J. W. Marshall

from Taken With


I’d wheeled Mother where
Faith Hour was slated to begin
after the chaplain got there

wiping first her chin
because a spoon in her hand
was an inexact tool.

I was set to leave.
Where are you going Mother asked.
I’m going home.

Take me with you she said
and laughed a kind of wreck.
The woman to her left

said take me with you too
then the six or seven of them all
took the sentence on

like hail taking on a garbage can.
Take me with you haw haw haw.
Take me with you laugh laugh laugh.

Like a headache made of starlings.
I can’t I said I have a wife and dog.
A dog haw haw haw haw.

A wife laugh laugh laugh.
Take me with you take me with you.
Haw haw laugh laugh laugh.

I zippered my coat closed
with a ferocity that shut them up.
Unbalanced silence in the room. Mom

knocked it over saying
you should go.
Saying I’ve been where you’re going.

Anyway go walk your dog.


Reprinted from the book-length poem, Taken With (Wood Works Press, 2005) and also the full-length collection, Meaning A Cloud (Oberlin College Press, 2008).


J. W. Marshall co-owns and operates Open Books, a poetry-only bookstore in Seattle, with his wife, Christine Deavel.  His first full-length book of poetry, Meaning a Cloud, won the 2007 Field Poetry Prize and was published by Oberline College Press in 2008.  Prior to that two chapbooks of his poetry were published by Wood Works Press, Blue Mouth in 2001 and Taken With in 2005.  Most recently his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Hubbub, Poetry Northwest, Raven Chronicles, and Seattle Review.


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