For Fifteen Abalone


My Pacific litters debris upon a windy beach
where I scry for chance of incidental grace
of a foulish lump of black white ambergris
or a bottle message from some far off place.

I watch children plunder tidal pools,
watch them pocket sandy bi-valves…stones
‘till their pockets sag and mothers warn them
to beware of seal-ed test tubes…stray syringes.

Here, I sense no sermons in a Chambered Nautilus
nor a sea polished globe from a trawler’s float,
nor do I find significance in gray twisted wood.

Though, over years I’ve nailed upon my redwood fence
fifteen barnacled and radiant shells of abalone.
Some are cast off from the divers seeking flesh.
Some are ones to which the otters beat them.

Perhaps I augur with a magic fifteen square
or with aquatic hex signs ward off demons;
I think none of this, for they simply please me.

Now, however, I am angry pensive restless
as my best five have overnight gone missing;
I should check the neighbors’ lawns,
post a notice…inspect the market stalls.

Though, I’ll do none of this.  No.
Yet I wonder why I prize sea dregs
And I wonder why I should wonder why at all.


Bonnie Marshall

Artist: Derek Bond



a fantasy of ancients



three minor keys of dusty bones
appear from gray blue smoke;
they windmill arms akimbo
around a mound of castoff rags;
they growl shriek howl,
sideways sashay with cramp-ed slides

they antic dance and mimic bow;
they sack the piled rejection
of worn sole shoes and mismatched socks,
of grime stained  pants and ragged shirts,
a wooden leg, a glass cracked eye,
red wig…stained bandage stash

into full fathom coats and rubber boots
they stuff their loot as if it were all treasure
to disappear as limitless and formless as its start
as warmth appearance healing comfort; then
they disappear into a wisp-ed trailing fog,
into a fantasy of ancients…into a laughter

Bonnie Marshall

Artist: Joseph Beuys
“Witches Spitting Fire” 1959

planting for the season


is it Winter…still;
wake me when it’s Spring
and I shall plant geranium
indiscriminate in blue white pots
staggered on the Summer porch

though I shall not sweep
ginkgo biloba hearts of Autumn
slightly folded gold dulled cups
that clog gutters…clump corners
and step creases near my deck

until you knock…to bring me violets
in small brick red ceramics…nutrients,
a folded paper for their special care;
I was waiting…I shall toss the note
for I know their complicated keeping

not like geranium… thriving in an outdoor batch;
violets prefer East facing tables or a windowsill
are touchy about watering…droplets left on leaves;
yet most of all…violets must have ample space
around their roots to breathe

Bonnie Marshall

Artist: John Ferren, “Contemplations on Geraniums”

bison rumble

bison fight


oh, their bravado
their purple tongues flick
catching cow must…
the older and younger bull
paw one ton challenges
as their white eye craze
infects the herd
warning distance…
let the play out start

then the muscle set
sharp horns shake
rake air then shoulders
broad heads batter low
hips twist…twist…
hooves stab leverage
to center gravity
gain advantage
on the line

they heave acrid breath
and deep wet rumble growls
strength butted… joined
forehead to forehead
for the final roundings
and earth poundings
and the edge of giving
and more giving
and it is over

one canters to prairie hills
one to waiting cows
it was all in the lasting
death was unnecessary

Bonnie Marshall


Art by Debbie Doble