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Three poems by ​Martin Willitts Jr

When Day Breaks and Recovers


He lip-read each individual snowflake’s message.

He had to trust he was in tune,

his memory-fingers finding the right key.


He knew all music depended upon air

or is snuffed out like candle flame.

The blue winter light chattered like birds,

and banged on the keyboards

with stanzas of harshness.

Sleet tapped like a metronome.

The wind bellowed like exiting geese.


In the Evening


The effervescent sunset breathes into the lull,

changing fire into solace —

a kiss of purpling skies

just before the forecast of night reminds us

of impermanence.


This world is held together by loose threads.

A shake of rain sprinkles like flour.

The sky was once blueberry, now turned plum.


Darkness slurs onto the scene, liquid

and unforgiving. A troche of stars reveals

their ripe syllables of language

with guiding lights for circumnavigation.


Night becomes more certain of its darkness,

a mixture of phlox and foxglove.

The night tells us to quiet our mind,

let peace coast outwards

like water rippling with peepers’ serenades.


A dragonfly crosses the pond like a spirit,

like the breath we make while sleeping.


It is time, it is time, the night reminds us,

and time is relatively short, always

on the tip of our tongue, waiting to be said.


We’re afraid the calm will fade, the plentitude

of quiet, betrayed. We just want that murmur

of settling-in.


The Day Is Shaken From Its Sleep


Bird calls break with furious news,

crackling energy — join us! Then quiet.


I walk into the intense silence of myself,

a song continuously singing,


where the blue ridge of sky waits,

swarming with bursting excitement.


Cool sheets of clouds are hung to dry,

rocked by wind and ecstasy.


I want to remember this intensity

for the days when it storms or I am lonely.


But the immediacy quick-brushes by.

I can’t catch it, or hold it still.


I can’t name that shimmering feeling,

camouflaged inside language.


These longing moments are gazelles

sprinting elsewhere, where I can’t see.


Each day is as flimsy as lace,

as soft as silk when touched.

Martin Willitts Jr, a Comstock Review editor, 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.” His forthcoming books include, “Harvest Time” (Deerbrook Press, 2021).


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