john ian marshall
john ian marshall is a poet, writer, composer, artist and
musician. his work has been published in jmw publishing co.'s
passages in time, by iliad press, the lightning bell poetry journal,
new millennium poets, and also in the international library of
poetry's on the wings of wind, letters from the soul, and the
sound of poetry. he won the national library of poetry's 1998
editors' choice award,' and an honorable mention in the 2001
iliad press summer literary awards. email@example.com
- Car parts and crab traps, old men sitting
On the liar's bench beside any dock.
I apply strong pigments and wipe them off.
- Watching the white undersides of leaves
Exposed by the evening breezes, soft, and
Listening, lulled half-asleep, to the marsh
Water slapping up against the muscle-encrusted
- sides of pilings.
- These white lines of salt which won't wash off.
- The brackish, backwater of the bay,
Where Blue Crabs crawl across
The sandy mud, and seagulls scavenge,
Plummet, and play, frantic to find them.
That stealthy sweep and slash of the lighthouse beam,
Which both beckons and warns, 'the sea stops here.'
Branches of leaves, green and white, white and green,
Waving, beating in an invisible salt-stained wind.
- Single notes, striking out of prearranged time.
- We turn away from the scene like cops, our empty glances
End the argument, echo over the innocent linoleum.
"What's an interior paramour?" Well, it is that
You know (we will not say 'the glimmer in the corners
Of old men's eyes,' Lapis Lazuli ), something else besides
- what tedious critics have already said.
- "Does poetry stop?"
We finish reading at some point;-- Our fingers leave
The blurry page. "As soon as I finish this poem,
I'll read it for you." Our eyes are fuzzy, strained,
- desperate for rest.
- The rest is, "What is the Eros of the poem?"
- the "poet's south?"
- My south is on Chincoteague or Assateague.
- "Please let me know when I have broken the back of Iambic
Pentameter," he wrote, "and leave a slice of
Honeydew melon. I'm going to be very hungry tonight."
The dangerous ones can't do it themselves, can only
Stand around telling you which screw fits into what slot.
"Which day is good," what day is good?
Hard to keep track of them, sometimes. They
Seem less permanent to me now then loose fistfuls of sand,
Yet somehow lasted longer. Is this forgetting bliss, or
Just another selected autobiographical sentence?
- When was it we were on a train in Navarra?
It seemed like Sunday we slept out with Gypsies,
- --afraid they'd steal our stuff.
- Sleeping on the edge of a drunken medieval cliff,
The Policia at midnight who chased us off
But offered up a drink.
Those wild-eyed, dark-haired gypsy girls, in tattered,
Patchwork dresses;-- squatting, hemming them up
To urinate in the bushes.
Yet isn't this the same day still, or now you say it's Monday?
So we write letters, live these whole other lives.
Only, wasn't just yesterday we drank cheap Sangria
From warm wineskins, while Australians bathed
In a copper fountain?
Living in the Concrete Jungle
These days I no longer notice the blurry stream of faces,
Have no more use for, "polite meaningless words."
I hardly see the cigarette buts which line the cracks of
Sidewalk, barely register the debris anymore, but instead
Move steadily through and over, around or past it.
I don't know exactly how or when this deadening process
Took place, but now the seed pod propellers
Which spiral down from heaven take precedence.
The color of a single leaf floating in the oily rainbow
Of a puddle, the moment before it gets crushed.
What tiny gifts the breeze leaves on my deck, and
Each morning how my eyes try to measure out
The progress of the old elm tree across the street.
How was it the birds became such strange, foreign objects?
Since when did two dandelions, fighting in the breeze,
Become a fortune richer then gold? Now, the
Sight of trees which are not planted in careful,
Man-made rows, almost brings tears.
The memory of those flowers, like a liquid brimming over,--
So full not even the wooden slats could hold them back.
* "The Concrete Jungle" Bob Marley, 1973