Martin Willitts Jr
Table of Contents:
Note: Opus is a classical music term in which the music is thematically connected, but can be played in order, out of order, some of the pieces, or all of the pieces.
Photograph by: Martin Willitts Jr.
In blur-blast-haze of high humidity-heat
are sizzling insect noises,
active in scorch-purge.
The insects' happiness is everyone’s misery —
the heat is searing, visible like blue flame,
Dark unknown paths eat scraps of sunlight —
waiting to die, bidding their time to claim light.
In this startling new, worrisome weather
there is little relief.
Rain shrivels before it arrives —
it is all flash and no substance.
How many of us are prepared for what happens next?
An unhurried stream over a small rush of rocks,
smoothes the stones into eggs.
Listen to trees bud and rasp
in red, torrid breath.
Beware of the inherent danger of hidden things.
Rains scour the plains,
rubs them down
until the bone of earth is exposed.
Lightning splits into flame,
brush becomes inflammatory words,
Birds collapse out of storms,
clasping their wings.
What is going on with this wildness?
Rowers bring their canoes of darkness to shores,
step onto the surface tension of loss,
nod to each other, let us, too, ignite.
Unspeakable actions call for concentrated silence;
blatant disregard is as common
as snapped green branches.
In the green half-shadows
among thick clumps of hawthorn leaves
there is a vapor of people.
I know, soon, I will join them.
I will leave through air
into another place.
When light is pulled away,
promises our ancestors made
will surely have forgotten.
It gets dark early, swallowing the final call of sundown.
When travelers discover they are nowhere,
it is too late. The dark devours them too.
I found their trace, a postcard declaring,
wish you were here.
When I read that, I started packing.
That crazy vanishing road
comes to remind us how truly lost we are.
We always neglect what matters the most.
Blackened corpses of stars are going nova.
All day, it has been crackling with heat insects.
I say, it is God’s voice telling us something important.
The heat grinds us for not listening.
We cannot seem to leave well enough alone.
Our futile attempts to improve or streamline life
only makes it worse.
Sheet music’s passages of wildness — briars
and milkweed sends music into trumpets of wind —
this melody heals stunted saplings, brings Light
to darkened air, finding cures for emptiness —
Light! — come fill us! Heal the forgotten!
All day, a continent of snow fell as apples
from the rim of the whitewash sky
until the ridgeline was erased.
Still, Nuthatches were shaking the wind
with their song.
The violence of snow cannot subdue them.
There is a precise sizzling
scattered in the lavender fields below
the cedar waxwings
suspended in air like butterfly kites.
It grinds like a person making a key.
It is locust in the heat-sweat afternoon.
It is heavy-duty sandpaper
rubbing against high-speed sandpaper.
It is voices shattering against the limits of love.
It is someone consumed with curses.
The heat has a musty smell,
worse than wet fur; like drowned fish
on the sandy edge of a retreating river.
This is when God opened a window in the sky
and the world was illuminated
with the same blue of thermal hot springs
and the odd golden shade of their earthen hole.
If God took a branding iron to the sky,
would you understand the message?
If a warning skimmed across paddling in a canoe,
would you look for exemptions in the margins?
If hurt was a white-crested wave,
what would stir it more, what would split open wounds?
Mistreated people will become Tongrass wildflowers,
their heads still bent to the ground from shame.
Where is the justice in that?
What is this in the unsettling blur descending?
In the thin membrane of a leaf
there is a vein
to the tip of a snag
hundreds of climbing feet above
like a forbidden fruit
on the edge of wind current
like the partial face of God
asking the reason for pollution
one wrong answer
could lead to a rock slide
Copyright 2015, Martin Willitts Jr.
Copyright 2015, Martin Willitts Jr.
About the Author
Martin Willitts Jr is a retired Librarian living in Syracuse, New York. He was nominated for 11 Pushcart and 11 Best of the Net awards. He provided his hands-on workshop “How to Make Origami Haiku Jumping Frogs” at the 2012 Massachusetts Poetry Festival. Winner of the 2012 Big River Poetry Review’s William K. Hathaway Award ; co-winner of the 2013 Bill Holm Witness Poetry Contest; winner of the 2013 “Trees” Poetry Contest; winner of the 2014 Broadsided award; winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Contest.
He has over 20 chapbooks including "Swimming in the Ladle of Stars" (Kattywompus Press,2014),“City Of Tents” (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2014), “The Way Things Used To Be” (Writing Knights Press, 2014), and “Late All Night Sessions with Charlie “the Bird” Parker and the Members of Birdland, in Take-Three” (A Kind Of a Hurricane Press, 2015). He has 8 full length poetry books including ), national ecological award winner for “Searching for What You Cannot See” (Hiraeth Press, 2013), “Before Anything, There Was Mystery” (Flutter Press, 2014), and “Irises, the Lightning Conductor For Van Gogh's Illness” (Aldrich Press, 2014).
His forthcoming books include “Martin Willitts Jr, Greatest Hits” (Kattywompus Press), “How to Be Silent” (FutureCycle Press), “God Is Not Amused With What You Are Doing In Her Name” (Aldrich Press).
These poems are from his collection of other numbered “Opus” poems which have appeared in the following magazines (some under different titles): Big River Poetry Review, Blue Heron Review, Kentucky Review, Literature Today, Love Notes (anthology), Moon Magazine, Page & Spine, Poppy Road Review, and Seven Circles Press.