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Martin Willitts Jr, four poems

Son, My Chronology Ends with You

Believe this island, wide as your arms.

This launching forward, it is yours.

You only need

to dive in, into the magnified sun-fulfilled moment.

Believe. Believe clouds

thrash until you survive; then, you’re gone,

the world erases behind you.

We are allowed eccentricities and tidewater equally.

Believe me, son,

you will come to a house

at a certain age, and you will not own the key.

That is how it goes. Whisk, and you are gone.

Your arms will be testaments to what you do not have,

and your life will become inertia.

I make this origami boat. It can be as big as nothing,

or small as promises never kept.

Now, I set you out on it,

straight into the perpendicular sunset. Feel

the canvas jibsheet trying to catch wind

as if it was a comet tail. Make the turn,

shifting the rudders. Then,

you’re gone

over into the vanishing horizon,

lavender skies ahead,

the sun folding behind the landscape.

Believe me: the air is crazy,

threading through sails,

that last dram of sunlight,

burnt like roses.

The stars begin their handwriting, insisting,

believe me.

Coming in From the Rain

Arctic terns journey thousands of miles

to their ancestral nesting areas;

why can’t my son? Rain knows the imperative

to repair. I keep entering untested destinations,

but I never arrive. Rain glides in, circles;

where is my son? There are conversations

containing what no one can say to the other.

I know houses that are easier to refurbish.

We all make something out of nothing,

until we discover what is really important.

I’ve held blueprints, knew what to do,

the tools I would need, but waiting for my son

to come back— there’s no instruction manual.

I’ve worked in rain to know enough to come in.

In This Dark Violence

I do not feel pain in the sky,

its violent surging of clouds,

magnetically rushing together —

rumbling herds of buffalo. Instead,

I see inexhaustible love

deeply within ourselves,

into a bucket of stillness,

tracing its blue with my fingertips.

Sadness is in the fields,

immense sobs,

rain is filling the trees with depression

disguised as crows.

Clouds are snorting,

pawing at the ground, then


Yet in this dark violence,

buttercups, tiny yellow suns,

white beards of Queen Anne’s Lace,

tracts of miniature blue Johnny-Jump-Ups

leap for attention.

Afternoon Rain

It is so quiet, even the steady,

cool rain

wants to nap.

At moments this still,

the room closes its eyes.

Me, too.

Heartbeats and rain

fall together,

in love. Slow

and gentle, easing in

to the other, and now,

silence joins.

Even the nap goes silent.

Sound drifts off. It is quiet,



Artist Statement:

I have a daily habit of writing at least one poem a day, which sometimes means I am writing more than one poem a day. I do not worry if the poem is good or bad at this point. When it comes time to submitting, I try to be selective about what to send. Since poetry is subjective (and so is music or art tastes), I am surprised sometimes what gets accepted or rejected. Before I send out poems, I try to focus on a revision, and it is usually grammar and punctuation. When I send out a manuscript, I lay out all the poems on the floor that I want to put in a collection. I try to see what goes together in clusters. I am rearranging as I go along. I am trying to teach myself that just because a poem was published does not mean it belongs in a collection. Some collections were easier to assemble, but I have some that I keep tossing onto the floor and looking at them again. When a manuscript is rejected, I try to figure out why it was rejected. But that strategy is risky because selection of a manuscript is just an amplified version of individual acceptances or rejection: it is all subjective.


Martin Willitts Jr has appeared in Broadkill Review many times. He has over 20 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 11 full-length collections including National Ecological Award winner for Searching for What You Cannot See (Hiraeth Press, 2013), and recently How to Be Silent (FutureCycle Press, 2016), Dylan Thomas and the Writing Shed (FutureCycle Press, 2017), Three Ages of Women (Deerbrook Editions, 2017).

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