All Manner of Things

 

as needful to our being,
we partake of the essential
nourishment of air and water
and swallowing of bread and milk
and savoring of salt

we endure the sufferance
of idle conversation dispersed to nothing
(god, keep me from the spider’s web)
and abide time’s slide to otherness

so that if and when our worlds disperse
in gravity of a quasar blasting passion
and firm new courses in existence
frighten us with strangeness

then we shall hold to knowing
that breath means life
and water is abundant absolution
and bread and milk are nurturing
and salt … is preserving certainty
of  friendship … wisdom … love

Bonnie Marshall

Art by Pieter Claesz, 1644

 

dream docked Portland man

james-mcneill-whistler

I know a Portland man…
his salt pepper beard taps and shakes
upon his breast bone; dun trousers sag
enfold his shanks…are ragged hemmed;
with dimmed eyes he squints to calibrate
chill coastal skies

some time long past he plunder jousted trees
hewed pines and  hemlock  for a living;
on instinct now with street grimed hands
he strokes wood fences benches…searches for
the grain, caresses for the plane, encounters splinters

once virile muscles dwindle atrophy
diminish neck chest arm thigh shoulder;
once limber feet no longer spring his stride
on timber loam sod bedded deep within
a forest edged with sea storm drench
that steamed his manhood

today he vagrants oil tarred wharves
where freighter…ship…and liners rock;
he…soiled…fastened as he is with old
breathes in a rank dank ocean where
he will…dream docked…age locked
intrigue my memory

 

Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by James McNeill Whistler

wilderness in women

balthasar-denner-woman

 

I’m old…
I can tell you this

women need wilderness
…especially when they’re young

for in wilderness they learn
not to trust old maps;
and they swim in icy streams
if bridges are washed down

in wilderness…
they hear honest sounds,
and know when nestlings
rasp for raw sustaining flesh
they hear healthiness…
not the noise of whining

and on the day they die
women raised in wilderness
sing to themselves…remembered
songs to float with them from
this world to the next

 

Bonnie Marshall

Artwork Balthazar Denner

 

against constraint…the descants

courage joan fullerton

prairie fever

windburst currents furrow prairie mounds
sweep Big Bluestem tallgrass into havoc
confuse Brown-eyed Susans into bowing
spell wet sheets on a line to bone dry

storm clouds, bruise gray, cells growing
charge atmosphere with ozone’s bleach aroma,
and lightning tongues…impersonal…predict
likelihood of a tornado’s visit

there…homesteaders fearing madness
from infinity of space and scarcity of talk
cling to one another…whisper prayers
and listen on the porch to cricket tremble
and await the onset of a prairie fever

Bonnie Marshall

Note: Prairie Fever, a mental health condition,  occurred when homesteaders on the Great Plains endured limited contact with others.

if it were to be

if it were to be
it would be now…
surf the deep-sea wave
swelling the horizon…
lock to the moment…
signal for release
into a zone where shouts
and jet ski throttle
disperse to silence

plummet from the brink
down…down…down
as if a cable snapped…
rip the board against
a gathering sea wall
where sound becomes
white noise…then
thrumming of the plane
chih-chih, chih-chi

surf its kinetic change…
slant horizontal left
mere seconds in the barrel…
spit through for chase and beat down
in whitewater crashing far from shore
he now is…
surface spent in foam
awed to awareness core
complete in a being moment
prompt of circumstance

Bonnie Marshall

she dares her world

a red geranium
once on her windowsill
dries to lifeless
in the rain barrel
withers like their chickens
and their cows
and their children…

long Kansas drought
where anything with lungs
breathes dusty air
and infants cough brown spots
and locusts gnaw ax handles
and black-widow spiders
spin erratic webs
beneath dresser drawers

as Oklahoma…Texas
blow from dirt horizons
break to silting layers
sift finely into slits
through doors and roofs and windows
muffle sounds…drift into mounds

when John enters from the barn
she swears he breathes dust smoke
through his pale cracked lips…
he says wind makes her crazy
not crazy…

she slips behind a screen
confirms there is no red
from a monthly flow
dreams of April
and prairie grass
spreading green again
across the gray…
and dares her world to blow away

Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by Joan Fullerton