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Marvin Bell


A Memory

Summer 1970 | Poetry

The first wife floats in memory calmly
who formerly was storm-tossed, who gave
at the edges a whitewash to those rocks

Light Poem

Summer 1970 | Poetry

I’m in a phone booth in Saratoga Springs.
The water tastes awful, but very helpful.
You aren’t answering, whatever I’m asking.

We Have Known

Summer 1970 | Poetry

We have known such joy as a child knows.
My sons, in whom everything rests,
know that there were those who were deeply
in love, 

On Utilitarianism

Summer 1970 | Poetry

Everyone wants to feed everyone else.Piled in back alleys, bread greensantibiotics of its soft centers,money foments yeast reaching the moon,change turns into silverfish kids dropgum for. We cast it on these waters. We turn rubber into trees, flow [...]

Dream Journals

A pen wearing its sock for a cap rested on paper as if it were a bed of memories. There, it said, silently, inside itself, the dream I remember still exists, the one to which I surrendered when I knew I would die, and the songs—scribblings of the h [...]

Just A Moment—I Am Busy Being A Man

Just a moment—I am busy being the brain of a man. Just a moment—no colors, please, no sounds. A little spittle being ground into dust, but no more. Just a moment—I am busy being the heart of a man. Just a moment—no thoughts, no politics [...]

I Will Not Be Claimed

When I am happy, nothing can divide me against myself, and I will not be owned. The carnation in the buttonhole above my head passes me and I do not look up to see who. The armored truck parks by the coffee shop and I do not notice how many the money [...]

Icarus Thought

The nature of a circle prevents it from ever being a human hand. And the essence of a rectangle prevents it from ever being a skull. Yet important people who can see for themselves can't get this straight. So others have to give them a picture of the [...]

Three Letters

Dear_______, I am green, and I may well misunderstand your words, as even now I cannot read the precise condensations of the rain upon the outside of the thick glass of a recessed window on the fourth floor where I write this. Through the gray slats [...]

One of the Animals

Why does a dog get sick? —You tell me. What does he do about it? —You tell me. Does it make a difference? —You tell me. Does he live or die? —You tell me. Does it make a difference? —That one I know. Does it prepare you? —That one I know [...]

Who & Where

1 Where I live, it's a long uphill to the Great Divide where larger men crossed a streak in the land rivers know. Somewhere else there may be gold in trees or dollars in the view. Here, we may be nowhere ourselves but everywhere on the way—so stop [...]

Watching the Bomber Pass Over

How can we speak of eyes and seasons (or a tree-sore in the shape of a horse-collar) when the eyes are yanked upwards and the lightest season made thicker by the indifference of its metal? And that is not everything, for in the time it takes to start [...]

To An Adolescent Weeping Willow

I don't know what you think you're doing, sweeping the ground. You do it so easily, backhanded, forehanded. You hardly bend. Really, you sway. What can it mean when a thing is so easy? I threw dirt on my father's floor. Not dirt, but a chopped green [...]


It would be enough if Marvin, on his first scared journey to Italy, found there in the gassy rainbows in puddles in the gear-stripped, tarred, broken, bled on and often washed streets of Rome a sky to go home in. He must be looking for something— [...]


You have to place a chair in the middle of the room, otherwise empty. White walls, fresh paint. You have to keep your eyes open any time you sit. One lantern on the windowsill at your back, and a conjunction of beads that reduce the wind to soft clic [...]

The Bones Repeat Themselves

FROM THE BOTTOM UPWARD It was not the time to be thinking of spring. The boats were at their moorings, applauding the good wood. The tires were hung from the timbers and did not look fatigued to be stationed for good at the pier. The weekend rowboats [...]