End-Speech

Jack Marshall

 

In a darkness with nothing to see,
in a darkness with little to hear
but the dove softly cooing on the wires above
and running water somewhere near
lapping the soft summer air,
train-whistles trail their signature-sounds
in the distance, diffusing to the timbre of smoke
and the doves’ soft cooing on the wires above…

And I have lately been thinking of the aged
eagle, the darkling thrush, the fire-fangled bird, and hurt hawk, all
grown weary of the trash that passes, the trash
that exasperates and likely provoking the poems they wished
they’d never have to write. How, at the end, stripped
of promise, as the fruit falls asunder,
annihilation becomes plain-
spokenly bare
cadence, canceling all show and ornament, bare-
boned end-speech, devoid of any intentions on us,
only voiced conviction, baring what it knows.
Nothing complicated: just life and death.

 

 

Jack Marshall is one of America’s finest poets; we are honored to have him on our site. He has published 12 books of poetry (the most recent, The Steel Veil, 2008), and a memoir, From Baghdad to Brooklyn 2005; a book-length poem, TRACE (for which he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship), will appear in 2012. 

The New Life

Jack Marshall

 

First thing after I shower,
I brew a fresh pot of coffee, pour a cup
and take it out to the garden to sit
under the yellow-laden lemon tree
where yesterday at twilight I saw a hummingbird,
wings a blur, flit from globe to globe.
Since having moved into this house
far inland from the ocean we lived by
for over a decade, ocean whose smell brought us
home, whose salt smell was home,
I’ve seen bluejays, white doves, and hummers,
warblers and whistlers you won’t hear by the sea
which can be calamitous, as that drowned crew
of young Russian submariners only yesterday doomed
by their leaders callous indifference…
Old men sacrificing other peoples’ sons,
as if the sea didn’t have enough old bones
to gnaw on; it needed new young.
For us, though, lucky enough to be on land,
there’s nothing like a garden in bloom
and the sight of new birds to loosen
the ocean’s hold on us and start the new life.

 

 

Jack Marshall is one of America’s finest poets; we are honored to have him on our site. He has published 12 books of poetry (the most recent, The Steel Veil, 2008), and a memoir, From Baghdad to Brooklyn 2005; a book-length poem, TRACE (for which he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship), will appear in 2012. 

Afterward what Remains

Marge Piercy

 

What marks does a marriage leave
when one of them has gone
into another entanglement?
 
A bottle of wine chosen, forgotten.
A old cat dying slowly of kidney
failure.  Some books no longer
 
valued, music of another decade
they used to dance to, back
when dancing was together.
 
A green wool sweater abandoned
in the corner of a closet.  Railroad
tie steps they buried in the hillside.
 
Trees they planted now taller
than the house. A mask, a wooden
necklace from foreign travels. 
 
Pain eroding like a dying pond
from the edges but still deep
enough in the center to drown.

  

  

  

 

 

MARGE PIERCY

Marge Piercy has published 18 poetry collections including Colors Passing Through Us, What Are Big Girls Made Of?, The Art of Blessing the Day, and most recently The Crooked Inheritance, all from Knopf.  She has written seventeen novels, most recently Sex Wars from Morrow/Harper Collins, who published her memoir, Sleeping with Cats.  Two of her earlier novels, Vida and Dance the Eagle to Sleep are being reprinted by PM Press in 2011. In March, Knopf published a second volume of Marge’s selected poems, The Hunger Moon.