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Three poems by Martin Willitts Jr

A Leading, 2

From blinding sunlight, we are rendered with love,

like a sky painted with summoning music,

generations of waves from uncommon places,

brightened by asters.

I share this with all, a promise,

as solid as rain lasting all day —

a perfect storm

for what needs to grow.

~ ~

For what needs to grow?

A rendering song

planting in spring when rain is soft

hammers inside a piano during an adagio.

This is the life we have.

None other — where a tree will grow

and die without us seeing it, a history

beneath us. By the time we meet,

the weight of daylight

will mist and break

in a message.

We might miss it. We might pass by,

rain branching into a sonata.

~ ~

Rain branching into a sonata

singing promises. We are in

a pattern of light finding the unknown,

a river accepting secrets,

a brief arrival, a quick withdrawal,

a shining laughter.

~ ~

A shining laughter

gentles the soil,

ancient beliefs being fulfilled,

a harmony

from across the unknown. It is

what we need.

~ ~

What we need

has come full circle,

a round of music.

There will be more messages —

some other life we never lived

inside music raining.

Night will be strolling

near a river, bringing secret letters,

laughing at its own audacity,

branching out to us,

lights worth finding,

in blue irises, in the remnant of wind.

Early Spring in February

Never trust the earlier than normal spring

arriving in February, one of the dreariest months

of escalating determined snow. Never trust

small poking green edges of spring.

Never trust snowmelt,

puddling oozes of mud and grass

flattened to the ground listening

for the true spring,

knowing it’s too early, too deceiving,

and can go back to winter quickly.

It is one o’clock in the afternoon.

The sky suddenly greys over.

Tree branches fight the wind,

waving it away like hands, Go away.

Earlier, I had walked the steep hill to the park

where the community garden has gone to waste —

the unpicked mush of cabbages; frail tomato stalks;

the Strauss waltz of overgrowth and weeds.

I was slightly out of breath from the incline

and lack of exercise during the winter.

The world cannot make up its mind: grow

or slumber under snow or compost the ruins

of last season or realize spring is too soon.

Now, I am back at the desk, typing, music coming

from my open window, blown in.

Snow lifts its hands off the earth.

I keep expecting rain or snow or sparrows

darting back and forth like typing words.

South Wind, Clear Sky

Katsushika Hokusai, Thirty-Six Views of Fuji, Picture # 2 (shows a “red Fuji”)

Geese unravel white ribbons everywhere, streaking across the sky. Monks try to clear a path of stones, while other monks sweep the stones back. The south wind barks like a dog. Couples throw plates in anger. Birds gush-away for winter. Spiders scatter before a broom catches them. The clouds are gone. My mind was already scattered in that last wind.

All this energy is unsettling the world. It is all useless activity.

Mount Fuji settles into the hot sunset, an afterimage blending into the water, a red glow diminishing like a woman’s nipple.

My wife is waiting for me, calling from distance and separation. When I finally will return, I hope her sadness will part as curtains. Her happiness will be wind chimes, and my hands will paint all over her body. Geese will splash up into the blank sky.

Red Fuji at night —

the eyes of cranes settling,

never see enough.


Martin Willitts Jr has 24 chapbooks including the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, “The Wire Fence Holding Back the World” (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 16 full-length collections including the Blue Light Award 2019, “The Temporary World”. His recent book is "Unfolding Towards Love" (Wipf and Stock). 

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