C.N.P Poetry 

  • 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

floating

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

futures

not identical

pointing in relatively the same direction

but not

of the same essence

not quite

of relatively the same length

some longer than others

successful ones?

ones with promise?

just fast starters?

audacious?

precocious?

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."