Martin Willitts Jr – Five Poems

Martin readMartin Willitts Jr is a Librarian. He won the 2013 Bill Holm Witness Poetry Contest; 2014 Broadsided award; 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Contest; and, Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2015, Editor’s Choice. He has 11 full-length collections including “God Is Not Amused with What You Are Doing in Her Name” (Aldrich Press, 2015), “How to Be Silent” (Future Cycle Press, 2016).


The Message

Snow is blank sheets of paper
that birds write their calligraphy on
I have been deciphering ever since.

I know they are telling me something important
but I do not speak sparrow.
I overhear them complaining,
how we are ignoring their simple words.

We are staring blankly at the snow.
_________________________________

Violets Shimmering In the Wind

The small world of the unseen knows no rest.
They know what is substantial for survival.
The deft hand of the wind places grass where it belongs.
We are mere sparks, restless with our own wandering,
never feeling like we belong anywhere.

Aphids, ladybugs, and earthworms were absent here
and it took a long time to notice they were missing
and they were a part of nature. I had to nurture the soil.

Someone else might have surrendered, overwhelmed,
afraid of failure. I saw potential. I worked at the earth
until the ground was healthy and the insects returned.
The briefest moment can have unexpected appearances.
_________________________________

Birdmen and Singing Orchids and Hands like Branches
Villanelle

There was a time when we were connected to this world,
and we were elemental, when we merged with flowers,
birds and trees, went into flights of dreams and words.

We could have spoken and new life planets swirled,
rivers would become horses, dust become rain showers,
there was a time when we were connected to this world.

However, we had to break this sacredness, burrowed
into anger, disrupted the planet, become greed and devoured
birds, and trees went into flights of dreams and words.

Now we are disconnected, broke away, hurled
from the rest by our restlessness, tear down towers.
There was a time when we were connected to this world,

but we left this moment eons ago, aimed towards zero,
the earth gave up hope, and seeing its final hours,
birds and trees went into flights of dreams and words.

You will be left behind, sparrows warned us, and we heard
only our own greed, how we had all the power.
There was a time when we were connected to this world,
birds, and trees, went into flights of dreams and words.
_________________________________

When Love Rains Do Not Use an Umbrella

Rain glances off the roof hard as acorns.
Sometimes our lonely homes
have bright aspects of love.

Sometimes our lives are so normal,
it takes some unsettling moment to remind us
what we have can be taken at any moment.
Sometimes we miss what is around us is love.

Sometimes the chalk outline in the sky
is where love died, and the stars are a crown of thorns.

It is up to us to settle into these moments,
see them for what they are worth, take charge
what we can change. The coming storms
are bringing the dark days.

But, brighten your heart,
seize love in those moments between silences.
Words can never express what immenseness feels like.

Let it rain all it wants; it never lasts. Let snow fill
the driveways ten feet high, it will not deafen light.
In the days and months and years to come,
let what we find amaze us.

Today, I mailed letters
imagining peace doves carrying messages of love.
_________________________________

Rowing

The boat dock settled and tilted into brackens.
Silver fish heads were cut for gull feed.
The dock was rotted, and tossed fish heads glanced
off, glassy-eyed, towards rippling light
on black-ebbing waves.

I rowed towards the epicenter of the lake,
far from the cove or recognizable coastline
until I could not see the sloops and topmasts.

I could take as long as it takes to get there.
There was no rush. I heard the oars rubbing
against oarlocks, prompting forwards
towards that clear place where fish circled.
The pull of lure and bobbins was strong.
I went beyond the dark splashes of pines.

In loneliness, distance pushed the hull
wanting to return before sun-drop
to the cottages with hung fishing nets
before a nor’easter tore at my face.
The water was luminous slivers
like cigarette smoke of cursive writing
insisting I stay.

Somewhere, back in the unknown distance,
stricken houses of palsied framework waited
for any kind of news.

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