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Posted on Oct 28, 2013

Searching for What is Not There | A Preview

Searching for What is Not There | A Preview

This past summer we announced the 2 winners of the 2013 Wild Earth Poetry Prize. We released the first winning collection, Crow Feathers, Red Ochre, Green Tea by Gwendolyn Morgan this past August. Now we are preparing to release the second winner,Searching for What’s Not There by Martin Willitts Jr. The book is now available!

Searching For What Is Not There is a meditative and spiritual quest by a Quaker organic gardener trying to restore and heal the earth throughout the four seasons, from planning to planting to harvesting. In this world everything is connected, interconnected, and if one thing fails, the whole world could suffer including the heavens. Tiny voices reach out and beg for listening and repair. If we could re-visit Eden, this is the kind of care-taking that would be necessary. In many of the poems, there is almost-prayer, almost-lamination, and at other times in awe and amazed by all of creation. These poems become ecstatic and mystical beliefs.

Martin Willitts Jr is a quaker, organic gardner, and retired librarian living in Syracuse, New York. He pro­vided a work­shop How to Make Origami Haiku Jumping rigs at the 2012 Massachusetts Poetry Festival. He won the William K. Hathaway Award for Poem of the Year 2012. He was nom­i­nated for 5 Pushcart and 4 Best of the Net Awards. Martin has pub­lished 4 full-​​length and over 20 poetry chap­books.


Searching for What is Not There


Looking into a lake, things are elsewhere, off

center as love when it first enters and leaves.


There is a shimmer of fish,

not where the line drops, but in an angle


frustrating as rejection. Our boat sinks and rises

heaving on the lake ’s chest. It takes everything in


and gives it back, reflecting on that moment,

sighing in insightful serious tones.



I find a stone soothed by its passing.

I am reassured everything is constant and moving.


Everything is replaced.

Everything is a message for interpretation.


I dip my hands into the water, break

the sheen of surface into its translucent skin.



It is strange, isn’t it, how things find each other?

The alabaster water finds the land.


There is listening among the cattails. A raven

studies intently at its own reflection of dark-blue feathers.


You edge at the water waiting for it to move.

Something in me ripples when you call my name.



Things are not what they seemed at first.

Reflection and new light makes things what they are.


When you reach into water, the thing you try to get

is elsewhere. Who am I to judge what is clear


or not. What is now is different. When I look again

you are still there, dissipated into rain,


hesitant as a migration searching for something better.

It is the staying that seems strange and right.



A journey begins as the sun takes off,

bunches of feathers remaining in a nest of branches.


Fish strike out at small things making ripples

moving towards us. Everything moves closer.


Canoes paddle into shore, in wavering heat.

Gulls circle and lift like hearts.


What was not there before,

is there now.