“Windsong: Solo Flute,” “The Dig,” and “Sudden Gasp”

In Issue 66 by Russell Willis

Photo by Ivan Vranić on Unsplash

Windsong: Solo Flute

The flutes of those

who live


not just in,


mimic windsong.

Even accidental noise

blown by untrained lips

echoes the haunting, ethereal

whistle of wind

through limbs and grass, crops and structures.

Artist adds

nuance and voice.

echoing the wind,

for those who listen

there is in a single fluttering note



               old woman’s sigh,

               baby’s cry.

In the melody of windsong or flute can live

              tone poems of

                            babbling brooks,

                            wind through eagle’s wings,

                            calls from

                                          gulls dodging breakers on the shores of vast oceans,

                                          owls tracking prey in deep forests,

                                          loons standing quiet vigil in the shallows of uncharted


              songs remembered and repeated to the seventh generation

                           love songs

                           lessons in patience



                           epic poems of the rise and fall of civilizations

                                        long before the old world

                                        became the New World,

             music that is of Nature and humanity all at once

                         feeding, ordering, enlightening the soul.

This escapes most of us

who listen neither to the flutes (or their players)

nor the wind.

All we hear…


            phantom’s shrieks

            shrill sirens of Nature

            disturbing our sleep,

            interrupting our hike,

            scaring the children, or

            prompting us to hunker down for safety,

unsettling our souls.

The Dig

The dig takes heart when

something precious is exposed

for then comes gentle strokes

and whispered breathes

to lay bare the veiled,

to reveal what was guessed to be

or conjured from lore or

some clue of shape

or the sudden appearance

of the unexpected;

longed for, then discovered,

best with patience and tenacity

so as not to damage

that which is not yet,

but which lingers either just

beneath the surface or deep within,

calling for even more profound patience

and delicate tenacity

and strength and perseverance

so that with the mercy of the seeker

and the vulnerability of the found

it is finally known

Sudden Gasp

A sudden gasp, dilated eyes,

taut lines around those eyes

and mouth, such lines not normal

for that face, presaging

years of feeling this and every-

thing else that this face will confess.

Clenched and drawn; first the face

and then the rest of the unsuspecting body,

adrenalin coursing where blood

should flow; the displaced blood

pressed into a blushing mask,

deflecting no pain or disease, but

holding an emotional sepsis in,

burning red with psychic fever,

the unfettered adrenaline clenching

the heart until it breaks.

The this, this time, a fear

unbidden yet not unfamiliar,

that stalks behind the

smiles and sighs and

startles with its mere pretense.

The fear that came to visit

once upon a time and chose

to stay so long beyond its

never having been welcomed;

you know, that fear.

That tragic gift that only

someone that you must trust

bestows by an utter failure of

not just sympathy, but

empathy – the presence that

binds and heals and smiles

and sighs and says to fear,

with some real courage,

“you are not welcome here.”

But all you heard was

nothing like that; nothing

that could then, or can

now banish fear or even

hold it at bay.

So now, from time to

time, in the middle

of a sentence or a

break in the action,

a sudden gasp, dilated eyes,

taut lines around those eyes

and mouth welcome

back that fear.

About the Author

Russell Willis

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Russell Willis emerged as a poet in 2019 and has since appeared in over thirty journals and twenty anthologies. Russell grew up in and around Texas, was vocationally scattered as an engineer, ethicist, college/university teacher and administrator, Internet education entrepreneur, and pastor throughout the Southwest and the Western Great Plains for two decades, finally settling in Vermont in 2003 with his wife, Dawn.

Read more work by Russell Willis.