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

needing not to starve

henri rousseau lion-1910

in Africa…
acacia slake the heat
into shadow pools
across savanna where
night stitches tighten dusk

and lion prides stalk and
dash and thrash blood lust
to feed fight breed their
needing not to starve

no guilt…simple
nothing trinity

imagine now…drone
metallic lions…tigers
from the sky

programmed tightly
with philosophy… and
needing not to feel


Bonnie Marshall

Art by Henri Rousseau


After War at Plain Run Creek

Appamattox War

At Plain Run Creek
mourning doves flutter
through drenched hemlock branches,
disturbing cones that drop to rest
against shrapnel shells,

while armored snapping turtles
yawn red for blue-gray minnows
that writhe through yellow bursts of
river bisterwort and bittercress.

Lizards camouflaged to gray
on split rail fencing
prime for advance…retreat,
as alarmed by owl hoots,
they dart for cover under
abandoned rifles stacked
like cord wood along
Richmond-Lynchburg Road.

So…war settles
to nature’s rhythm
in a red of sunset,
while rain cuts through
banks and hillsides
of the Appomattox River
blue gray roiling.

Bonnie Marshall

Photography by Matthew Brady

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

When Starlings Fall


Fallen Starlings

Belfast, 1920

A sash of winter starlings
rising shoreward
from The Narrows
disintegrates in freeze
of intrusive Arctic air.
Hits zero to their bones.
Their flutter tumbles
jostle willow scrub.
Soft rustlings all around,
and thin twigs snap.

Where low breakers
wash crispy sand flats,
a Portaferry girl and boy
gather rubbery sea wrack,
to pack in wicker baskets
to strengthen soil at home.

The children startle,
logic flown,
to glimpse death
so precipitous
as birds falling from the sky.
They stack dead starlings
black green purple shine
in rows upon the wrack.
Feed for the pigs.
Da might smile.

Boy snaps the necks
of birds that struggle
with some trace of warm.
Thumb and forefinger.
Strong hand, that.
He walks the sand for more.
Girl…she lives the troubles
knows to set the moment
of her brother’s joy in killing.
Tiny sparks to nurture flames.

Bonnie Marshall
August, 2013

Artwork by Walton Ford