Tobin Marsh


 The Mouth


Not some forgotten part

of the body — the spleen 

or hair on the rim of an ear.


The mouth is wide, like a city.

Like horns in traffic, most words 

are useless and annoying. 


They make a mess of family, 

friends and work. Lying 

between head and heart, 


it takes all our lives to tune 

the tongue true. Even then, 

there’s plenty that flits in 


from who-knows-where. 

A bit of it, thank God, 

is halting and beautiful.


Stones In Their Ordinary Time

 Stones, in their ordinary time,

suffer no great want,

no necessary sorrow. 

They lie where they belong, 

beneath cities and fields. 


No fleeting passions, 

no flimsy good-luck blessings. 

Just rain and root in a slender crevice 

and the surprising delight

of footsteps on the surface. 


Exposed rock faces spread proudly 

across the wooded hills. 

They mean what they say 

and, in evening light, they get 

what they need: a view


of falling leaves sacrificed to soil 

and the long hardening that follows. 

Layer upon layer,

autumn upon autumn,

the flat broad hand presses firm. 


A million years pass quickly. 

Rains trickle down. 

A mountain. 

A cliff. 

A perfectly smooth pebble.


It’s not hard to trust the odd, 

random shape of your life, 

when you dare to believe 

the world is already offering 

everything you need.