by Martin Willitts

Writer’s Workshop

Write what you know, the professor suggested;

but what if you’ve forgotten every piece of information
you’ve ever known? What if you’ve crossed an intersection
of your life and you realize you’re lost, the map
is all wrong, and your past just keeps getting in the way?

What do I know that is worth knowing?  On the way,
I missed the bus. I learned buses never arrive on time,
but they depart when you are not there.
And, in the rush to miss my connection,
I left a part of me still struggling to get dressed,
buttoning my shirt, tripping on loose shoe laces,
my hair every which way like that picture of Robert Frost,
wind-tossed, reciting at the Kennedy inauguration.

I am not famous enough to be so forgetful. But if I was,
would the bus wait for me, tapping impatiently?

I was not even in that classroom.
I happened to ignorantly walked by, accidently
ease-dropping. I don’t even have to respond.
I do not even have to know anything.
I blissfully missed bus connections; but here I am,
writing everything I definitely do not know.


Seasons depend on internal compasses
and all I can do is watch
as days are getting harder, bitterer,
with staying and leaving,

marking what is ours, what is not —
moving on and disappearing, touching
tree tops with darkness,
unraveling the remaining days.

Dark comes sudden.
We never seem ready for it —
it arrives harder, bitterer, a season
for staying or leaving.

There’s nothing we can take when we leave,
leaving much, perhaps all, behind,
unraveling darkness our remaining days,
until nothing, nothing, nothing remains.

How Could We Not Know Winter is Near

Of course, the season grays.
Of course, we came into the weather unprepared.
All danger really ever teaches us
is that nothing is contained or restrained.

Late fall will be nasty, light will dwindle,
and we’ll withdraw into our home,
hoping winter will not last forever. Of course,
we doubt it will end anytime soon.

Of course snow clouds hover.
Light jaunts between snow.
I begin counting every moment until the land vanishes.
Oh course, the cold bites without teeth.

That moan — like a thrash of winter wind —
is my soul. Of course it is. Of course.
My soul feels gray, unprepared for the long duration.
My soul is seen in my breath in sub-zero air.

Love Is Never Far From Us

Loss, perhaps, is not far from us,
yet it seems so far away;
We are overwhelmed with loss.

When we believe (for our belief is false)
love is gone forever, it betrays —
loss, perhaps, is not far from us.

Loss is never far away. Loss is never lost.
It is with us every day.
We are overwhelmed with loss.

Small moments remind us what’s false.
Loss comes again, today and today.
Loss, perhaps, is not far from us;

maybe, the sadness is just across.
We never know completely what to say,
we are overwhelmed with loss.

We try to hold on and let go at all costs.
Sometimes, loss comes unexpectantly.
Loss, perhaps, is not far from us —
we are overwhelmed with loss.

About the Author:

Martin W.

Martin Willitts Jr has 23 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, “The Wire Fence Holding Back the World” (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 15 full-length collections including forthcoming full-lengths includes “The Uncertain Lover” (Dos Madres Press, 2018), and “Home Coming Celebration” (FutureCycle Press, 2019).