Performed as part of Stone Soup’s open mic at the Out of The Blue Art Gallery on April 23, 2013. Willitts is seen with his wife, Linda Griggs, at the end of this video, having enjoyed this rendition of his poem by R. Wayne Nickerson, who is accompanied by Ethan Mackler on bass. Compare the text below with R. Wayne’s interpretation.
The Midday Nap
Based on the Painting, “The Midday Nap”
by Vincent Van Gogh, 1889
Not so fast world. Not so fast. There is time
for things both pleasurable and work
so tiring, your arms are ropes of pain.
Our lives are in constant motion.
Each seed knows its own voice
like a horse pulling a hay wagon.
We need to find that moment when things rest
in a field of cut hay, under a triangle shade,
far from the fall harvest, far from exhaustion.
I have learned to take these short siestas,
while the sun plods as a horse never stopping.
A few minutes are all I need.
I am more with the shadows than not. I squint
under a straw hat into what needs to be done.
These are seasons of endless roped haystacks.
I shrug muscles already feeling the swinging scythe.
Already gone to where things are never interrupted.
gone like peaches canned. Or fences mended and breaking.
What is held? The sky is yellow felled grains.
It always will be planted and harvest again.
Always will be this way. Always was.
There will always be couples resting in shade.
They will work until the day is bundled as the hay,
where love is always beginning and ending.
Martin Willitts Jr is a retired Librarian living in Syracuse, New York. He currently evaluates Prior Learning Evaluations for SUNY Empire State College. He is a visual artist of Victorian and Chinese paper cutouts. He was nominated for 6 Pushcart and 6 Best of the Net awards.
R. Wayne Nickerson is a regular contributor to open mics in the Boston and north shore areas. “I pray I’ll continue to do this for a long, long time. Viva Stone Soup, viva fellow writers, good company, good life.”