by Martin Willitts Jr

I am tired of waiting for the world to get better
when everyone is causing such a headache
and heartache, and I am getting a toothache
from clenching my teeth in frustration.
Waiting becomes impossible and I get restless
pacing the line of anger and action,
a prizefighter pacing between too many punches
and too dumb to fall down, too mania
to know when he is beaten although brains leak
like spaghetti out of his thick head.

Someone finally asked me what I was waiting for,
thinking with my religious fever it must be simmering
into a prophecy or proclamation or exclamation
or rapture or rupture of spleen or radiant light.
I said, where is the exit? I expected improvement
not an escalation into insanity, not prehistoric thinking,
not categories of excuses or excessive compulsions
to do the most harm to the weakest. Since when
did it become common to be a bully? Did I miss it?

Had I waited so long that it went past me?
I tried to be observant. I tried praying for good.
I might as well surrender. I am tired of waiting
for what will never arrive, which seems forbidden,
and all I wanted was a piece of silence
not pieces of peace, shredded, tossed away
like all promises no one keeps. Wait for it,
they say, but good intentions demands response
and some people have closed their ears.
Waiting is a sucker’s bet. I am tired of waiting.

I stood in the killing fields
knee deep of the bleeding waiting
for the helicopters to airlift
the wounded while I held on
to the blown guts or missing arms,
waiting for the politicians to notice
war is endless with no winners
and I am tired of waiting for bullets
to evaporate and I am tired of waiting.

I am tired of the drive-by shootings.
I am tired of the restlessness of people
wearing hopelessness around their neck.
While waiting, factories were closing up shop
waiting for the next best thing
that never comes. I am tired of waiting
for approval and I am tired of hearing
it is OK when it is not.

I am tired of waiting it out
baking in the excuses
dialing wrong numbers of forgiveness.
Tired of waiting for the end of the world
like it was a stopwatch
and someone keeps resetting doomsday earlier.
I am waiting tired near the finishing line
empty as a song without lyrics.

I am tired of feeling overwhelmed
so I am going to do something about it.
I am not waiting for permission
or a license or a protest to be called
and I am not going to be placed on hold
or put in the back or at the end of a line
or ignored for waiting is not what I do
and never have done.

I will continue to rant and rave and wave
banners against injustice
which is what I have done and continue
until someone above hears me,
responds by doing the right thing
or locks me in jail or rubs my name in dirt
or threatens me with more waiting.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Either 1973 or 1974, I met Lawrence Ferlinghetti at a writer’s workshop. He asked me for some more poems and gave me his address. I sent some poems and never expected a response. He sent a request for more poems. This went on for a while, and I was almost published by him. Each letter included a hand-drawn sketch. But I did not believe I was good enough. I had no confidence. I still lack confidence. What I remember most was his generosity. I doubt he remembers me, I cannot forget him.

IMAGE: “Hurry Up Schedule” by Ed Ruscha (2002).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martin Willitts Jr, has seven full-length collections including national ecological winner, Searching For What Is Not There (Hiraeth Press, 2013) and 28 chapbooks. He won the International Dylan Thomas Poetry Award for the centennial.