Martin Willitts, four poems
Light changes slowly with subtle words
such as cautious and determinedly,
marking a demarcation line across the horizon,
delineating between day and night
taking over the sky. The drakes in the wetlands
are excited by the transformation.
Above, in daylight, you can see the moon
like a white wafer. Perception only amazes
the participant who never notices
the daily occurrences with minor variations.
What are different are the blending shades,
the clouds wheeling like hawks, the way light
haunches on the edge while day begins or ends.
There is always this anticipation of the differences,
and the end results are that our expectations are met —
not in color, or uncertain times for the transfers,
but in the way no two days begin or end the same.
Thousands of years, the universe has palpitated,
expanded and contracted like a heart,
with such restlessness, and we barely notice
what is plain to the eye: the universe is constant
and changeable. We barely break the surface
of observation and when we do, we take for granted
the drakes will migrate when marshes are ice tinged,
and the drakes will return when spring returns,
never considering it might be otherwise.
Was it steadfast for the apricot
to remain on a tree
and be covered by early snow?
or, was it pound-foolishness,
unawareness of the ashen skies?
The storm plunged in
with suddenness of a hawk.
We get early warnings
and ignore them.
It is not as though danger lurks
behind a mountain range
or can rise up out of nowhere.
A tidal wave always starts somewhere —
a rift in the ocean floor,
tectonic plates shifting, or moon-pull.
A friend of mine lets anger get to him:
his third stent in one year.
I’ve warned him.
He has fissures, his solid refusal to change.
Someday, without warning,
another attack will swoop in.
The "Lily: The yellow of the Columbia" (Fritillaria pudica)
its root must be "the food of the natives"
the yellow fritillary
was collected near the headwaters
of the Missouri River
it grows throughout the Pacific Northwest
in well-drained, dry, sunny sites, and is today
a valued rock garden species
for its nodding,
golden-yellow flowers and its petite habit
it reminded Jefferson of his wife's hand
and her smell
it defied reason
it swelled with the seasons
it haunted him at candlelight
in the oval cameo, in the oval
of a bed
This Topography Is Unexpected As Bitterroot ((Lewisia rediviva)
(State flower of Montana)
Bitterroot can live for more than a year without water
its pink blossoms conspire close to the ground
so it can hear itself called the "resurrection flower"
they can be dried & pressed
then revived after being soaked
you can eat its roots, but seldom raw,
it tastes bitter taste and it resultant swelling
causes great discomfort like childbirth
Indian women boiled the root
mixing with meat or berries,
pulverizing & seasoning it
with deer fat & moss
molded into patties
and carried on hunting expeditions
or war parties
press this flower between pages
press it between your lips
pretend it was me after the lost time
revive me with your lips
get close to the ground
the roots speak of bitter years
the pink sunrise is pulverized in the raw
buffalo rustle as petticoats
I clamp tight this page, soak it with the missing
the thirst immediate & distant
The Sum of Every Strangeness
We are the sum of every strangeness
we do not understand
we are not what we think we are
we are not perfect
we defoliate and throw trash
or dump factory waste in water
and then a bloated whale beaches itself,
their stomach containing plastic
our cruelty is not camouflaged
we are not as good as we think
we are destructive
then light shows a blue jay
in the maple tree making a nest
Martin Willitts Jr is a retired Librarian living in Syracuse, NY. He has been nominated for 15 Pushcarts and 12 Best of the Net Awards. He is the winner of 2013 Bill Holm Witness Poetry Contest; 2014 Broadsided award; 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award; and, Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2015, Editor’s Choice. He has over 20 chapbooks, plus 11 full-length collections including How to Be Silent (FutureCycle Press, 2016). His poems have appeared in Blue Fifth Review, Kentucky Review, Perfume River Review, Broadkill Review, Bitter Oleander, Nine Mile Magazine, Comstock Review, Centrifugal Eye, Stone Canoe, and others.