Martin Willitts Jr – Five Poems


Dry Spell

it has been a long dry spell

we need an inundation
large wheelbarrows of drenching rain
rain beating its knuckles on the roofs
like woodpeckers searching diseased trees for insects

drops might sizzle

we need a thrashing rain

rain so fierce
salmon mistake it for upstream
begin spawning
all the way into the sky

it has been so long since it has rained
cattle smash the wire fence
to reach an imaginary river


Winter Stencils Its Name on My Window

The world is glossed over with ice.
Snow’s reflection is blinding.
I hear only the settling of softness.

I want to crawl into our bed,
hibernate, let the world slip and slide,
begin the same withering of trees.

But wait! good news is coming
over the rim of the sky
reaching from far away —

a small tincture of light
drenching the tree branches
uncovering white clumps.

Tomorrow, the light will revive,
penetrating more hidden places.
All we have to do is wait it out.

Look! Here it comes — the sun!
Already, the heart is repaired;
the world is alright.



I knew a composer stuck on a melody.
He knew the beginning and the end;
however, he could not envision the middle.

He wrote notations knowing they were wrong.
He wanted to destroy what he had,
quit struggling. Lost faith will do that.

The sun could not rise or fall in the music stanzas.
He could have put it all aside;
sooner or later, it might come to him.

All he could see was imminent failure.
He acted like it had already happened.
Some say, hurry, hurry; I say, wait, wait.


A Vanishing Horizon

Ice formed on branches and needles,
easing earthward,
making wind chimes in the breeze.

Ice froze
and defrosted in light,
and twisting
small, glinting water.

Cancer cells make this same slow-motion —
two different types of unraveling.


Of Momentary Breathes None of Us Could Ever Recover

when a chilled draft wafts
from the wilderness of ams, let a chilled draftnightmares

we should be hardwired
two heartbeats

not molting
like a mute swan dragging its webbed feet
through the lilies and seaweed
begging for sunlight

our lives are flights of momentary breathes
none of us could ever recover


Author’s Statement on Beauty

I work in an organic garden where I work closely with small beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings, praying mantis, and worms, companion plants such as marigolds, and composting. Since I work with seed and save generations of seeds, I try to work with the balance of nature. When I first moved to my new house, the ground was dead. I had never seen such grey soil. Someone had overplanted the same crop, probably tomatoes, and never rotated the crops. After amending the soil, the crickets and other insects returned, bringing life to the backyard. But along with all of that life, came the unwanted insects, especially the Japanese beetles. Luckily, I know that bronze fennel drives away the Japanese beetles and they do not come back anymore. All of this close detail is what I consider beauty.


Martin Willitts Jr 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), plus 11 full-length collections including “How to Be Silent” (FutureCycle Press, 2016) and “Dylan Thomas and the Writing Shed” (FutureCycle Press, 2017).