The Arsenic Hour


Go draw the window curtains,
for it’s the arsenic hour
when sad memories make visits,
and wait for us to answer
their knocks upon the door.

They mustn’t know we’re home,
so click off all the music…
turn pictures to the wall…
sit motionless with cushions.

For they will test the door locks,
peer through the window shades,
and listen for the sounds
of footsteps on the stairs.

Bonnie Marshall


Artwork by Louis le Brocquy

when life shakes down


when life shakes down
through minutes of my day
to sieve through lattice of my mind
in drifting dust of fool’s gold…ash,
I simply sweep the hours away
under a kitchen rug, behind a bedroom
door…and scatter them with sighs

yet, there are times life lifts me…
shakes me from my ennui with
rhythmed song so fresh and true
that I must catch my breath,
and stretch my legs to walking
in its phrasing and its pulse

and search ’till I find pasture glow
of trumpet daffodils, and fill my arms
with slender stalks… and gather gold
abundance into fine-cut crystal vases
so that yellow fragrance fills my house,
and then I’ll wash the kitchen window just so
sun sweeps rainbow scatter on my wall


Bonnie Marshall

Artwork by Vincent van Gogh
“Forest and Undergrowth”

‘nother beer here


his first reading word
loud, distinct,
learned from seeing
Iron City billboards
everywhere in Pittsburgh…
his proud family
steel mill generations
with beer bellies…
men and women,
hang out on stoops
with Pirates’ baseball
on plugged in radios
and never miss a score
on those hilly streets

until the layoffs
and empty family porches
and women hiding bruises
from sour smelling men
who slept late restless
swearing in their dreams
at hellish glowing rivers
and masters of the universe
who built skyscrapers
poured from pig iron
fed by “coke monkeys”
into fiery crucibles

now he slurs it
beer…’nother beer here
in a slag heap sports bar
strange neighborhood
where Pirates’ hits,
runs and errors…
and men left on base
blur to meaningless

Bonnie Marshall

Artist: Edouard Manet