to congregate with maskers

Apache Mountain Spirit Mask John Farnsworth

I shall congregate with maskers
circle dance their holy ground…
lift its soft warm dust to clouding
with my bare…bare tender feet

ki-tana-po, ki-tana-po, ki-tana-po
ai-na, ki-na-wchi, ki-na-weh

take up chants…petition spirit
croon a cadence rise and fall…
imbrue thought…and bear the
weight of a vast imagining

chi-li-li-cha, chi-li-li-cha
don-ka-va-ki, mas-i-ki-va-ki

stretch my arms to the horizon
caress air with open palms…
shoulder weave above the plaining
and think locus to the earth

kive, kive-na-meh, kive-na-meh
kive, kive-na-meh, kive-na-meh

for I’ve access…if I wish it
to a universal voice…I’ll overlay
significance…I’ll imagine wisdom
in its ancient keening howl or…
its whispering syllables

ki-tana-po, ki-tana-po, hopet*


Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by John Farnsworth

“Apache Mountain Spirit Mask

*The ancient Hopi words of this chant have lost their English equivalent.


The Berkeley Descants

60's wave

way out

they were hosed
down marble steps
on their rumps,
clubbed and pulled,
and flushed from City Hall,
that ornate civic womb,
to San Francisco streets
on a thirteenth day in May
in 1960

and they were preppies…
in peter pan round collars,
polo shirts with chinos,
dark suits and narrow ties…
and all a little pregnant
with one idea…political
free speech

and they made local news…
and sixty-four were booked,
important number, sixty-four,
and despite their rude arrival
they lived to shout
and whine and cry,
and sing their way out
to revolution

Bonnie Marshall

Art by xmonau

On May 13, 1960, mostly Berkeley students attempted to find seats at a House Sub-Committee on Un-American Activities Hearing. After being denied access, they created a sit-in at the second floor of San Francisco City Hall.

Huck Stoned at People’s Park

Shit. Park don’t belong to me
no more than any else
‘cept maybe God…
not sure of that,
but Country Joe sings true…
tear gas don’t smell like napalm.

Shit. Stuff don’t belong to me
my blanket…tote for stash
says made in Asia…someplace.
What’s mine is yours…
but Country Joe sings true…
tear gas don’t smell like napalm.

Shit. This don’t belong to me
this state I hitched… to
get free love and drugs
and way… out… music…
Heard…cops comin’ in the vans.
Tonight they’re bringin’ horses
and stuff to dig up sod…
and Country Joe sings true…
gimme tear gas to napalm.

Country Joe refers to “Country Joe and the Fish,” especially their Anti Vietnam War “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” that Joe McDonald sang in 1969 at Woodstock . 

Art by M. Zimmerman

Bonnie Marshall

Maze Design

private exit

he searched for self
with incremental care
through incremental years…

he’d filled in Johari windows
with peer counselors at Big Sur…
drank peyote tea
in a tipi with a shaman…
sought nirvana in a sweat lodge
on a high Montana range…
floated sensory deprived
in a tank in Berkeley’s hills…

entered testing mazes
to find the person
he thought he should be…
Kuder Preference – scientist
Myers-Briggs –  I N T J
Enneagram – Type 5 Wing 4,
prescribed his life precisely
with self-fulfilling prophecy

until he found…self
within a labyrinth
with no private exit
from those incremental walls

Bonnie Marshall

Art by Unknown

unfolding of the towels


he folds towels to horizontal squares
mound stacks them approximate
haphazard…any which…upon a shelf
size irrelevant…except utility
of indoor outdoor…kitchen bath
or car and window

she folds linens supple lengthwise
top to bottom arm stretch long way
spread longitudinal…aligns corners
proportional for use…communion table
priest precise as if their separation mattered

long years they played this game
of stubborn mind and peckish humor
other issues…willful to their natures
they would not bend into each other,
would not apportion different need

they unfolded into a world
alienated… where stranger
boundaries were chaos
his horizontal…her longitudinal
no longer give them certainty


Bonnie Marshall

Artwork: Unknown

against constraint…the descants

courage joan fullerton

prairie fever

windburst currents furrow prairie mounds
sweep Big Bluestem tallgrass into havoc
confuse Brown-eyed Susans into bowing
spell wet sheets on a line to bone dry

storm clouds, bruise gray, cells growing
charge atmosphere with ozone’s bleach aroma,
and lightning tongues…impersonal…predict
likelihood of a tornado’s visit

there…homesteaders fearing madness
from infinity of space and scarcity of talk
cling to one another…whisper prayers
and listen on the porch to cricket tremble
and await the onset of a prairie fever

Bonnie Marshall

Note: Prairie Fever, a mental health condition,  occurred when homesteaders on the Great Plains endured limited contact with others.

if it were to be

if it were to be
it would be now…
surf the deep-sea wave
swelling the horizon…
lock to the moment…
signal for release
into a zone where shouts
and jet ski throttle
disperse to silence

plummet from the brink
as if a cable snapped…
rip the board against
a gathering sea wall
where sound becomes
white noise…then
thrumming of the plane
chih-chih, chih-chi

surf its kinetic change…
slant horizontal left
mere seconds in the barrel…
spit through for chase and beat down
in whitewater crashing far from shore
he now is…
surface spent in foam
awed to awareness core
complete in a being moment
prompt of circumstance

Bonnie Marshall

she dares her world

a red geranium
once on her windowsill
dries to lifeless
in the rain barrel
withers like their chickens
and their cows
and their children…

long Kansas drought
where anything with lungs
breathes dusty air
and infants cough brown spots
and locusts gnaw ax handles
and black-widow spiders
spin erratic webs
beneath dresser drawers

as Oklahoma…Texas
blow from dirt horizons
break to silting layers
sift finely into slits
through doors and roofs and windows
muffle sounds…drift into mounds

when John enters from the barn
she swears he breathes dust smoke
through his pale cracked lips…
he says wind makes her crazy
not crazy…

she slips behind a screen
confirms there is no red
from a monthly flow
dreams of April
and prairie grass
spreading green again
across the gray…
and dares her world to blow away

Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by Joan Fullerton

still being float

dream blake william



if awake is land…and sea is sleep,

and shore is tangle orient,

a borderland…like autumn

where drowsy now seams next


and dream is litter strewn

with shard shell vision pieces,

and sea grass drifting mood,

and torn thought wrack

to wash with consciousness


then…still being floats illusion,

can feel its undertow…and

its surrender riptide of oblivion


Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by William Blake