Marie Marshall (3 Poems)


The river’s in constant re-set mode,
sighting by its hand against the banks
what’s up and what’s down. It has
the tattoo of the sky in its eye. Two
girls, leaning against the wall, ignore
it, choosing instead to contemplate
hills and the warmth of each other’s
shoulder, but each has plashed puddles
that have (since) closed up, that eye
winking out. The river’s voice is
understated, catch some in a bucket
and it’s abated. Call by to see brother
Perch in his green-and-silver suit, to
maintain a plastic pot for washing
your brushes, to extract and filter.
Renew! The sun turns you to molten
copper. The river’s dare is born of
hills and ephemeral daymare tails.

from Potty Poetry
(a handful of poems printed on cards and left in the toilets at Burning Man 2016)

We met right here,
but this is no sleazy tale –
our loving was done in a wood.
Here we talked philosophy,
made concrete symphonies
of knuckle-blow bone
on the instruments afforded
– tissue dispenser,
   drier, cistern –
or sang madrigals, vocalese,
boom-box, rap, and grime;
and here we actually said
   I love you, lipping it
over the rush of a Niagara.

What touches here is a river
you sit at the bank
expect mourning swans to sail by

The wind shows up
– your peripheral pal,
   the gasp of a caravanserai,
   random words you hear
   as the sand patters the roof,
   reminding you of a thousand-thousand
   roosting sparrows
   or the shuffling of cards.

   Are you in hiding here
(no, that’s not to ask
   are you hiding in here,
   but to divine your incognito)?
Then come out into the wind
and have your shame shorn.


He play rhythm to sum lead:

the young woman harangues,
pouts to a face on a billboard,
and says the crowd, “You’re

all Stockholmed to this poet,
they’re outside alert to sturm
the stockade and you shield

her with your bodies!” and
yes, it’s all moths and rust
and reapinghooks, “or body,”

looking at one of them. Now
they have this prophecy but
wonder at the prophet, how

to fill a gillglass from a
milkbottle, how to share
praise but stint prizes,

how; to begin their own;
lives. “Bukowski scoffed at
the word ‘cicada’ – should

we?” it’s 8:15am on a Tuesday,
poesie, faerie, calumny dog
running to and fro after so

many scents “if ‘cicada’
comes to us,” the Posyman
comes: He’s no Jesus, no

Moses, no one cries hōšī‘ā-nnā
and he does not call back
that yes there is a party!

When the brickdust settle:

There are so many cries, the
weak pull the strong, the can
opens, is opened, the morning

floods and women run to greet
it, the cattle turn their faces
upwards, people say they have

no bread, the system is not
earthed, the bells are ringing,
are being rung, the man hangs,

is hanged, the preacher hammers
his desk reason-reason-reason,
the car starts/won’t start, is started,

the blessing falls the curse lifts,
is lifted, one wheel in a silver
watch turns, is turned, this old,

bellweather morning fades, is
faded, is mourned, is doved, a
manacle loosens, is loosened, is

loosed, the people who had no
bread now feed, are now fed, the
greeting women meet, are met,

the faces of the cattle turn, are
turned, the weak are pulled, the
system earths, the cries are cried,

the desk is hammered and we
are better folk than we were,
a day entire without poison

History ended when the truth
of capitalism are revealed:

A strong woman and a weak
one – neither being a surprise
– walk a road; clash; of; our

cultures, but no despair for all
that, thou witty, pixie dixit, is
a sign of M A T U R I T Y, all

the calumny of the professionals,
their suits, their ties, their white
teeth, their lies, their soundbites,

their command, their access,
their sonority, the way all their
pronouncements are bubbled,

their silver watchbands, their
white shirts, the way their words
are perfumed by Hugo Boss, their

stall of time and tide, their move-on,
their car’s waiting, their meeting,
their secrets, their sharp creases,

their follow-ons and the follow-ons’
wraparound shades, their rap, their
raparound, their tap-tap when things

get impatient on their asses, their
flag, their logo, their mission, their
statement; the International Day

for Women came and went, and
yet still they were, never listening
to the p;rop;hetes;s, d;o;o;m;e;d;

An angel stand in mid air:

Pinned, a butterfly to a board,
glorydamned, beautiful witness
eternal, sundog, chased, silver,

the, air, exulting (they tell us that
in 1879 he wept as the storm swept
it all away, and exactly a century

later was still at his watch; and
thirty-eight years on is no less
weatherbeaten, still breathless

to look at though careworn, the
shining air a robe though if he
could die it would be a shroud),

an angel can’t speak – this one
tried and lost the sanctuary of
vowels, his blessing whirrs and

clicks, semivowels too: M chldrn,
m lv fr y s nndng, s s tht f Gd lmght;
but if he is instructed to speak

clearly and not of his own will
then he shall, a brazen trumpet
with a thousand words terrible to

our ears; pray he mutes forever,
tweet your memoirs of him if
you’re that callow, there’s nothing

like beauty and love for catcalls;
he pedestal midair, not change,
know only happy, damn to he bliss.
A devil stand in mid ground:

S.L.P. Martin said, “Staring at
the fruit one can easily forget
the roots that fed it.” Negrito,

negrillo, cigaro, cigarillo, care,
desperation, joy, the devil is so
beautiful except he carry hell

around with him, stone, crops,
small creatures, all in a farmer’s
field, the fastness of morning

overrun by a noon army singing
as they come on with the devil
standing stiff as a waypost on their

route, caminero, with a little click-
counter he doesn’t credit because
his lips move; this devil has no

confidence, only distrust, this devil
is a liar so he can’t, assume, anyone,
else, tells, the, truth, not even thunder

and lighting are brother and sister;
he’s not coalblack, he wears the
gentilhombre’s raiment and habit,

a silk square in his pocket and a
pigskin wallet inside; the ground
he maintains is hard from drought

and flint, he has planted his shoes
elegantly there, the birds glean, rout
for ticks and shrike their tables.

Fox, blackbird, and tiger:

A Siberian tiger scene, while the
blackbird’s the last to surrender
to evening, calling, lie, lie, you lie,

liar, liar, from somewhere cradled
high, higher; there’s something,
desperate, in, the, fade, to, I N D

I G O, and night becomes a learned
text on marine biology; face me,
I’m in the little surges, so small,

food for the minute, keen, king,
queen, taken, derived, nourishment,
“I’ll damn well tune it while I can!”

A Siberian tiger seen, a blackbirder,
hold singing, lost, calm, die, lie, a
shrike’s larder of offerings, in his

emirate the melody a diamond
makes when struck by, a passing
thought, a passingthought, a

from somewhere in the suburban
branches, lamenting, will I never

see another morning, must I couch
another night, will the stars again be
smothered in lighthaze? thus and thus

the lyric of brother blackbird, some
where a, Siberian, tiger, comebye,
there is absolutely no fox, never was.



marie marshallBio by the editors, from conversations with MM: Marie Marshall was educated in England but later moved to Scotland, where her family came from. Marie was an active teenage Feminist-punk in the 70s, doing her own thing, never bogged down with the status quo. Marie has published a number of books, which you can browse at Marie’s website I am not a fish, a book of poems, was published by Overstep Books in 2013 & nominated for the T.S. Eliot prize.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Tim Miller says:

    Reblogged this on word and silence and commented:

    Marie Marshall’s poems, now up at Underfoot Poetry


  2. Reblogged this on Daniel Paul Marshall and commented:
    Very glad that my 1st act as Underfoot’s new guest editor, is to publish a handful of Marie Marshall’s poems (no relation).
    Put succinctly, Marie Marshall is the bee’s knees, legitimately one of the finest poets i have discovered during my forage of the Internet, finest poet FULL STOP. Never a word wasted nor misused, never a thought wanting, always impossible to anticipate, & at times full of humour; Marie is my kind of poet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kvennarad says:

    Reblogged this on Kvenna ráð and commented:
    Underfoot Poetry – thanks to guest editor Daniel Paul Marshall (no relation!) – has been kind enough to publish three of my poems, or rather one poem and two clusters. None of them match precisely what I’m writing at the moment, but they have never seen the light of day until now – I had been holding them back, for a reason I can’t now remember. ‘104’ and ’45’ belong to the numbered poems I was writing in 2017. The ‘Potty Poetry’ cluster contains some of the pieces I dashed off at the request of an attender at the 2016 ‘Burning Man’ festival – “Write me some poems I can leave in the bathrooms,” she said. So I did. Thank you, Underfoot, Tim, and Daniel, for doing me the honour of allowing me to share my work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kvennarad says:

    Thank you for publishing these. It is gratifying to have my work appreciated. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. robert okaji says:

    Reblogged this on O at the Edges and commented:
    If you aren’t already, you should consider following Underfoot Poetry. Marie Marshall always makes me think. I’m still mulling over these.

    Liked by 2 people

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