to be gently wilded


to be gently wilded…
solitary walk a rooky wood
where sharp beaked crows
black purple blue…caw threats
and imprecations, and swoop
irritated branch to  branch–
stern monarchs of their territory

to be gently wilded…
shed the confining shoeness of
your city soul…tread barefoot-minded
silent on resilient soil where thought
breaks through awareness much as
pine trees lift to air…abandon memory
of rank orange rinds…scorch-ed coffee
paper shifting…plastic foam

to be gently wilded…
browse for mallow…lemoned clover
wade a moss slicked brook where
trout fingerlings dart frantic past
your toes…scrape the bank for silky
clay to smear your sweaty skin to
dry to dustiness…lie belly pressed
upon a granite boulder–solar warmed,
then tongue its mineral to taste
stars coalesced in space

to be gently wilded…
stay through evening…bear the chill
for remembrance of the sonar squeak
of nocturnal bats and the flutter hoots
of swivel headed owls and persistent
rustling in the brush of a restless fox


Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by Alice Marcella


A Science in Her Madding

precious metals

Her madding…is words cratered,
embedded deep in strata of her brain,
tremored there to avalanche the sticks
and stones of the other’s enmity.

Her madding…is cumulus resent circling
counter clockwise…building distaff
preliminary for tornadic downdraft
of erratic striking…devastating path.

Her madding…is continents of drift
on tension plates that tectonic slide
beneath composure rifts…and slip
abrupt to swift accommodate her
emotion’s shift.

Her madding…is kindling set to blaze
on smolder coals of grievance…old fires
banked sequentially on the hearth
of her stricken heart.

Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by Carol Nelson

call to arms

pillow fight

the young expect it…
some slow hunch that
a tension easing break
will come with evening
before their commitment to
the letting go of sleep

then a rooftop trumpeter
plays his call to arms
to fast gather them
intent…with pillows
to join the chaos
now forming in the yards

hilarity grows slowly as
they shuffle restless feet
darting eyes and muscles taut
waiting…waiting for the blast
to charge…charge…charge them
into raucous cushioned battle

to aim high… feint low,
launch the forced blow,
lash grab swing to falling,
let fly epithets and groans
and moans and laughter
and victory shouting as
foam and feathers fill
arenas of their passion

Bonnie Marshall

When Starlings Fall


Fallen Starlings

Belfast, 1920

A sash of winter starlings
rising shoreward
from The Narrows
disintegrates in freeze
of intrusive Arctic air.
Hits zero to their bones.
Their flutter tumbles
jostle willow scrub.
Soft rustlings all around,
and thin twigs snap.

Where low breakers
wash crispy sand flats,
a Portaferry girl and boy
gather rubbery sea wrack,
to pack in wicker baskets
to strengthen soil at home.

The children startle,
logic flown,
to glimpse death
so precipitous
as birds falling from the sky.
They stack dead starlings
black green purple shine
in rows upon the wrack.
Feed for the pigs.
Da might smile.

Boy snaps the necks
of birds that struggle
with some trace of warm.
Thumb and forefinger.
Strong hand, that.
He walks the sand for more.
Girl…she lives the troubles
knows to set the moment
of her brother’s joy in killing.
Tiny sparks to nurture flames.

Bonnie Marshall
August, 2013

Artwork by Walton Ford

come feast

drink cool water seeped
through stone from cliffside springs
onto your tongue…to taste eras there,
sip jeweled country pheasant brothed and
strained to hint of flight within its birding essence …
bite through the flesh of warm-ed figs…to taste the
green…first sprung through earthy loam upon a rocky hill,
gnaw wild deer ribs fire pit turned…spine cracked
to portions of anatomy… hot muscle oiled and
loosed to gamy strands of nourishment…we throw
the bones to darkness in the corners of the room

Bonnie Marshall