At Mountain Crest

Picone, Elephant Butte


At the blank-faced cliff edge

easternmost peak, in the last

choking sunlight,


the heart knows quickness.

The wind is directionless

from this unspoiled earth.


Before it is erased,

this entire world throbs, pulses away —

even the breakneck river tries to get away.


There is an insurrection of light over color and air.

There are no stragglers of clouds.

Weather is approaching beastly over rocks.


A spray of birds is squawking into the bright light

and disappearing

as if into a hole into another earth.


There is a weakness in the distant horizon.

There seems to be fire coming off this certainty.

The river does not stay around long enough to find out.


There is a dizzy tightness of the heart

while sitting on this sideways tilting rock face.

It could go any moment, take me with it,


into the nothingness, into the mouth of it

with its rushing flow-sound like rapids,

like birds flushing aimlessly or startled breath.


The river takes my thoughts far away

where it will empty. I cannot see where

breaking like stepped-on twigs.


Martin Willitts Jr has over 20 chapbooks and 11 full-length collections including “How to Be Silent” (FutureCycle Press, 2016). He is a 15 time nominee for the Pushcart award. His poems have appeared in Centrifugal Eye, Blue Fifth Review, Kentucky Review, Comstock Review, and many more.

Photo Credit: “Elephant Butte” by Maria S. Picone. Picone has an MFA from Goddard College. Her writing and art appear in Homestead Review, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and GTK Creative. Her photography documents the interesting and unusual places she’s been, including Cambodia, Uganda, and Australia. Her Twitter is @mspicone and her website is