Gary Witt

Gary Witt Poems

You have your game-face on again;
The don’t-mess-with-me face that comes
With its own combative attitude.
Not pleased with being pleased,

He said I confess that I doubt.
I want the truth and have no desire
To whisper prayerfully into a hole.
So, neither believing nor disbelieving,

Bricks heaped upon lumber,
Laid upon lungs to extricate
Evil from thoughts perceived
To have turned from God.

He’d grown quite tired by then, but still he tried
To appease or even please that ghost whose voice
Pursued him, critical of every move—
Pursued him easily, relentlessly;

I would pray then at my bedside,
Fingers tightly intertwined,
Eyes straining to close around themselves,
Thoughts thrown with all my strength—

She coaxed him into lessons
With a tug on his sleeve
And a kiss that tasted of
Dark bitter chocolate—

Whom did you leave behind, Virginia,
When the voices summoned you
Into the river and you strode down,
Stout stones filling the pockets of your overcoat?

Stubbornly floundering
Between both and neither,
I am young for I still have heroes
Who have not been shamed,

If innocence and wonder together
Are the true foundation of wisdom
(And they are, you know they are)
Then innocence has not been lost

When she reached on tip-toe
To pull down the hazelnut
From above the La Marzocco,
Her shirt would ride up to reveal

You don’t seem to understand, old man,
I’m not gonna die, not today,
Not tomorrow, not ever.
But you just don’t get it.

Alone, the morning glories bloom,
And wither in a single day.
Together, their tendrils strive and stretch
In flowering spirals


A gentle hand over our eyes,
Death’s meager comfort is its certitude;
Its one true lasting pain found
In festering questions shouted down the hall:

In five days Raul will die from falling
On a knife blade held in the fist of
An acquaintance.
His good friend Paulo will hold him

The heron at gray dawn
Preys in stillness,
Then rises in muscular commotion,
Beating the air with huge wings;

I have no money but I am buying
Horses for someone else’s parade—
Rose-colored mares that stand four abreast,
Perfectly matched with spangled bridles,

Walk with me awhile
On this path we seem to share.
Rough though it may be, and steep,
Who knows how far it will lead us

He asked was there ever a time when an artist
Would brag of his palette or brushes or oils.

She said no I don’t think so why he said well

The cabbie wore his Kangol back,
Reversed; it looked like a beret;
Bohemian but still respectable.
His left eye, clouded, milky, never moved,

Longing for truth that saturates;
That soaks the skin, that clings and clutches—
Soothes, and will not release,
Absent ecstatic surrender.

Gary Witt Biography

In the opening years of the Twenty-First Century there was to be found among the fops and fools of the Starbucks coffee-houses one pudgy, well-fed paunch named Gary Witt, more lethargic than confused, and yet more confused than talented, who, unlike most of his boyhood friends who had received solid, pragmatic training at Northeastern A&M or Tri-County Diesel Academy, had found the sound of Mother English more fun to game with than her sense to labor over, and so rather than applying himself to the pains of scholarship, had learned the knack of versifying, and ground out quires of couplets after the fashion of the day, afroth with guns and gangstahs, aclang with jarring raps and bling, and string-taut with hoes and rakes and other such faux pas similes stretched to the snapping point. –Ebenezer Cooke, with apologies to John Barth Poetry is a Destructive Force By Wallace Stevens That's what misery is, Nothing to have at heart, It is to have or nothing. It is a thing to have, A lion, an ox in his breast, To feel it breathing there. Corazon, stout dog, Young ox, bow-legged bear, He tastes its blood, not spit. He is like a man In the body of a violent beast. Its muscles are his own... The lion sleeps in the sun. Its nose is on its paws. It can kill a man. Wallace Stevens I’ve wondered why this one by Stevens didn’t make it onto this site. Here are my thoughts on the poem. I would be most interested in others’ thoughts as well. First off, there is a certain irony when the sentence, “Poetry is a destructive force” is uttered by a VP and General Counsel of the Hartford Insurance Co. I can only imagine what was going on in his life when WS first thought of this sentence on his way to the office one morning. What I love about this poem is the series of reversals in meanings that occurs. I believe it is in this constant shifting and reversal that we discover the Truth behind the title. By reversing meaning, but using the same words to express that reversal, Stevens uses the poem itself as a destructive force. Let me try to show you what I mean. The sentence structure of the first stanza produces a nice double entendre. Misery is (both) to have nothing at heart, and nothing to have at heart. But then (in the first reversal) it becomes imperative to have misery (it is to have or nothing) . Without misery we have nothing—and there is some truth to that in the sense that without misery there can be no concept of happiness. Yin and yang. So then Stevens starts in with the metaphors. Misery is more than something we need. It is a lion or an ox breathing inside “him.” (I take it that “he” is “Corazon, ” but then Stevens could be referring simply to the Spanish word for heart.) Well, there’s a big difference between a lion and an ox. Both are strong, yes, but one is strong like a predator, and the other is strong yet passive. And again, there is truth here: misery can be a predator or it can have the kind of stubborn presence that just weighs down the soul. Stevens doesn’t stop here, though. The conflict between the person and misery is further described as taking place within one's very gut, and marked by the reversal between blood and spit. Corazon tastes the animal’s (misery's) blood instead of his own spit. A confusion of identity begins. The animal “inside” is mixing its elements with the man, Corazon. But then Corazon, again by metaphor, becomes the beast. Stout dog, bow-legged bear. The passage reads like a morphing of sorts. But the reversal (reversal number two) comes in the notion that the beast is no longer just “inside” Corazon. Corazon has taken on other attributes of the beast. Misery, which was once contained in him, now does more than consume him, it actually merges its identity with him. Misery, which started out as something not to have, becomes something we need, and then something inside us, and then something we are. Then, in a third reversal, “he” (Corazon) is no longer strictly a man, “he is like a man/ In the body of a violent beast.” The animal, which was once within, is now containing the man. We are, at last, seen as being consumed by misery. But the identity between ourselves and misery is still there: “Its muscles are his own.” And then (I may have lost count but I think this is reversal number four) the man is gone and all that remains is the lion sleeping with its nose on its paws. Tranquility at last. Misery can kill a man. So, bottom line, Stevens here is not telling us how poetry is a destructive force, he is showing us. Of course, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong. Read more Stevens. Tell me what you think.)

The Best Poem Of Gary Witt

A Most Delicious Strawberry

You have your game-face on again;
The don’t-mess-with-me face that comes
With its own combative attitude.
Not pleased with being pleased,
You seem incapable of a smile;
Not a cheek-aching, ab-cramping,
Incontinent belly-laugh,
But something as simple as a smile.

Can you scowl in the presence
Of a four year old wearing
A Halloween costume
With cape?
Can you frown under the patient,
Steady, brown-eyed stare of a
Labrador coveting
Your plate?

Have you forgotten how to savor
The simple strawberry?

The story goes, a man in India,
While walking through the woods,
Encountered a tiger.
Well, being a wise man,
And quite astute,
He precipitously turned
And fled.
The tiger, with his own degree
Of wisdom and perspicacity,
And with a feline sense of humor,
Gave chase,
Until the man came to a cliff and jumped;
No blink, no pause, just a leap,
And falling, grabbed onto a sapling.
Hanging there, feet dangling
(Like a participle)
With one fist wrapped
Around the most paltry of sprigs,
The man spotted a strawberry
Growing nearby
Which he immediately picked
And ate.
It was a most delicious strawberry.

Gary Witt Comments

Philip Housiaux 26 April 2008

I wanted to acknowledge I suspect for many, work and insight that Gary Witt is putting into his commentary on others work. In my own case I had written a several page deliberately difficult piece. Gary made three points - 1. that the poem was not in fact about the prima facie topic 2. the use of a verse derived in greek/roman epic style and 3. the use of faux style - the deliberate self portrayal of dishonesty. I had laboured for 10 weeks in bringing these elements into the work as an aid to my message. You can imagine my pleasure when I saw that someone had identified these.

3 0 Reply
Another poet 11 January 2018

Gary, I have to ask, are you related to Brian Witt From Montana

0 0 Reply
delilah contrapunctal 10 December 2009

Gary is, in my view, a brilliant poet....and a delightful human being, as well....a treasure among us, this man....

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K.C. Wassner 06 December 2009

If in 15 years I'm as good a poet as you are, I will have mastered the art of writing poetry in less than 15 years.

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Scarlett Treat 29 July 2009

You are, Sir, a man who, with shortness of words, points out, with both wit and wisdom, things that we often times miss ourselves, and always, always, you bring us back to the main thrust of this site...poetry. Well done!

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Tsira Goge 01 September 2008

Poetry - destructive force... Poetic a word during time soldiers are the whole arsenal... I very much liked your theory about a lion who sleeps on the sun as though easy... You have sharp eyes of the critic

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