Lessons by Martin Willitts Jr.


The sky sighs one snowflake,
and it floats like a manta ray.
It is outlined in the dark, falling
awkward, only to be called back.

There are areas where silence
is traced like a river of air,
a voice calling us,
telling us it is getting late.

I keep reminding myself,
Spring is closer and further away
than I think. When I look,
nothing is there.


A work crew takes chainsaws to the mulberry.
But its roots are deep, entangled,
and it will not go easily. Saws lose their edge,
going dull as a conversation.

The mulberry had been here since Victorian times,
scolding newness like a grouchy grandparent
set in their ways. God wrote into Creation,
we would have to tolerate whatever stands in our way.


A skunk was scrubbed against the road, odor stumbling,
half-blind. Boys lifted their wrinkled noses,
souring their faces. Girls danced perfume into the air,
hoping for the best, but disappointed, like with a kiss.

A child listening to a bedtime story asks, what’s that?
Answers open other questions a crew must clean up.
A skunk only has one way to get its point across.
Once it teaches its lesson, we learn never to forget it.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

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Editor’s Note: This poem’s three parts showcase the title’s definition. The last part’s repetition of previous imagery ties everything together with an difficult lesson.


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