Martin Willitts Jr
I am a Quaker practicing silent meditation and trying to "see that of God in everything." I try to be attuned with everything and to listen within the silence for the hidden voices. I have over 20 chapbooks and I have a forthcoming one in England about the history of the Burnt-Over District in New York State. I also have 11 full-length collections including forthcoming in January called "How To Be Silent" from FutureCycle Press.
A meadowlark flicks songs like wavering candlelight
and infinity is filled
loneliness cannot look back at me
all shadows on leaves vanish
all wars should stop
but do not.
When I was five, I met a girl from Mongolia.
I rolled these fine vowels in my mouth like marbles:
goulash; anchovies; pierogies; monogram.
She did not speak English, but she understood horses
when she saw a picture, galloping in laughter,
her century long hair, swishing, untamed.
When her house burnt down, the adults said
there was nothing left of her; I know that hurts.
It was too late to save her when she rode into the sunset.
But they were wrong; they often are.
I remember her years later, laughing like vowels,
her name was the pattern of horse hooves fleeing fire.
The Difference between Solitude and Silence
There is a silence beyond the last dirt road
and bitterness of winter stops all work.
For months on end, all movement freezes.
And all that remains of life, of stillness,
is the contemplation as fifty kinds of absence.
That is where eyes squint in light,
in frostbite, in the sounds eons away.
It touches the soft part of the ear.
Reasons travel unaccompanied, if need be.
Here, you could taste what it is really like
to be in a solitude, can accompany them
wherever, whenever it likes,
and perhaps sits alone in its own little corner.
Two non-communicating souls can never
share a bed. It is the same as lovers never touching;
but watch what happens when one reaches out
to straighten a blanket that had slipped off
the other to avoid a new chill.
Silence is that blast of arctic air; conversation
is that sharing. After eight months of absolute dark,
it is possible Spirit can touch here and there.
There is no separation of life from life.
We are sewn together.
Consideration has nothing to do with it.
All those that go before us and all
who go after us,
let them find peace.
In a world of oncoming darkness,
let some people have their actions
When the exiled knock on your door,
will you let them in, comfort them?
Or will you pretend not to be home?
There is a risk someday you will be exiled
and you might be the one outside
banging on a door, pleading to get in.
Forgiveness is a gate.
Your actions are the key to open that gate.
Will you have a key that does not work?
Only a Few Words
There was no one on this quiet morning.
No one to share it with. Nothing
but closed eyes. No stars in the near and far.
No one ignored me. No one hundred voices.
No one to care or not to care. The near
was far. I could close my eyes, no one would know.
The quiet could burn. A voice never asked
where am I? If it had, could I have touched it
and offered it to stay, the morning is far from over?
All over, no stars, no quiet voices, no morning.
No dreaming sun not rising over stillness.
No nearness can be this disquieting.
If I was anymore present, I’d notice the absence
like sunrise on flesh, like a voice
setting inside me and I never saw it coming.
It came this far, stilled, and wanted me.
It stilled within me until it burned. It was far
from over. Stars know this silence, this voice.
I have been given only so many words, so few,
I have to repeat them in silence. It is far
in the nearness. It disquiets the morning voices.
©2016 Martin Willitts Jr