Jack Marshall

Bird, are you still

As living tends to be more alive

on the wing, or else quicker

speared than allows a sigh

for news of distant deaths and near

capital, collateral, and close-

up damage, may I inquire,

Bird, are you still

on the wing, and your song,

wish's wormhole

to warmer portals, so keen

a sound, makes a mood almost

making up what can't be seen

or felt yet? Somewhere

is summer,

and you there,

are you still foraging

for us, you promissory, necessary,

startling thing?

The Curve

The cats are in: out of seven,

four are left; when I count,

there seems even less of them

this winter that has come near

to throwing overboard many hearts as it heaves

and hungers on like the hunger

that feeds the heaven of virgins

available, unveiled, eager to love to pieces

their promised, piece-meal lovers; or as when

in an animal's eyes we're seen,

held in a grip tighter than a gaze,

guarded, still, growing curious, then

assured, easing, until unthreatened,

losing interest in our presence,

we've been released, just when it seemed

fixed on us before turning aside,

like the barely remembered summer gone by,

drawn back to the bottomless well running dry.

As one gets older and slips into seeing less

in the human world of the best

of what there is to express,


cuts eloquence


So, bless the voices stressed

leaving cell-phone messages, one hand on wheel

in freeway traffic, wishing Merry Christmas,

who, if distracted, will, statistically, die

in holiday traffic which, honest, is more a mob

on wheels, for we're not going to be

able to tell what's real when we come to the hedge

we peel off and go floating

over, feeling a dreamy uncertainty on the edge

of which world we're in, like a story which leaves

out a too-real page

unturned in our lives

we look forward to and find later

not treasure in the flowering

but the remembering after, and once more

I know I'll be slow behind the curve

when absolute zero unpacks its bags and installs April's

sunny tunes and smiles on the walls we fasten to live on earth.

Jack Marshall was born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents who emigrated from Iraq and Syria, and now lives in California. He is the author of the memoir From Baghdad to Brooklyn and poetry collections that have received the PEN Center USA Award, two Northern California Book Awards, and a nomination from the National Book Critics Circle, including Sesame, Gorgeous Chaos, Millennium Fever, and his newest, Spiral Trace, to be released in June 2013.


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