallow and his head is swelled…
(Spacing is poet’s own.)HS


SALTED SLUG


your words stung,
and hung
me upside down, inside out,
to watch you
swan turned shrew

hairbrush out all memory and meaning,
from those fresco pictures on the wet plaster ceiling

that my Michelangelo took years to paint,
in glorious colours, now flaked and full of hate.
the lights of our Pleiades went out,
with no new songs to sing and talk about

to hear deaths symphony alone,
split and splattered, opened on the floor,
repenting for nothing, evermore

like a salted slug,
curdled and curled up on the rug

to melt away
while you spoon and my colours fade to grey.
the heart of truth

intact in youth,
fractures into fronds of lies and trust,
destined to become a hollow husk

but i found myself again in hopes congealing pools
and left the field of fools
to someone else

and put her finished book back on its shelf.


CHILDHOOD FIRES


late afternoon
winter fingers
nomads in snow
numb knuckles and nails
on two boys
in scuffed shoes
and ripped coats
carrying four planks of wood
from condemned houses
down dark jitty’s
slipping on dog shit
into back yard
to make warm fires
early evening
dad cooking neck end stew
thick with potato dumplings and herbs
on top of bread soaked in gravy
i saw the hole in the ceiling
holding the foot that jumped off bunk beds
but dad didn’t mind
he had just sawed the knob
off the banister
to get an old wardrobe upstairs
and made us a longbow and cricket bat
it was fun being poor
like other families
after dark
all sat down reading and talking
in candle light
with parents
silent to each other
our sudden laughter like sparks
glowing and fading
dancing in flames and wood smoke
unlike the children who died in a fire next door
then we played cards
and i called my dad a cunt
for trumping my king
but he let me keep the word


LOTHLORIEN


i’m come home again
in your Lothlorien
to marinate my mind
in your words,
and stand behind
good tribes grown blind,
trapped in old absurd
regressive reasons
and selfish treasons.
in this cast of strife
the Tree Of Life
embraces innocent ghosts,
slain by Sauron’s hosts;
and their falling cries
make us wise
enough to rise
up in a fellowship of friends
to oppose Mordor’s ends
and smote this evil stronger
and longer
for each one of us that dies.


i’m come home again
in your Lothlorien,
persuading
yellow snapdragons
to take wing
and un-fang serpent krakens,
while i bring
all the races
to resume
their bloom
as equals in equal spaces
by removing
and muting
the chorus of crickets
who cheat them from chambered thickets,
hiding corruptions older than long grass
that still fag for favours asked.


i’m come home again
in your Lothlorien
where corporate warfare
and workfare
on health
and welfare
infests our tribal bodies
and separate self
in political lobbies
so conscience can’t care
or share
worth and wealth:
to rally drones
of walking bones,
too tired
and uninspired
to think things through
and the powerless who see it true.
red unites, blue divides,
which one are you
and what will you do
when reason decides.


WOODED WINDOWS


as this long life slowly goes
i find myself returning
to look through wooded windows.
forward or back, empires and regimes remain
in pyramids of power
butchering the blameless for glorious gain.
feudal soldiers firing guns
and wingless birds dropping smart bombs
on mothers, fathers, daughters, sons,
follow higher orders
to modernise older civilisations
repeating what history has taught us.
in turn, their towers of class and cash
will crumble and crash
on top of Ozymandias.
hey now, woods of winter leafless grip
and fractures split
drawing us into it.
love slide in days
through summer heat waves
and old woodland ways
with us licking
then dripping
and sticking
chanting wiccan songs
embraced in pagan bonds
living light, loving long,
fingers painting runes on skin
back to the beginning
when freedom wasn’t sin.


OVIRI ( The Savage – Paul Gauguin in Tahiti )


woman,

wearing the conscience of the world

you make me want
less civilisation
and more meaning.
drinking absinthe together,
hand rolling and smoking cigars

being is, what it really is

fucking on palm leaves
under tropical rain.
beauty and syphilis happily cohabit,
painting your colours
on a parallel canvas
to exhibit in Paris
the paradox of you.

somewhere in your arms

i forget my savage self,
inseminating womb
selected by pheromones
at the pace of evolution.
later. I vomited arsenic on the mountain and returned
to sup morphine. spread ointments on the sores, and ask:
where do we come from.
what are we.
where are we going.


IT’S SO QUIET


it’s so quiet
our eloquent words dying on a diet
of midnight toast
with Orwell’s ghost

looking so tubercular in a tweed jacket
pencilling notes on a lung black cigarette packet

our Winston, wronged for a woman and sin
re-wrote history on scrolls thought down tubes
that came to him
in the Ministry Of Truth Of Fools
where conscience learns to lie within.
not like today
the smug-sly haves say and look away
so sure
there’s nothing wrong with wanting more,
or drown their sorrows
downing bootleg gin
knowing tomorrows
truth is paper thin.
.
at home
in sensory
perception
with tapped and tracked phone
the Thought Police arrest me
in the corridors of affection

where dictators wear, red then blue, reversible coats
in collapsing houses, all self-made
and self-paid
smarmy scrotes

now the Round Table
of real red politics
is only fable
on the pyre of ghostly heretics.
they are rubbing out
all the contusions
and solitary doubt,
with confusions
and illusions
through wired media
defined in their secret encyclopedia

where summit and boardroom and conclave
engineer us from birth to grave.


like the birds,
i will have to eat
the firethorn
berries that ripen but sleep
to keep
the words
of revolution
alive and warm
this winter, with resolution
gathering us, to its lantern in the bleak,
to be reborn and speak.


MIRROR, MIRROR


mirror, mirror,
in the hall
age comes to us all,
and looks wither
through the play
of years slipped away,
away
in the lapsed lingo of street
and road,
where tangents meet
and move with innocence
up summits of experience
told,
whose fruits we eat
then weep
when they implode.
these reflections
in this autumn of adventurous directions,
mean more
standing in the door
of ebb and flow
watching people come and go
wearing introspections
of what they know
after listening to a stranger’s small confessions
on midnight radio.


THE COMET OF HER WORDS


he sheds his matelessness
and shapeless
statelessness
undormed
to lie with her undressed
in woods earth warmed.
after drinking
and thinking
in the hollow trunk of an ancient tree
she reads
his tea
leaves

and he hears
her nature in the pattern
of her years,
saying now we happen
and the comet of her words
weaves its sentences
in his,
let’s go of bleakness
walking through wilderness
light footsteps in senses.


IN THE COME AND GO, I MIND YOU


in the middle, where i find you,
i wriggle in behind you
all the way.


in the come and go, i mind you,
what we were is reconciled, you
let it stay.


this template, for being tender,
is our state to remember
into grey;


beyond the time of soil and ember,
into nothingness’s timbre-
be it, play.


LOOKING IN LOVE’S GLASS


looking in love’s glass
at what we have drank
and haven’t drank
to quench our thirst
slow and fast
not the first
not the last-
beauty is flesh
is your womanliness
and i find
your mind
grows branches into mine
we climb

so compatible
and indelible,
to others forgettable
crashed dream
on screen

we know
we go
out of scene.


THE POET SPEAKS:


I like the company of people but prefer solitude. I like to listen to people talk, the way they see it
and say it. For me, poetry spans our past, present and future. These poems, and those in my
books, are about the themes of love, relationships, peace, war, racial, economic and sexual
equality, cultural integration, poverty, mythical romance, the magic of childhood and experience
of growing old as a Bohemian maverick. The strings of chance and consequences meld with
music and art in Spinoza’s orderly chaos of the universe.


Life is hard and uncertain for most of us now, but also rare in our corner of the universe, so I
strive to express my own understanding of it. Thinking time is my creative cove. My English
teacher, Anne Ryan inspired me to write poetry when I was thirteen. The poems have grown with
me and reflect much of who I am now. Some poems sleep for years. Mere jumbles of words,
themes and rhythms in subconscious gaseous clouds. Their form and meaning evolve in
Spinoza’s orderly chaos. Other poems just happen, triggered by a single word or phrase, a
sound, smell, or shape that relates to something from our past, present, or future. Writing a good
poem makes me feel like the artist who can paint, or the musician who can play – joy in creating
something that others enjoy and feel inspired to try doing themselves.


My first poetical influences were the Tin Pan Alley lyricists and composers like Sammy Cahn,
Cole Porter and Rogers and Hart. I love the fun, rhythm and interplay between lyrics and music.
Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen influence my poetry in the same way, allowing me to
experiment with metaphor, form and rhythms.


Relationships and love are one of the main themes in my poetry. Two books which have travelled
with me through life are Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Tess Of The D’urbervilles by
Thomas Hardy. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy is a big influence on some of my work.
My favourite poets who have influenced my work include: Shelley, Keats, Yeats, Auden, Dylan
Thomas, Bishop, Szymborska, Langston Hughes, Plath, Art Crane, Larkin, Forough Farrokhzad,
Neruda, Rumi and Heaney.


What inspires you?


Salford – my home town. My working class Irish and Welsh roots. My Muse and Children. The
natural and industrial landscape. Archaeology. Astronomy. Social history. The struggle to
overcome adversity and oppression. Contemporary poet, musician and artist friends. Trying to
play more than three notes on my saxophone and clarinet. Working on my next poem.


Who are some writers you admire?


Adding to those previously mentioned – e e cummings, Bukowski, Brian Aldiss, Chaucer,
Marlowe.


What is your writing process?


I write most days with pen on A4 paper folded into quarters. Strings of ideas and phrases. Any
time of day, but I prefer the evening and through the night. Some poems survive the first draft.
Others go through minor edits to language, theme and structure. Some get butchered and others
are sent to hibernate until I return to them.


AUTHOR BIO: Strider Marcus Jones – is a poet, law graduate and ex civil servant from
Salford, England with proud Celtic roots in Ireland and Wales. A member of The Poetry
Society, his five published books of poetry https://stridermarcusjonespoetry.wordpress.com/
reveal a maverick, moving between forests, mountains, cities and coasts playing his saxophone
and clarinet in warm solitude.

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INTERVIEW—Issue 10 (Poetry)
Poetry Editor Hezekiah Scretch with Strider
Marcus Jones

Greetings, O Glorious Bard!
Tom and Charles asked (or was it badgered) me to select the poet of my choice for the Poetry
Interview to be published in Issue 10 (November) and you were the one.
If you’d be interested in participating I’ve some questions for you about your poetry and your
writing in general. I am brashly smitten by your work and all I want to do is read more, more and
more.
Answer as you please. There is no word count so your answers can be as long or a short as you
like. I would need them no later than October 31 ( if I’m not to end up in the dog house with its
flea-infested mat). Looking forward to hearing from you.


HS: Can you describe what aspect of your nature draws you to write poetry?


SMJ: I have always been sensitive to people and my surroundings and often sense things before
they happen. My father thought I had inherited this mild psychic reaction to things and situations
around me from my Gypsy grandmother. Perhaps, and with the forward looking Aquarian in me
and my two Piscean fishes – one swimming through radical and unnatural changes into the
future, the other time travelling back into the past, writing poetry has been my natural form of
expression about the interconnectedness of Life, Nature, Science and the Arts.
I believe that most things are sentient – the universe, people, animals, bees, the mountains,
forests, bodies of water, air and land. In the distant past, we understood this and that the
symbiotic relationships once formed co-existed with each other. Through the quest for progress
and profit, humankind has lost its way, thinks it is smart enough to go it alone and rule like
usurping Gods over everything else. Myths and Legends exist as warnings from the past.
Humankind wants the power and discards everything else. I explore these metaphysical
relationships when I write poetry and feel their influence on the world.


HS: The breadth of your writing is replete with classical references and metaphysical
reflections; do you find such profound thoughts intrusive in your day-to-day life and feel obliged
to exercise them on the page…avoiding costly therapy sessions?


SMJ: I am not a classics scholar and knew nothing about my metaphysical reflections until a
novelist friend pointed them out to me. I write what I feel and sense, often in fluid stream of
consciousness. I hate punctuation – it looks like dirty marks in a poem – when you think and the
lines come in your mind, you don’t think capital letter, comma full stop. The run on lines, line
breaks and where the thought ends are the natural punctuation and rhythm in my poems. I like to
leave the reader some freedom to interpret this in their own way. Classical references, I have
absorbed subconsciously on life’s road sometimes pop into my head as I write. I don’t know
how, or why and I am just as likely to reference Monty Python underpants, Thomas O’Malley
the Alley Cat, Tom Waits and whisky, Monk’s jazz or Picasso’s and Hopper’s paintings and
Birlini’s sculptures in a serious or comical way. I don’t find them intrusive in my day-to-day life
– more like old friends meeting up in a café cos it’s been a while. I don’t know any poets who
can afford therapy sessions. A therapist would need a therapist after a consultation with a poet.


HS: Do you set scheduled time aside to write your poetry? Or, like a saxophone, you just pick it
up when the mood striker joneses you?


SMJ: I prefer to be a free spirit, not a robot. I have no set times to write, but am a nighthawk –
love the quiet hours to write or play my sax and clarinet badly.


HS: Can you attribute your muse in part to your legal training, blowing into brass instruments,
civil service or some other tragic event?


SMJ: Like most people, I absorb what life throws at me and try to stay strong. I am not afraid to
change the road I’m on and have done so when the road forks in this lifetime. My muse has a
will of her own and the urge to write just occurs. I don’t know how, or why. It just happens at
any time and place, so I always have a pen and scrap of paper in my pocket with other man-junk
to scrawl down the idea or opening lines. My legal training and civil service work has given me a
forensic way of thinking mellowed by listening to Jazz and tooting my sax.


HS: Who do you like to read or have been influenced by in your writing?


SMJ: From the past – Chaucer, Tennyson, Shelley, Keats, , Blake, W.B. Yeats, Auden, Langston
Hughes, Hart Crane, Sexton, Plath, Kerouac, Heaney, Lorca, Orwell, Dickens, Tolkien,
Steinbeck, Heller, Donaldson, P.D. James, Ian Rankin, Vonnegut, Dostoyevsky, Rilke, Rumi,
e.e.cummings, Neruda..so many.
From now – They know who they are. I have published their work in Lothlorien Poetry Journal.


HS: Do you as often labour over lines or do they more so flow as you go once the spirit moves
you?


SMJ: Most poems start off as a thought or idea coiled tight, like a clock spring or ball of string. I
don’t force the process. The subconscious finds the thread, thinks it through and the poem begins
to unravel on the page. When I was younger, I tended to let it just pour out and the poem was
what it was. I did not have the craft or discipline to edit it. I have lugged around a hold-all full of
journals and notebooks, with over 800 poems I wrote between the age of 13-25. Bad poems with
some half decent ideas that make me cringe and want to burn them. Since then, I have tended to
care about the poems since they care about the world and the people in it. Now, I can labour for
days and in some cases years, over lines and words and structure, crossing out words and whole
lines until they feel right now and after I have popped my clogs. Butchering your own work feels
barbaric in the moment, but enhances your poetic voice and the honest impact of a poem on the
reader.


HS: Last question. How do you feel about growing old?


MSJ:
“yéni ve lintë yuldar avánier”
-“the years have passed like swift draughts”


Peace, Love and Light,
Strider


Lovely work, Thanks for an illuminating interview!
Hezekiah Scretch
Poetry Editor/FOTD

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