they sent children to wash windows

shadow flight

they sent children to wash windows
with vinegar and Thursday’s war news
small print columned row on row on row
and bunched to grayness in thin smallish hands,
mere time sop meant to numb bomb blasted hours
and fill hungry listlessness with acrid cider smell,
all blent with carbon infused ink and city smolder

inside out and outside in…glass panes they rubbed
to glistening…watched migratory wild geese fly arrows
across smoke smudged sky…watched steam hover
gray stink of cabbage soup boiling on a stove

until one day…glass shattered on the walk
beside the living room…and parents gravely
oh…so gravely, hung gas masks on necks of
their bare kneed innocents and dressed them
as for church…wool hats and coats for the exodus
long hours behind train glass windows and open
sashed trams to a country place

inside one such transport…as if on cue
children reached their arms through apertures
each side in unison waved one two one two
up down up down…as no longer framed
and ledged they future flew


Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by Elle McKay

Bravado Hour

Campfire 02

we four around a desert campfire
with Kayenta Chinle Wingate distant
strata set to black on navy blue
and August brandy in our veins
were quiet…quiet…then William,
our William, offered Coleridge to our
thinking themed as it seemed there
and then to sparks and dark and cold

he voiced from memory an ancient
mariner…he lay before us staging
of a burning copper sky and chill
emerald of ice floating ominous
in far storm distant, lonely seas…
he flew an albatross above us, and
wrapped consequence around
the neck of our…imaginings

he recited to the now as in days
when he and his buddies…Mike and
Tony…sometimes Jeff…on afternoons
on park benches, lawns, basements
a park somewhere in Oklahoma…those
men… almost… brimmed with word lust
and just because they could memorize,
went forth with Whitman from a harbor
somewhere near Brooklyn where the
bard mind fucked them all…all again with
his ingraining…or one of them would
line out Homer…daze their bravado hour
when they escaped Cerberus’ mouths and
dreamed of melody that Sirens sang

Occasionally, memory fading, our William
struggled for a word or with his hand
waved off a sequence…yet…we were
spell-bound in the night around the dying
embers glow of words…imagining

Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by Berto Artego

moaning of the turtle



jarred honey caught her musing
its nectar gold reflecting sun
there on the kitchen table…
routine of the house,
placed for breakfast,
one with bee murmur
somewhere in the walls
somewhere with disconnect
to sting …that sweetness
to flash her thought
to twelve-year girlness
on a pond path to the hives
for honeycomb…

she’d spied turtles mating
bright yellow spotted black
there at the shore edge…so
she watched their coupling
ungainly…female intent
on beaking sedge into her maw
oblivious to male’s mounting
struggle to grasp her for his need
moaning rhythmic breath bleed
air… for the intersect

still…in a morning mood
she fingers honey sweetness
to her tongue…tasting music…
blending turtle moaning memory
with bee hum in the walls

Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by David M. Carroll

dance card

dance card 2

for two hours

neckline wool itch
and rasp of corduroy
turned into cotton lace
and water swish of silk

her white Disney wristwatch
became a white rose bracelet
with blue sheen ribbons…baby’s breath…
her scuffed sandals had turned to satin slippers
and gold heart earrings glittered…pinched

dance partners…familiar playmates
edged a transformed great room
they’d decorated blue winter white
now…candle flicker for the fox trot
lime sherbet punch in cut glass cups

she suppressed laughter
at the dance card etiquette…
first to last dance pairings…
for she craved massed mayhem
of sled races and snow battles

yet she searched for his name
and found it twice…
then he held her in his arms…
and it was not child’s play

Bonnie Marshall
Photo: Betsey Dunn’s dance card from Miss Hall’s School

two muses drinking coffee


silliness strikes me… at the oddest times
like funerals and weddings
really…it’s an affliction…
a social handicap…
I’m in recovery…

except yesterday in a coffee shop
too much caffeine struck…
two muses drinking mocha cappuccino
yes…they were real muses
…one was mine…

sitting on a sofa behind me
wearing street clothes
them…not the sofa
(awful…I know it)
and I was their topic
yes…I knew it…
of course, I listened
I’m not dense…
though I admit to being
perhaps… maybe… paranoid
suspicious…in a trendy way

“She uses ellipsis.”
(like I was taking drugs)
“Well…it’s been there for years…
reappears like locusts.”
“She says it’s where her poems breathe.”
“Then she must be hyperventilating.”
“Does she pass out much?”
“No…just her poetry gets wispy.”
“Lack of inspiration?”
“No…that’s the trouble.”

I sighed…do that a lot.

Bonnie Marshall

Photo Credit: Trent Redmann