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3 poems by Alan Toltzis

Updated: Jan 26, 2020

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 and follow him @ToltzisAlan.


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