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Call off your dogs. Let's talk.



A word with a clear meaning is a symmetrical face. ©Marie Marshall

We shoal like fry in the warm shore-wash, moved this way and that by what we already know, we’re fry and that’s our métier; but each anxious moment of observation changes the whole world, and the next, and the next. It’s like feeding bread to a dog. An island rises from the greater sea; the fry head for it, but find themselves mature, too big for the next shore-wash, and the next, and the next. Each observation proves the last a lie, and oh what joy that brings! A word is a coin stamped for a king, debased by a forger, clipped by a villain, slapped down on hard wood by a bargainer, worth no more that what it’ll buy; worthy is she who flips it heads or tails, and “You didn’t call ‘edge’!” says she…





She writes one line of love and

spreads thin over the town, the

singer of sixty autumn anthems;


viz. the one about the horse (or

dog) galloping beside the train,

and the traveller too absorbed


to tell which until, too late, it

occurs to her to look, the fleet

beast has been baulked, or the


carriage is in a cutting; we say

she writes, but it’s the exercise

of her thumbs, and the line of


love’s a message to one friend

in a circle of sixty, as many or

as few as the anthems – the line


so short that it has the poignancy

of life about it in a whole span

– and she chops/changes to suit.


jupiter©Marie Marshall


Poetics: difficulty

Today, rather than write poetry (I’ll get back to that in due course) I have written a few words about poetry, and about ‘difficult’ poetry in particular. I have committed it to my main web site, but I decided I would also interrupt my current sequence of poems here, to put it before my readers.

Marie Marshall

But the fact of modern poetry’s being “hard to read” can be extolled as a virtue in and of itself […]. In writing that is propelled by sonic associations, for example, what one might call musicality, the result may, paradoxically, be a form of realism, giving the poem’s language material reality, palpability, presence, and worldliness. Such difficulty, even when it doesn’t produce conventional sense, may be engaging in its own right; or, from another point of view, it may be disengaging. It may be emblematic of resistance, elaborating a rejection and even a defiance of the production of totalizing and normalizing meanings, in resisting dogmatism, it may create spaces for ambiguity, provisionality, and difference. […] it may serve to roughen the surface of the work, so that it catches one’s attention, impedes one’s reading, wakes one up to reality. (Lyn Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry, p330)

I am grateful…

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©Marie Marshall. Like anyone else would own up to it!




©Marie Marshall, not that you’d notice.




Water (so a ragman told us) finds its level,

by cut, channel, dyke, drain, delve, drill,

and drole; the fields bree to the banks, held

by alder and loosestrife; the burgher fixes a

lade by concrete where once the soft ground

fell into billabong. A demon reads this and

fills in every letter O. There’s no reason to

disbelieve the ragman: “Culvert,” he added,

“every schoolgirl knows that one.” From the

top of the bus you can see the sand martins’

restlessness, they skim the wall and leave.

jupiter©Marie Marshall



©Marie Marshall, before breakfast.




Sometimes the whole caboodle’s a trompe l’oreille, as when a single shell or a single shoe drops, a single shot is fired, or a spoon rattles in a teacup having breached the meniscus by stealth. ©Marie Marshall



The sky insists that it will wear a

coat even if you don’t; it’s impossible

to fault a sky for this, and it seems

effrontery to ignore such passive-

aggressiveness; that is to say, if it’s

the sky’s only expression at the time.


A bridge is the pique of folk who

won’t get their feet wet, and the moon

looks down on them, in many senses.

“A constellation set in a quincunx is

only a sleight of perspective after all.”

An old man without a hat is prey to


the sun, but only as the untidy acrobat

crows sidle upon roadkill in a quadrille

that mocks courtship display, that kind

of prey, the kind that upsets a child’s

concentration. Rainbows and dragons

feature in an exact equality of legends.


Background hiss is called sky-noise.

Follow a cartoon series long enough,

turning to that page in your favourite

newspaper, and you will see this: the

protagonist, now a solitude of rage, is

drawn crowned with a thundercloud.


jupiter©Marie Marshall, but only so far as it goes.