after initial shock



you…still mother warm,
a first gasp for breath,
as her heartbeat whoosh
dims to faintness
in cacophony of sound

you… a first bee sting
pain startle indignation
at size disproportionate,
at liable and consequence
in a nasty world

you…first watch father cry,
though his grief enables
your doubting confidence
to bloom to empathy

you…first knowing glance,
as implication shocks to life
a quickening awareness
of tantalizing power

Bonnie Marshall

Art by Sebastian Lucius, 1893


edge line crack


he’d known edges

since infancy…

around his crib

hand over hand

wood bars…all sides…

grade school,

he stood in halls

outside class

back against the wall

by a fire alarm…

high school,

graffiti marking


under an overpass…

he stepped crack

broke his mother’s heart


Bonnie Marshall

Art by Modest Cumart


When She Began to Mourn

woman waiting

for tom

He left her by the women’s room
down at the Southland Mall.
When she came out he wasn’t there.
She waited by an elevator to the second floor
away from lavatory smells
of paper…disinfectant…soap.
He wouldn’t stand there either.
He’d stray for new tobacco.

So she bought coffee black
to sip hot bitterness,
found a vacant bench,
waited on her island
with shoppers washing by
to a KISS current
surface just below…
a peak of shout…a screech of child;
and then her panic struck.
She treaded tears…
imagined quick alone
without him.

Sorry hon… saw this for you.
Hope you like the color.

She held his hand
and would not let it go.

Bonnie Marshall

Art by Richard Diebenkorn


joyful presence in that place

cows girl

her skinny legs
tight straddled
the cow’s belly
filled with calf…
her nubbin breasts
tight pressed
against its neck
as cow grazed
stoic… to her length
and lightness on its back,
to her flicking of its ears,
her mimic grinding of
grass between her teeth
and hocking spit
that arched green froth
to dust before its hooves–
ignored her noisy sniff
of its sweaty hide…stoic
‘till girl pressed…barefoot
hard against a nine month’s
bulging in its side

girl tumbled laughing
spinning against
turning of the earth,
at ease and joyful
with her presence
in that place

Bonnie Marshall

Art by Robert Duncan

Obsessive Case

st jerome in his study

counts eighteen window panes
left to right…top to bottom
bottom top…again…again;
to chart his number thought;
sums four knives
three spoons, one fork
to individual drawers;
calculates the ceiling
of twelve-inch tiles
in multiples of ten
times twenty-two;
thinks a twelve-twelve mantra
to purge his tally spell
definitive…to plant
his sense of self to there.
foretells sine, cosine for
sweep of ocean waves that
tangent to a beach;
orients his charting for
a rising…waning…setting
yin moon…yang sun phasing;
twists cords to Celtic knots;
sculpts wood…all Mobius
to ground his intimation
of truth and beauty’s source
of balance in proportion
of exquisite simplicity
of eloquent equation
of profound implication
that one plus one is


Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by H. Steenwick
“St Jerome in His Study”