From the archives – Bone-Chilled by Martin Willitts Jr.


These mountains were not high enough to have snowcaps
but a toddler tugged on his mother’s sleeve
as a silent plea for safety. The pond was frozen over,
although spring was coming out of its cabin,
carrying a berry-picking tin pail. The boy shivered
in his parka, back-glancing at the junipers
where the all-day bird was singing, knowing weather
was purposely fickle. His mother had pushed off
the latest attempt by another no-account guy
who had stared once too intently at his eight
year old sister. Bone-chills emanated from that man,
like a kind of mean wind blasting them in the face.
He went with his mother, searching with a group
for his sister who had run off into this direction,
into the folds of the mountains. The boy called out
in his small voice, loudly for the lost,
already dreading what he knew must be true and too late.
His mother, biting at her cold sore, seemed serene
at this same awful conclusion, holding one boot
belonging to his sister, strangely smaller,
like hope, like one blue flower in the snow-melt.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, April 27, 2017 — by Martin Willitts Jr.

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Heading Towards Home by Martin Willitts Jr.

Heading Towards Home

The distance heads towards a small village
of post card, white clapboard houses,
where pale-green pastures level off
before another hill begins. The sky is waiting
for the rain to arrive, and dampness enters
the bones. A bird is nowhere, wherever wind is.

Heading this way is a van, pulled over,
its engine ticked off, cooling. A family is eating
lunch, while a man checks the map to see
the answer to every child’s question:
are we there yet? He’s not sure where they are.
Perhaps, they missed the turn. His wife is angry.
They should have turned right long time ago
but he was too lazy to ask questions, or
he said too many times he trusted his instincts.
The wind did not bring them here.

The town ahead is too small to be looking for.
Their two boys know it is time to play in mud,
while adults settle their scores. The houses
are turning on their suppertime lights.
Sheep are heard ringing in the fields, nearing,
like child’s questions. Everyone wants to know
where they are in relation to home, and crave
a familiar sight; no one wants to be in the lost.

No map tells you where you are,
but only your relationship to somewhere
if you have a familiar landscape.
And you are lost in anger, no map gets you out.

The dampness moves in. The doors of the village
open and call out to children. The sky greys
and triangle sheets of rain open like maps.
The van turns on headlights, breaks through mist
hoping someone knows where somewhere is,
while all the time the village knew where home is.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, January 27, 2017 — by Martin Willitts Jr.

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Best of the Net Nominations – 2017


I am happy to announce the following poems have been nominated for the Best of the Net 2017:

Abiding Winter by Risa Denenberg

Affidavit by Terri Muuss

The Balance Between Us by James Diaz

Bone-Chilled by Martin Willitts Jr.

Poem Only Half About Myself by J. Rod Pannek

Tuesday Morning by George Longenecker


From the archives – Let Death Come by Martin Willitts Jr.


Let Death Come
—villanelle, starting with a line from Jane Kenyon

Let evening come — I am not afraid of dying
for I have known the kindness of birds and seed.
Let trouble find someone else. I have time

to find the climbing blue flowers, trying
to talk to God. Let winds tear, let rivers recede,
let evening come — I am not afraid of dying.

None of this will succeed in denying
what I know is true: not one will impede.
Let trouble find someone else, I have time

before I die, to search for God, and find
bees hording secrets and worms for bird feed—
let evening come, I am not afraid of dying

in the winter of my life, in everlasting, crying,
searching. Death will have me, even if I plead:
Let trouble find someone else. I have time,

I have time; I can fit more love in my mind
and heart. Let the turtles try to hide in reeds,
let evening come — I am not afraid of dying.
Let trouble find someone else — I have time.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, January 20, 2016 — by Martin Willitts Jr.

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – Symphony #9 by Martin Willitts Jr.

Symphony #9

Yes, the sparrows sing in the rain
because they adore the unattainable.
They welcome harshness coming afterwards
when the temperature either dips down
or increases, by ten degrees of misery.
Sparrows sing because joy is misery’s twin
and they recognize both like feathers
with or without rain. They sing from branches,
hidden like all great secrets are hidden
and must be searched vigorously.
Their white throats know only release of music
and profound love. They understand music
is given to those who profess. And if they fail,
it is because life had failed them, or if rain
was not long enough, short as pinfeathers.
Rain is giving them what they need. The air
is a great provider. The sky tells: change comes
and goes. Smack of rain is decisive song choices.
To the un-listening ear, there is no difference
between before, during, or after rain,
but I have heard the high chattering
and the calm later. I heard the grateful urges
like crocus opening like an aria. I have heard
worms moving out of the soil as ground swells
with rain, and the excitement of sparrows
to see what has been delivered in exchange
for their unsolicited praise. Yes, it rains
birdsongs. Yes, the sparrows flock in numbers
singing Ode To Joy. Yes, said Beethoven,
that is exactly what God wants from us and
how God rewards us, as his deaf ears filled
with white feathery rainwater. This is how I feel
waking up next to my wife each morning.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, November 16, 2015 — by Martin Willitts Jr.

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim