Thursday, 17 June 2021

Five Sublime Poems by Martin Willitts Jr


From the Beehive Chambers of the Heart


In the flat-line horizon,

a daffodil opens its mouth,

surprised by my presence,


its joy

hearing my feet

before I arrive —


the different emphasis

my shoes make

depending on how I feel.


During early spring,

tatters of snow

in melt cycle scatter


in that boundary between land

and where night is wedged

like an invisible fulcrum.


Hours wander into place.

Light finds the porous leaves.

Birds glide, liquid in air.


This occurs regardless if I watch.

It is all swoop-breath.

I could be nearby,


and eventually, a red-wing blackbird

might alight on a branch like a music note

or like a period ending a sentence.





It is difficult to avoid

or ignore the surprising lack of colour

taking flight. Sadness falls cold,


glazing roads into chalky-white.

Quickly, we burrow like rabbits,

not wanting to emerge until winter ends.


How sad, the catbird’s cry lofting

in the wind with emerging chill

settling in by inches. Geese pulse,


releasing soft disappearances.

Every plant once whole, dwindles.

The last vestiges glance back.


How slow, the arrival of winter.

I head in before porch lights switch off,

and stars demand total silence,


Impending darkness storms in towards me.

I close the door to the hovering stars,

not ready to ascend stairs, not ready


to acknowledge another day

became devoured. Should I go back out

to see the great flourish of snow?


There won’t be a hidden motif

behind the glazed winter noon sun,

no secrets we can’t see with our naked eyes.




I see you in the morning —

my heart is five hundred treefrogs,

each trying to be louder than the others —


it is foolish to question

the rhythms of life — life bursting

everywhere emphatically —


its conduit of love —

its electrical impulse

through my nerve endings, endlessly


chanting — charting love’s course,

like a boat of song,

my life catching a breeze taking me


because love is this unsettling, this

settling — anchored with yearning.

My life is also dew-burn off —


there’s no asking what will happen next —

or after. Only curiosity remains —

if curiosity is the right word —


only evident by intention to witness

and celebrate. Can I surrender any

more to joy, to beauty, to weight of yearning?



Why the Cicadas are Noisy


My sister hears whirring voices

in a claustrophobic room, whispering about her.


Cicadas appear in thirteen-year cycles, loud

rapid buckling and unbuckling noises like tymbals.

Yet, my sister could care less about their music.

The world collapses around her head,

the buzz saw of people yacking and clacking,

rusty and nail-bitingly annoying.


Cicada dwell inside of trees, living off sap,

laying their eggs inside slits between tree bark

with tiny internal messages on when to come alive.

My sister asks what’s the purpose of living?

Hesitation marks on your wrist mark off attempts,

trails no one can follow to rescue her.


Cicadas wait for Emergence.

Her husband has hidden the knives.


Cicadas emerge at different times to fool any predator.

The therapist never sees the times my sister appears distressed,

flung out of control, her only ease whole bottles of pills.

Her husband has hidden them where she can’t find them,

then she discovers another method, more sneaky

than cicada cycles, confusing their predators.


The Greeks and Chinese believed cicadas were immortal.

Although my sister is not immortal,

she can try to live another day.

Just in case, her husband has hidden the knives.





After a short spell of rain,

sparrows fool around,

unabashedly in love,

and the sun exited her house of clouds.


A day like this can hit us

right in the solar plexus —

to make us gasp, heart in hand.


We can heal, exhilarate like sparrows,

create new love-chasing songs.

Let reality sink in some other day.

The sun is in a travois pulled by dogs.


We can shamble throughout this day.

Martin Willitts Jr, edits for the Comstock Review, judges the New York State Fair Poetry Contest. He was nominated for 15 Pushcart and 13 Best of the Net awards. Winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Contest; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2015, Editor’s Choice; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Artist’s Choice, 2016, Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize, 2018; Editor’s Choice, Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, 2020. He has 25 chapbooks including the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, “The Wire Fence Holding Back the World” (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 21 full-length collections including the Blue Light Award 2019, “The Temporary World.”  


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