Martin Willitts Jr.


I am what happen when things flow wrong. I am what
does not go away. I contaminate prayers with sorrow.
I am what never ends when you want it end. I am
things out of control. I am one of those things
that increase exponentially. The only certainty
is uncertainty. This is what it looks like
to be half-life.
What Could Go Wrong?

In a protest, things can go wrong. Ask anyone.
Ask the one with a lump on his noggin. Ask the other one
with a lump in his throat, so patriotic, he is crying
Confederate flags. Ask the one in the paddy wagon.
Ask him if he remembers how it got its name,
especially as he spits loose teeth. Call it a Riot Test.
Ask the person who stayed at home
knowing things would happen. Ask the thick man,
could he pass the Voters Registration test? Quick:
What is the Twelfth Amendment? What does Maine grow?
When a bus leaves X at 60 miles an hour,
where is it tomorrow? Get one answer wrong, you fail.
Try answering without teeth. If you are the wrong color,
you must vote blinded with tear gas. The protest is held up.
There is something wrong. What is happening? Ask
someone. Ask someone who cares. Ask the man his name
when lumped together with other men in a paddy wagon.
Ask the man with the flag, crying the wrong answers.

I could tell you how things could go wrong,
but then you would know the answers. If a bus leaves,
do exhaust fumes remain? At 60 miles per hour
it would still be lost on a dirt road, near nothing
for miles, except rocks looking like lost teeth.
If they grow rutabagas in Maine, does it matter
what color they are in the dark? If the Constitution declares
twelve days are in a month, does it explain failure?
In tear gas, do flags set at half-mast? And, is it wrong
to lump all names into a single non-identity,
so when they come to arrest us, we have no names afterwards?
The man knocking teeth out does not care. He knows
he has the wrong answer. It just doesn’t matter.

© Martin Willitts Jr.

Martin Willitts Jr.’s forthcoming poetry books include Waiting For The Day To Open Its Wings (UNBOUND Content), Art Is the Impression of an Artist (Edgar and Lenore’s Publishing House), City Of Tents (Crisis Chronicles Press), Swimming In the Ladle of Stars (Kattywompus Press). He is the winner of the inaugural Wild Earth Poetry Contest for his full length collection Searching For What Is Not There (Hiraeth Press).

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