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Saturday, October 26, 2013


by Martin Willitts Jr.


Suddenness is our nature.
Once there was a village;
now there is not.

Once in the Basque Country village
in northern Spain,
love was tuned like a guitar;
now there is no music
ripped hearts of sheet music
no one heard.

Once someone was sleeping
peaceful as grapes waiting for harvest;
then abruptly, without warning,
they were harvested.

Once the houses were quiet;
then they were quieted.


The men were gone at the time.
The village was mostly women,
and children no bigger than a coin.
There was a building of stored weapons
on the edge of town,
spared during the attack.
This was not about politics,
or who was right, or war.
It was all about intimidation.

All the petty reasons did not apply.
They never do.
The only thing that mattered
was efficiency and expediency.
All that mattered was the quickness,
the shutting of doors,
churning blood passive.

Do not look at the child broken like a doll.
Look at how quickly everything was resolved.
Do not think of it as mean-spirited.
Think of it as progress.
In fact, according to everyone,
do not think of it at all.

Someone says, this does not happen anymore.
I wonder, if they follow the news
or hide their heads in the sand like ostriches.
How self-important and civilized they must feel.

I wonder if they would change their minds
if they were minding their own business
and a drone unexpectedly attacked.

Once there was a village,
a child crossing the street to somewhere,
not doing anything suspicious,
not whistling, not thinking anything terrifying;
then swiftly,
they were not there,
a black smudge,
nothing important,
nothing to write home about.


All wars are the same war.
No one remembers what caused them;
Collective Forgetfulness.
One minute, someone is eating a sandwich,
the next minute,
someone is killed for eating a sandwich.

All causes of the war are always unexplainable.
Anyone who justifies them
does not remember the pain caused by war.
Collective Disassociation.

Afterwards, the victor gets to write history.
Afterwards, the losers are treated as sore losers.

All dead soldiers are dead regardless of sides.
All wounded make us turn away,
denying we saw anything.
Collective Blindness, Deafness, See-No-Evil.

Someone once challenged me,
if you were in a war you would protect yourself.
I was in a war and I did not protect myself;
I was too busy being a Medic
holding the pieces of bodies,
jigsaw pieces,
wondering what went where.


Someone asked me,
which war I were you in?
Does it matter?
All wars blend into all wars.
All people killed in a war
can look like put through a blender.

Why doesn’t anyone ask me,
what does peace look like?
I have a vision of it.

Instead they want to know,
where were you?
what was the weather like?
They never want to hear,
it was cloudy
with a chance of dying.

Once, there was a village
whose importance was blown up
by bombs
and when they were done
mopping up
nothing remained

Martin Willitts, Jr. has had publications in Big City Lit, Rattle, Pebble Lake Review, Hurricane Blues (anthology),, Haigaonline, Bent Pin, 5th Gear, Slow Trains, Primal Sanities (anthology) and others. He has a print chapbook Falling In and Out of Love (Pudding House Publications, 2005), an online chapbook Farewell--the journey now begins on 2006, in archives), a full length book of poems with his art The Secret Language of the Universe (March Street Press, 2006), print chapbook Lowering Nets of Light (Pudding House Publications, 2007), online chapbook News from the Front, edited a poetry anthology about cancer, Alternatives to Surrender (Plain View Press, 2007), and an online chapbook of haiku with his artwork, Words & Paper.