The New Compass: A Critical Review



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Walter Martin



Snowflake Breakdown


      No two hexagonals alike—

look until Doomsday, frost-bitten

      fingers pawing the diffident

            crystals for the one exception.


      No three-leaf clovers here, no X-

ray coaxes a snowflake’s secret;

      all the answers are a little

            evasive, like places of pi.


      Even W.A. Bentley

who pursued “and still pursues” this

      search, snow after snowfall fifty

            odd winters in Jericho, eyes


      glued to photomicroscope, knows

only this: the specialist does

      not admit defeat. The mutual

            fund of wonder and bewilder-


      ment increases when none can say

why flakes should be miraculous—

      sheepishly symmetrical but

            each one secretly chimaerical.




The Abolition of Hell


Whose order closed the pit

       that gaped wide yesterday?

And can they not fall in it yet

       whose feet are led astray?


Then who put out hell’s fire?

       or has it ceased to burn?

Can you not smell the brimstone here,

       not hear the loud alarm?


Those who stand convicted,

       raked by eternal flame…

If all of these can be evicted,

       where then shall we call home?


Wandering up yonder,

       what else is there to do

but stand in the road and wonder

       if heav’n be empty too?






Martin, Walter. “Poems.” The New Compass: A Critical Review 2 (December 2003)  <>