Cathexis Northwest Press
Glass Jars at a Cafe
By: Russell Willis
Jars of green glass
looking old and thereby antique (or merely nostalgic)?
meant to hide biological remnants of live plants?
her favorite color?
what was left in the right number when the order was placed online?
Two of them on the table
one with two plants in the same jar
the one on the left side of the jar (my left) with miniature, delicate pink
and white buds,
the one on my left (after turning the jar 180ᐤ) resembling the pussy willow
my grandfather used to grow in his garden in Texas,
shades of purple and ochre and pale green
the other has only one plant
no color but green
a color of green that surely has its own name
plumb leaves and stems uncomfortably bloated
roots streaming from a bulb-like appendage below the stems
wispy, trailing into the greenness
hundreds of wisps…
not moving yet suggesting current
a different green; not-so-pleasant yellow-green
strands of space-time
alternate universes spawned by a singularity
extending into the future
but not the Future
pointing in relatively the same direction
of the same essence
of relatively the same length
some longer than others
ones with promise?
just fast starters?
don’t know any better?
no guts, no glory?...
How long have I been staring at the second green jar
on a table
in a cafe
about to close
in the middle of Vermont
on an almost Spring day?
Ethicist and online education entrepreneur, Russell Willis, emerged as a poet in 2019. Since then, his poetry has been published in over 20 online and print journals and nine anthologies. Russell grew up in and around Texas, was vocationally scattered throughout the Southwest and Great Plains for many years, and is now settled in Vermont with his wife, Dawn. Russell’s website is REWillisWrites.com
“'Glass Jars at a Cafe' is one of a very few poems actually written in the moment it reflects. My plans to write for a few hours in a New England bookshop in Waterbury, Vermont, had been derailed by a reading session they were setting up for. I decided to grab a cup of coffee at the attached cafe only to find that they were still on off-season hours and would be closing in a few minutes. So I ordered the last cup of coffee before they washed the pot, and sat at a table they had already cleaned, promising not to make a mess.
My journal had opened itself on the table, as a well-used journal is apt to do. I do not remember what spurred me to start writing, but I found myself chronicling what was wandering through my conscious mind. Since I was not watching an event, but taking in a still-life, it was a truly timeless moment. I wrote unhurriedly, in close detail. I wrote what I thought as I observed the green jars that had caught my attention for some reason, consciously writing a poem, not just notes or phrases (as is my more normal process). I suddenly stopped writing when the phrase “no guts, no glory” (which I am known to use from time to time, much to the chagrin of my grown children!) finally broke my train of thought. The nonsequitor between lines 22 and 23 happened unconsciously. I clearly remember asking my self what I had been thinking before, and quickly wrote the final six lines. The final version was an almost direct transcript from the journal, most of the word choices, phrasing, and even the indentation happened in the original writing."