Three Poems by W. Luther Jett






It Is Not in the Sky

There is a city in which I stop
coughing, the dust
no longer plumes, the road
does not crack open
from heat of a thousand suns —
A city beside the sea
where anyone can swim.

Searchlights, sirens —
these are unknown there.
My throat does not go raw,
choke, my hands don’t tremble.
Houses do not collapse
into the street.

There is such a city — I know
it well. Just last night
I visited — just last night
as moonglade shimmered
land and sea and my lover
held my head to her breast.


When I visited my father
in the place where he would take
his last nap,
on one of his better days
we walked to the cafeteria
where we each had a glass
of fresh lemonade.
Earlier, he’d flirted
with the nurses. One of his
better days. And even then,
though I refused to say it
out loud, even to myself,
I knew he would not come home.

In my yard, an oak tree
has more dead branches
than live ones.
My neighbor points this out.
The tree may need
to be taken down,
but neither of us says
these exact words out loud.
There are still a few high
clusters of green leaves.

There is a war
which seems to have no end,
though of course it will end,
and the survivors
will pick through the rubble,
and someone will set up a tent
among the ruins
where they will serve lemonade,
and I wish I could tie
this up nicely, end the poem here.

But people go on dying.
Trees outlive us but not forever.
And people kill and love,
plant trees, make lemonade
only to run out of sugar.
And how this ends
everyone knows
but no-one says it out loud.

This House

A house of four rooms
rests in four different places.
There is a mountain
in one. In another
the sea. I keep
lost objects in the third.
The fourth is where I sleep.

When you come to me
in clothes the colour of earth,
next time — bring your violin.

Here is where all roads
intersect. Here all borders
are erased. There is fog,
first. Next, lightning
in sheets, it keeps
on forever. Smell of rain.
Taste of hidden pines.

When you leave, after
a swallow of red wine —
this house will follow.

Wherever you go, this house.

W. Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals as well as several anthologies. He is the author of five poetry chapbooks: “Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father”, (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and “Our Situation”, (Prolific Press, 2018), “Everyone Disappears” (Finishing Line Press, 2020), “Little Wars” (Kelsay Books, 2021), and “Watchman, What of the Night?” (CW Books, 2022). A full-length collection, “Flying to America” is scheduled for release in the spring of 2024, from Broadstone Press.

Image: Matthew T Rader,, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Author photo by Serena Agusto-Cox.

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