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Call off your dogs. Let's talk.

d.

“You call me steadfast and yet have no
idea of the movie playing now across
my inner sight, how it changes from

minute to minute, never replays, is the
moving river reflecting a bloody dawn
and a bloodier sunset every day, each

snowflake-sure, cocksure, peopled with
bandoleros, cataphracts, mahouts, fey
girls, beyond my placard’s great telling.”

:

Call and come. The patient reader sits,
frowns a little, feels the page’s edge and
flicks it like a doll’s fan; the book’s got
knocked edges, cover gone somewhere,
an alien inscription on the flyleaf. Day,
a quiet insinuation to the room, calls and
comes, dials its progress on the wall. Go,
day, and see if the reader cares; or will
she bless the night and put the book by?

:

The wolves of the fair hunt the lambs of
the town, divide mothers from the bairns,
blood the unwary but never meet their eye;

the birds above scream the news; there’s
a ghost that weaves a signature path with
needle-precision, stories in a vague pouch

that’s never opened; the wolves bristle as
he passes, and when one howls all howl,
one passes a lamb all pass; all lambs pray.

__________

jupiter©Mairie Marshall

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Someone answering my description

A new short story over on my main web site.

Marie Marshall

1

Just after the junction where the side-road curves away to the prison car-park, the main road begins to slope gently upwards. If you didn’t know this was because the railway ran underneath you wouldn’t realise it was a bridge. I know, I realise. To me it’s a zone of demarcation – that’s precisely the term I use, along with the fancy word liminal – because it marks a transition between town and suburb, amongst other things. As I climb up onto the stone wall and test the slightly rounded capstones with the soles of my shoes, I take in the other demarcation. To my right is the pavement, three flagstones wide, and the busy road with its double yellow lines worn by constant traffic; to my left, between the bridge and the side-road and the railway line is a piece of scrubby ground where the grass is grey from the…

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c.

“The other lovenik told me
it’s a black hole that sucks
you in, brains, bones, soul,

and all, once you cross the
loss horizon. That gels with
me, my last lovenik and I

became slaves, each crying
that the other wasn’t master,
both rain-in-the-face sure.”

:

Another red morning, blood
and bells, sheepback clouds
bleeding, river bleeding, the
windows over every scheme
bleeding, this dark sheet of
hills impervious; light from
the east and dull drifting sky-
water from the west, old and
distant landscapes faded out
.

:

A bewildered couple took a
jazz-cure, lying back on the
bed of vibes, brushes, snares.

It had little effect beyond a
severe silence, where there
was once domestic carnage.

Outside, it all passes: cars of
the neighbourhood, daybirds,
feral dogs, new-driven leaves.

__________

jupiter©Marie Marshall

b.

“I’ll not look at you, because a gaze
changes the thing it falls on; I’ll not
touch you with my palm, because that

involves the crooking of my arm, a
gesture of acquisition, colonisation,
ownership; instead I’ll run the back of

my hand over you, the way I would
feel my way from a darkened room or
a burning building; I’ll never use the

word ‘love’ because it’s selfish; I’ll do
you so much honour, but not gild your
statue, because you’re nature, not art.”

:

A clerical grey waistcoat; a funereal
necktie knotted badly and showing its
workings; a white shirt bunched and
gathered at the shoulders; a watch-
chain hung with widows’ mites; cold
silver in hidden pockets against the
possibility of tipping Charon; trousers
notched at the back of the waistband
and tensed by a single gallas, the other
having snapped; a hat doggedly level;
shoes bright from much care; rings, an
identity bracelet mimicking a torque
.

:

If there are rules, then play by them.
If not, then time yourself by the sun.
It’s winter, and as a consequence the

days are short and cold, but in a nook
that catches light there’s a little empire
of Welsh poppies, stubborn, sere and

Cymric, yellow as blackbird-beaks,
paying hat-honour now and then to the
breeze’s blandishments. We witness a

million million images every day and
break them down into meaning, set
that on a frame, and wonder, wonder!

__________

jupiter©Marie Marshall

a.

To title a poem is to exclude.
Explain please. Well, if this
poem were called ‘cat’ you’d
know that it was not about an
elephant, even if some spark
wheeled an elephant into the

room to stand up patient and
barely breathing, swaying a
little in embarrassment while
we pointedly stared at the flat-
screen and fiddled with the
remote; his presence and his

zoo-smell would be latent, or
potential, and not kinetic, not
dynamic there’s be no hint of
grey, no waft from his ears, no
thought of ivory, no mahout,
no ankus or howdah or India.

:

To stand above, to stand alone,
to consider what’s right, or to
subject ideas to trade and one’s
concerns to a patent, to weep,
to hold hands with your next-
door neighbour, to break bread
with the hungry, to go hungry
yourself, plays on our minds.

:

The cat of course left the room
as soon as the elephant entered,
because it was an affront; but
then all things are an affront to
a cat; it moved to another room
and thought “This is a place of

blood, and therefore it will suit
me,” but then every room in the
house is a place of blood to a cat
and every nook a place of sleep
or slaughter to the embodiment
of solipsism, a Cartesian ghost.

__________

jupiter©Marie Marshall

H is for Hungry Ghost

I am still deciding what I might do next with my poetry. Probably I’ll stick to a familiar format, so as not to unsettle you too much; but the thrust of the poetry might be a little different. But as ever, I expect you not to marvel at my genius – rather you should feel free to pick the poetry-ball up and run with it. Meanwhile, here’s a poem I wrote in 2009. It’s from my 2010 collection Naked in the Sea.

H is for Hungry Ghost

H is for Hungry Ghost

for seven years now (or is it seventy-seven
it is so easy so ironic to lose track)
I have been a gaki

you may have seen me after dark in the Shinkasen
between Utsunomiya and Oyama never beyond Omiya
as lights dance insanely in the window
there is your reflection in the corner of your eye
for a moment it has horns and a gaping mouth
and those insane lights are now dancing
where your eyes were dark a moment ago
that’s me condemned to lick the carriage window
and repeat the station-names
Niigata, Tsubame-sanjo, Urasa, Echigo-yuwaza,
Jomo-kogen, Takasaki, Honjo-waseda, Kumagaya
to the rhythms of the train

I live with a jikininki who does nothing
but steal rings from corpses
and moan about her lot in after-life
I hate her
I have exchanged love for hate and hunger
paid for love with loss
and I am a hungry ghost

__________

jupiter©Marie Marshall

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©Marie Marshall

jupiter

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O settlement! What do we mean when

we say ‘love’? The least kills the greatest

with ease, one stone does it. What do we

:

mean when we talk about distance? The

flames kindled, the figures leap and dance,

but only in the corner of your eye when

:

your gaze isn’t towards that stone wall.

What do we mean by self? Shift, and shift

again. What air comes between ‘me’ and

:

‘you’, and how is it charged? There is an

urgency in morning runners, but if they’re

not running to or from they might as well

:

mark time. Why is there more conversation

between late-autumn trees and those of full

summer? “Last night I saw a street full of

:

people, faces down but illuminated.” Why

do you push? O vitality! Why make such

an apostrophe, when there are children

:

dying? A career, even that of the Jagannath

cart, has an inevitable end. Why go to the

ends of the earth seeking a whole number?

__________

jupiterThere are still some copies left of my T.S. Eliot Prize-nominated poetry collection I am not a fish, direct from the publisher, though I suspect that they might not keep it in stock for much longer. So now would be a good time to buy a copy. How I hate running a commercial here!

Please visit and read Daniel Paul Marshall’s response to my short article on difficult poetry.

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©Marie Marshall

jupiter