spoilt bird fruit

pot jamie wyeth

we had chickens
they’d roost in a cedar tree
high in darkness
away from predators,  and
now and then
eggs rolled from branches
to rest in soft pine bed or
to crack…now and then,
to spoilt bird fruit–
is what she called them
bird fruit…
when she cooed and clucked
her Irish stories to me
about geese she fed
long ago on the Belfast lough
of her childhood…
that with her feed sack
empty , they pecked
her legs and bottom
when she’d turn her back
with no more
to feed them…
so she walked backwards
to the barn
to scatter pretend grain…
and they looked for it
until she got away


Bonnie Marshall

Art by Jamie Wyeth, 1969


when I go beyond to blue


branches-with-almond-blossom-1890 vvg

when I go beyond to blue
a necessary place
when passion reds
and crazy yellows
jangle in my mind
all foreground
goes to background
and I am through
to easy lightness
and a cool suspend
where greens and purples
melt in streaks
from my consciousness,
then all I think is breathing
and all I feel is space
and all I hear is silence
and all I sense is…peace

Bonnie Marshall

Artist: Vincent van Gogh

in this migration


not for the herd, I
sit at the back of rooms
gaze through windows
during lecture
in auditoriums
sit near exits
or lean against the wall
knowing center
is for safety…
that on the edge
is vulnerable
for the weaker…older
of the species
who trail the herd
breathing dust
sensing hungry lions
hearing distant thunder
yet, it is enough…
where I have been
in this migration
for one last gathering
to uncertainty

Photographer: Bonnie Cheung

Fine Precious Things

precious things

She distills him from remembrance
as costly feeling shades
from their essential palate,
reduced in the immediate
to fine precious things
refined like lead to gold
in airy dreams of alchemists.

She pinches red strands
of saffron…moist to harvest
from crocus blooming acres
to cram in glass retorts
for a scarlet savor.

From ‘round cacti spines
she plucks enameled insects,
mere parasites sipping dew,
to mix salt crystalline
in a mortar pestle crush
to bright carmine redness.

Then from Tyrian seas
she fishes lucent snails
whose dye bearing veins
she slits…opens intense
concentrate into tin vessels
for a density of purple.

Bonnie Marshall

Art by Carol Nelson



Lincoln Descants

lincoln sign

Smolder in the Marble

his hands
at the memorial
are rumored signing
his initials…how crass
how uncomprehending
is his sculptor to imply
such conceited vanity

so out of touch
with that great man
who smolders in the marble
gaunt framed, grim,
with those famous hands
tense primed to intent,
hard work knuckled…swollen
from a thousand signings
and the wrestling
with a nation
* * * * *


There is a gray quilted lining
for his black wool greatcoat
where an emblematic eagle
spreads defensive wings
as from its beak furl two banners:
“One Country”…”One Destiny.”

Yes…it is that greatcoat
the one he wore that night…
that awful night.

As he occasionally laughed
at the comedy below,
he became distracted
by a sudden chill.

He retrieved that greatcoat
to chase the cold away,
wrapping his tall spare frame
in the eagle and the banners.

Then oblivion of mind
while his strong heart kept beating
beneath the useless warmth
where an eagle spread its wings
above one country…one destiny.

* * * * *

lincoln  5 65

The Gaze

the gaze…
the penetrating awareness
the importance of the moment
for he still held his glasses…a pencil
to stay his body for a camera shot
just as if he knew…he knew
this picture would be the forever
look at us…at us…years to future
as if to say… this… is who I am


Bonnie Marshall

Photo Credits:
The Gaze: Photographer, Alexander Gardner, February 5, 1865
Greatcoat: National Park Services, Ford’s Theater Lincoln Museum
Smolder in the Marble: Sculptor/Designer, Alexander Chester French