The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Tag: Martin Willitts Jr

Poetry by Martin Willitts



Geese get lost in mist, sidetracked
in heavy stillness, dew-wings
from burn-off, just around the corner
of mountains no one can see
but remember are there, reliable
as geese calling out to each other.

Some are unable to follow the lead,
break from the pattern. Their sounds
bounce off clouds and mountains.
Stillness is stirred from the low ground,
biting the air. At noon, still, no one can see.

It might get worse. It is better to sit tight,
hope for the weather to shift, clouds lifting
like a flock of geese over transparent lakes.


Also known as Locoweed (Astragalus tragacantha)
Iranian and Chinese herbal medicine

If you want to be a herbalist,
open this secret like a woman’s silk kimono.
You have to have some knowledge of tinctures.
Otherwise, it has no purpose.
You will go crazy trying to make cures
and it won’t work for charlatans.
If you do not know what you are doing,
you are little more than larva
feeding on astragalus leaves.

It is the natural gum Tragacanth you are after.
Twist into ribbons or flakes, powdered,
absorbed with water, stir into a paste
the size of an ankle bone. Otherwise,
it is useless. The mixture is not right.
The cure will fail the patient.
You might as well try to cure using a kimono.



Martin Willitts is a retired Librarian living in Syracuse, and he tends to his organic garden. His poems have appeared in Furious Gazelle, Kentucky Review, Centrifugal Eye, Nine Mile Magazine, Blue Fifth, Comstock Review, and the infamous many others. He has been nominated for 11 Pushcarts and 11 Best of the Net. Winner of the2012 Big River Poetry Review’s William K. Hathaway Award ; co-winner of the 2013 Bill Holm Witness Poetry Contest; winner of the2013 “Trees” Poetry Contest; winner of the 2014 Broadsided award; winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Contest. He has 8 full-length collections and 20 chapbooks of poetry. Forthcoming include “How to Be Silent” (FutureCycle Press), “God Is Not Amused With What You Are Doing In Her Name” (Aldrich Press), and “Dylan Thomas and the Writer’s Shed” (FutureCycle Press).

“How to Write Poetry” by Martin Willitts Jr

How to Write Poetry



They will never understand you,

although you speak clearly

as light through leaf-break

splitting shadows in a dense forest.

You will be misunderstood,

because to them you are a river

evading a dam

to keep under control

for they will never comprehend wildness

and they will never try.

They will force what they cannot

into confines, but you are air

leaking in cracks, whispering

your difference. They are impatient.

They will go past gentle persuasion,

right to strong arm tactics.

It won’t work. You are light in a dark room.


Pretend to listen to them.

It appeases them. Make it believable.

Tell them, yes, yes, I agree;

when you don’t. Take what they say,

weigh the truth or lies of it.

If it seems almost right, consider slowly,

is it almost what you need

because it never will be one hundred percent.

If it feels like a half-truth or outright lie,

and it will, then consider what they gain,

what you lose, and the gap between.

Is it huge? They never expect thinking;

they only know forced cooperation.

They think everyone thinks like them.

They only know public relations

and blind obedience.

Become whitecaps stirring in a storm.


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