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

 

protest song eternal


shane cotton the plant

I would say… oh, my friend
where’s your passion…
I would say… oh, my friend
where’s your risking…of
fortune and muscle and time

for the warnings are there
outside windows… and the
signage is there on your street
at your gate…on your steps;
hear the throwing of dice
at your wall…hear their rattle
of bones at your door

hear…
the cadence of marching
the clanging of symbols
the striking of bells in the air

 

Bonnie Marshall

Art by Shane Cotton

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

small act of mercy

goldfish

what the hell she do that for
her goldfish on the desk
gasped for life…still water glistening
its gill slits opened… closed
to sip burning oxygen

my fish…just felt like doing it
experiment…a testing of their nerve
perhaps they’d let it die this year
not buck authority…and teach is boss
her property…and she’s a crazy woman
to dip her hand into the bowl
to kill in front of them

hey….do something
some dying in its eye
a slowing will to breathe
no thrashing in its tail
no cavalry in sight

oh, Christ…I’ll do it
he splashed it to the bowl
it floated on its side

it’s dead…
then awareness righting
and orienting thrust to
claim its element

it’s yours now…
her implication dawned
some cheered…some jeered
his rash accomplishment…
she left it to them to think
the sense or nonsense of it
and…she never lost a fish

Bonnie Marshall

Note to dear Readers…this is a true story.

 

Artwork by Color Jar

in this migration

Wildebeest-airborne

not for the herd, I
sit at the back of rooms
gaze through windows
during lecture
in auditoriums
sit near exits
or lean against the wall
knowing center
is for safety…
that on the edge
is vulnerable
for the weaker…older
of the species
who trail the herd
breathing dust
sensing hungry lions
hearing distant thunder
yet, it is enough…
where I have been
in this migration
for one last gathering
to uncertainty

Photographer: Bonnie Cheung