★ ★ ★ ★



A horse was heaving,

after almost running out of its skin,
leaving the world breathlessly behind.

There are moments like this —

perfect surrender — never lasting.
Some of us catch a glimpse of it,
a tail flickering light. Some never see it,
never believing it happened
when they hear later all about it.

Some never see Spirit’s eyes are not stern,
but are soft, voluminous, seeing into us.

Rising out of our darkness is wonderous!
To love the rising is even more thrilling.
To feel ourselves rising out of ourselves,
merging with twilight,
our mane flaring in racing wind —

unthinkable if you don’t try —

to throw yourself into the moment —
now, that
is something worth knowing.

Yoshida at Tōkaidō
Katsushika Hokusai, Picture #19 from Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji

At this waystation, on the edge of the Tōkaidō highway, Mount Fuji in the background. Men and women are eating or resting. I cannot afford to eat. I have to feast on the memory of love.

Three women are pointing excitedly at the mountain, but not everyone cares. Still, they point and blush like they have met their first love. The mountain is there, where it has always been; the mountain has not descended into the ocean along with the sun.

A man has a mallet, and he is about to strike whatever is inside his bag. Another man is leaning on a heavy woven yellow chest. Yet another tired man has crossed his right leg over his left leg, and considers if his stack of tied packages is too tall, although they are as light as paper. None of them seemed to be thinking about love.

A man with the long pipe offers me a sample of its tobacco smoke smell, but not its taste.

I keep filling my dreams with my wife, building dreams as layers of clouds. I have inhabited my own skin long enough. No one else would want my body except my shadow, and even then, occasionally, my shadow escapes. Look! There goes my shadow, like tobacco smoke from a long clay pipe’s tiny round bowl.

Love is folding and unfolding like origami.

When traveling far,
go light as morning’s first light;
leave shadow behind.


Martin Willitts Jr has 24 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 11 full-length collections including The Uncertain Lover (Dos Madres Press, 2018)  and Coming Home Celebration (FutureCycle Press, 2019). He is an editor for The Comstock Review.


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