[Correction] Virtual Vision by Martin J. Elster

Editor’s Addendum: Please accept my most humble apologies for the incorrect attribution given to the previous post of this poem. I messed up, and I am very sorry.

Virtual Vision

She views the world through touch. Faint throbs of thread
relay what prey is trapped, what class of mate
draws near, what bird has come to satiate
its greedy gut. The ring of string has spread
like ripples on a pond. Inside her head
a tiny brain unravels all the facts.
Her spokes have spoken to her. She reacts
quick as a wingbeat. Will she be well-fed?

One evening, groping through a grove, you mangle
the moonlit sanctuary of some spinner
serenely poised to pounce upon her dinner.
Face full of filaments, you watch her dangle
then disappear. You flee the fangs of night,
not knowing she’s too sensible to bite.

by Martin J. Elster

Editor’s Note: This sonnet begins with a mystery (who is this creature?), but soon enough, we realize that a spider is the central character terrifying the speaker.

Boats Sailing in Uncharted Territory by Martin Willitts Jr.

Boats Sailing in Uncharted Territory

I receive a phone call: your father is dying.
It’s like easing a boat into choppy water.

I’m not going to make it in time
when I’m across the country in Georgia.
If I want to say goodbye or say thanks
for the memories, it’s half too-late.
He arrives at the hospital half-dead,
dies the rest of the way.

They say he saw his death coming for months,
and no one wanted to concern me. Memory thanks
anyone who cares. It’s a nasty hot Georgia
November, and deer move tentative
through heart monitors, halving time.

They just want me to know, I do not have to worry,
he eased into death like they were bed slippers.
The news anchors deep. Memory halves.

In half-light, the phone makes no sense.
I forget to ask why they withheld the news.
I drop whatever I am doing. Too late
is always the worse news for memory to hear.

It’s almost funny the terms we use

to avoid saying directly someone is dead:
he passed away; it was his time; it’s better this way.

They say they will hold up the funeral until I arrive.

I am four hours from the nearest airport. I drive
through the night and Georgia heat
like a directional arrow.
They say I’ll laugh about this someday.
I do not see the humor in any of this day.

Boats going out does not mean boats returning;
some boats vanish
where ocean and horizon blends.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

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Editor’s Note: This poem begins with a simile, and that image is extended throughout, easing the reader into the grief of the speaker, a pain that has no useful explanation, but must simply be endured through all of its messy complexity.

In a Hurry by Martin Willitts Jr.

In a Hurry

The lilies of the valley wanted me to notice them,
but I was in a hurry,
and I cannot recall what was so important
or why I was running frantically so late
my tires felt like grinding in quicksand,
seeing the same landscape for two hours.
But I was in a hurry,

and I did not notice the flowers blessing me,
until I was miles down the road,
hours from nowhere important,
only conscious of time, how it goes
forward like a treadmill. What do I know?
Was I certain the flowers waved?
I was stranded in time. Being in a big hurry
did not make my destination any closer,
and it felt too far to turn around
to see if what I thought I saw was true.

Maybe what I saw was a gathering of egrets,
nodding their heads about the rationale of God
giving them flight, and not to me. But I was late.
I can’t remember what time I needed to arrive,
And I don’t even remember now where I was going,
but I felt I’d never make it in time, my wheels spinning
like a roulette wheel. What were the chances of lilies?
Or egrets? Am I wrong about urgency,
or the time-space continuum, or why God made apples,
or why you can escape quicksand by laying back
but it feels contrary to logic? I forgot why I was rushing.
I have the nagging feeling I missed something.
I think I left whatever it was far behind my dust,
miles ago, eons ago, and there’s no going back.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

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Editor’s Note: Repetition is used to great effect in this poem—heightening the sense of unease and worry felt by the speaker as he rushes past the things he knows he ought not to.