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
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

quilting stitches

log cabin life

she quilts marriage on her lap
each rocking stitch
a mantra repetition
stitched in cotton…
of salvaged patterns
from his work shirts
from her dresses,
from linen on their bed
for a softer backing

she quilts time upon her lap
log cabin squares in layers
like decades ’round a hearth
or geologic strata
surround of molten core
to accumulate…adjust
she sews whole hours
from her memory

she quilts endurance on her lap
to needle pierces…notice
through cloth to skin
that once sensed tender
tiny bleed on fingertips
now lightly callused to the touch

Art by Sandy Meyer

A Quality of Flash

A Quality of Flash

There is a quality of flash about some people
distinctive as sunlight shimmer glinting on a lake.
A certain penetrating gaze reveals engagement of the mind
of someone facing life with comprehension of its weight.
Their diamond clear self-knowledge,
disillusionment faceted, pain pressured,
reflects inner steadfastness and endurance.
Conflicts and obsessions resonate with purpose
in the passions of their lives.
We know their names and think of them with awe,
aware of what they tell us of ourselves.

Bonnie Marshall