3 poems by Alan Toltzis

    Updated: Jan 26

    Spring Along The 5

    A field of weeds releases

    swaying yellow hallelujahs—

    flourishes that surge

    through the San Juaquin valley.

    Heavy with sun

    a few stray cattle, scatter

    among rows of bare pomegranates

    steep on a hillside orchard.

    Battling sleep, one bows on spindly legs

    nestling his heavy body, listening

    to blossoms

    and the promise of blossoms.

    A Psalm of Unreason

    For some reason

    that remains beyond reason,

    things keep going wrong.

    Goodness crumbles

    into smaller

    and smaller pieces. 

    I watch God age 

    into an old man 

    who can’t be bothered. 

    Cold and mumbling, 

    he wears a matted sweater,

    stained and unraveling at the cuffs. 

    Crumbs of trouble cling

    to his pilled, wool, cable-knit

    all the days of my life.

    There’s nothing to do 

    but wait for him 

    to brush them off. 


    One Day

    She carried with her

    the misbegotten and forgotten.

    So much so that Mercy became a spare room,

    left anything but spare.


    Eye to keyhole.

    In the dusty golden light,

    filtering through the torn paper window shade,

    a storehouse of plans, stained and scuttled.

    Seatless chairs. Caning punched out.

    A dusty hutch. Teapots

    cracked and chipped on the middle shelf.

    Empty bureau drawers askew.

    Receipts for necessities it turned out weren’t.

    A flowery, faded, unsigned Mother’s Day card.

    The bird cage, cuttlebone scarred and chewed,

    still wedged between rusted bars.

    Baby teeth collected in an envelope. The bloody gap

    in a smile. Soft. Warm. Spongy.

    Deserted spider webs glistening

    with autumn dew. Secured by silk guy wires spanning

    from pole lamp, to dresser, to ceiling fan.

    And stacks and stacks of hidden sins.

    Obscure. Concealed. Private.

    Written in invisible ink.

    Anything and everything

    that no one remembered anyway.

    Just waiting to be pared down.

    She would turn her attention to this too.

    One day. One day.

    As soon as she was ready

    to let it all go.


    Alan Toltzis is the author of 49 Aspects of Human Emotion and The Last Commandment. A two-time Pushcart nominee, he has published in numerous print and online journals including, Grey Sparrow, The Wax Paper, Hummingbird, IthacaLit, and Panning for Poems. Find him online at alantoltzis.com and follow him @ToltzisAlan.