Myth Triptych

Bacchus in Vineyard

brix rising

silver sheen grapes burst
on the vintner’s tongue…
sipped with air
open lipped
not this time…
not now…yet soon
the sugar brix will rise

as omens must precede
god Bacchus entrance…
spirit Bacchus, Bacchus blessing,
for potency in old stock

crows caw…restless in poplars…
grape leaves rustle in rows
where there is no wind
against the vintner’s skin

as he waits…
lying beneath a stretch of vines
haunch warmed…stilled
inhaling dense promise of the wine

then intensity of light
a pressing down of heat
a momentary sleepy spell

crows angle from the poplars
into a haze of sun…
a  breeze
a stirring against clusters…
and rising in the brix…
time certain of  blessing
in the grapes

Bonnie Marshall

Art by James Lively




Unintended Consequences

When Prometheus,
that rebellious, wily Titan,
caught sparks of fire
from shining Apollo’s
globe-circling chariot,
and carried them
in a fennel stalk
as gift to shivering mortals…
it was nothing more
than simple giving
born of trickster mischief.

In consequence, when angered Zeus
chained Prometheus to a ledge
where daily on Caucasus wind
an eagle swooped to tear a beak of liver
from mankind’s suffering hero…
it was nothing more
than Zeus’ well-known retribution.

And when fair Pandora,
Zeus’ punishment to mankind
for Prometheus’ sinning,
one day…astonished…
heard muted rustling
inside a sealed wine jar…
it was nothing more
than interest born of a curious mind.

So, when her husband, daft Epimetheus,
set out for days of hunting,
having warned her not to break the wax
that sealed the clay jar’s mouth,
she resented his direction…
and held her breath…and acted.

Ills of the world, like fireflies,
hung glittering in their chaos
then spiraled out the door…
as hope slipped from the vessel’s lip,
following like an afterthought.

Bonnie Marshall

Art by Miriam Schapiro


Graiai Sisters

against Perseus in the night

sleep, blind sister dread
blind sister horror, sleep
and I…alarm sister
shall watch for him
while sea-foam hiss
your senses charm

now, sight be my turning
against his thievery…he
mighty gods empowered…he
who would steal my vision
to catch the flash of moonlight
upon his mirrored shield

and I would not open to him
access to sequestered power
of sister serpent hair
for she will petrify him
to behold the potent
in her beauty…

Art by LMessecar
“The Graeae Sisters”

Bonnie Marshall

Oh, Best Beloved


Oh Best Beloved…so you
will see and understand,
you wear upon me as
soft denim to my hand.

The house of you I know
the blueprint of by heart…
a secret passageway,
and spaciousness of rooms.

Some urgence in your voice
when you call out my name
will rush me from Arcadia
to sate your needfulness.

For you…oh Best Beloved
are source…refreshing springs
to replenish my desire for
ardor brinked with kisses…
as limes…cut…salt edged
intensify sweet savor to my mouth,
and preordain eventual of thirst.


Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by Maria Primachenko




Mere Word Descants




Qu’est-ce que c’est?


What is it that it is…
what is it that it does
to so amuse my mind…

The look of it upon a page
is what the mimic letters do…
apostrophe and hyphenate
to facet play with syllables.

I love the sound of it
when it questions me.
I love to say it for pure joy
of its tantalizing pout
kissing air upon my tongue.

Yet…thinking it…
just thinking it …
opens for me deep wide prairies…
and blue extending sky
with cloud magic images…
frissons of curious.

Bonnie Marshall

Photographer: Aglae Bory
“Geometrie du Caoutchouc”
hot tea



is dance

your mind




Darjeeling tea


in a cup


to leaves…



a smooth stone

into a pool of blue

Esse comes from the Latin word “to be.” It has been in English since 1600.

Bonnie Marshall



salt shaker…saliera
she says it slowly
tasting salt upon her tongue
Italian words…phrases
on adhesive paper
she sticks on concrete nouns
in her silent house
to speak new language to her

an empty copper bowl..
citola di rame
a crystal vase in shadow…
un vaso di cristallo nelle ombre

as air grows stale
she wanders to a garden
snips lavender…lavanda
and lilacs…lilla
to place on a table set for one
tavolo da pranzo per uno

thinks of an abstract noun
tear drops…gocce di lacrima
she says it slowly
tasting salt upon her lips

Bonnie Marshall

Artwork Unknown
echo 1


the word breathes easily
fits in a sigh
three syllables…or two…
spirit us

invisible as silent prayer
or… shout it in a canyon
and listen for the echo

Bonnie Marshall

Art by Karolina Zglobicka

Catching Intimations of the Real

fly fishing river runs

I flycast in my mind
though I don’t know
how to fish that way
for steelhead trout
or salmon… I sense
flicking in my wrist
and forearm…know it like
an amputee feels
phantom memory.

For meaning swims the
currents in my brain,
and there I cast to satisfy
a craving…for authenticity,
much like Diogenes in Athens
lit lanterns in bright daylight
to live a point of searching
for an honest man.

And so I fish experience,
line reel it out…
rod bow it back
to feel a certainty
not to exhaustion,
that I’m casting…and
I’m catching intimations
of the real.


Bonnie Marshall

Photo: A River Runs Through It

The Women Descants

balance Maeve-Harris

After Her Divorce

After her divorce…
she lived with paintings
rented month to month…
much like borrowed books
or casual acquaintance.
She bought flowers freshly cut,
not plants…for she would stay
distant from commitment.

Leased one vaguely abstract
yellow peach green blue
March to June…still with
no long-term contract,
and no binding promise…
she placed it on a bedroom
wall to cover gouges there.

March…day and day after,
all seeming arbitrary,
drew her in the night to
Rorschach introspection
of that painting’s certitude,

until one April morning
when sunshine lit it golden…
she sensed tumblers fall
within assurance locks.

She patched the bedroom wall in May,
moved that painting to her den
to hang it where it would not fade.
In June she bought the thing.

Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by Maeve Harris


banksy cave painting

not graffiti prone

handprints on fresh paint
impetuous gesture
my handprints on fresh paint…
why not use aerosol
to claim that wall…
then I reflect
that women are not
graffiti prone

where is their fire
to cast life drawn large
across imagined space
like Michelangelo’s
naked…sacred homilies
scraped and frescoed
on a Sistine dome

Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by banksy

balthasar denner woman

 A Wilderness in Women

I’m old…
I can tell you this.
Women need wilderness
…especially when they’re young.
For in wilderness they learn
not to trust worn maps;
and to swim cold streams
when bridges are down.

In wilderness…
they hear honest sounds,
know when nestlings cry
for raw, sustaining flesh
they’re healthy calls,
…not the noise of whining.
And on the day they die,
women raised in wilderness
whisper remembered songs
to take them from this world
to the next.

Bonnie Marshall
Revised September, 2013

Artwork by Balthasar Denner

Galatea Childe Hassam

Down from the Pedestal

Grief showers
chilled her
to immobility
there in the middle
of a crowded city sidewalk.
I’m lost without him.
Don’t know where I’m going.

No medical emergency,
it was a sorrow spell
where street sounds
turned to hissing
a static in the senses.
I cannot move…
I’m statue…

Now, for this living Galatea
there was no longer
a Pygmalion
to smooth her into life
with his strong, warm hands.
Is this what dying is?
Am I invisible?


The rough jostle
shook her mind
back to awareness,
and city sounds and colors
merged to coherency.

She resumed walking.
Steps…just steps.
I’m taking steps…
down from the pedestal.

Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by Childe Hassam