Poems by Terri Witek

By Daytime, the Search

In Portuguese, the word for suicide is suicide, but the most heavily accented syllable is the third—su-i-CHEE-day.   So until someone stops me I’ll translate suicide as “your city.”  Where you have gone.   Where I won’t send this.

Leading away from the city, a suicide note = footprints in snow.   No one shelters in   forest opposite the last house (an A-frame with lights still burning).  No one presses into the pattern differently-weighted boots.  When a suicide doesn’t leave a note, the porch light finds only snow.

Historical Note 1:   Another delicious note goes the rounds.    Virginia Woolf’s’s, por exemplo–she sounds so like herself.    At another day’s end we redact finance, war, something about shoes.   Music drifts through.  I’ve got scissors in hand but haven’t killed VW.  She can’t seem to kill me.  I guess we’re friends now, even though she’s dead.



Practice Run 2

Tour stops: the metal T of clothesline

and a 3-teeth comb dropped next to the bed.

Other articles missing.  We’d meet next

in the drugstore’s fluorescent midnight,

but that sign’s dropped its X,

so let’s try the RR station just beyond town.

By now I’m running, clutching my purse

with its lottery ticket and change.

Braless.  Late again.  But why hurry

this last poor excuse of a self,  glacier scrape

before mountain, knife before lightning?

Colder.  Now I drift through an hour

sliding cloud by cloud further

from the deepest regret of its life.

The country’s been changed for a country of snow.

There’ll be two of you, soon, to pay back

my waiting.  It’s finally clear:

what delay makes of us is what I most love,

not tracks half-eclipsed by snow

nor the imminent brake screech,

not your agreement, splayed less-than-yes,

that when you arrive safely, me too.


Terri Witek is the author of 4 books of poems, a poetry-comic book chapzine, and a book about Robert Lowell’s revisions among other projects.  Her collaborations with visual artist Cyriaco Lopes, often site-specific, include gallery shows, performances, and street interventions.  A professor at Stetson University, she runs The Fernando Pessoa Game during the summer Disquiet International Program (Lisbon).


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