Charge of the Hand-Me-Downs


a nation dawned

from deep knowing


a first emblem … documented

 and sewn  hasty … necessary



red flannel petticoats

the white of soldiers’ shirts

blue of a captain’s coat


now there are signs of wear

gaps open between stripes


an infiltrating must

fast threatens warp and woof


watch out

you worn conservators

 you are accountable


though you

were given hand-me-downs

your charge is to preserve


Bonnie Marshall

Artwork: Shane Cotton

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

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


Bonnie Marshall

Art by Shane Cotton

Cold Cereal at Midnight



for Yvonne…

Cold Cereal at Midnight

After the cook left his shift
of grilling on a stove
what used to graze in fields…
and of frying in hot oil
what used to swim in seas…
he walked New Orleans districts
in a steady misty rain
that inked the streets to black.

Sour purchased gaiety
drifted from the bars
in alcoholic muddles
of beer whiskey wine.

Thin women stood in doorways
where neon spilled its smears
red green yellow pink
on the glistening  sidewalk.

At home he sat coatless
eating cold cereal at midnight
by an open window
where he could breathe the solace
of star jasmine  in the garden.

Bonnie Marshall

Art by Pino Dangelico


We Shall Gather at the Seashore

We Shall Gather at the Seashore

At first he seemed a divine
blessing the low tide
back and forth with a metal detector
braced upon his arm.
With beeps and pops and whistles
it guided him to castaways.
Then bending on one knee
he sieved mostly pennies…quarters
some crosses lost from necklaces.
The pouch around his waist
had three pockets
one for trash to be discarded later…
keys, bottle caps, false teeth
one for coins…
sandy and salt eroded
one for rare finds…
such as engagement rings
and a medallion on a thick gold chain.
Solitary upon that shore
he took the collection
of a careless congregation.

Bonnie Marshall