"Little Witches"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
May 22 2012 6:00 AM

"Little Witches"


Illustration Witches from Geiler.

Abbildung aus Geiler von Keisersberg.

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Lauren Watel read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

There’s a witch in my hair
who hides my spectacles
and one in my neck
who hectors me

The witch in my left arm socket
signals changes in my direction

The witch in my ankle wears armor
and wields a sharpened pike
for daily reenactments
of the Battle of Leuctra
on the side of the Spartans

A collection agency
leaves ominous messages
alluding to bills past due
for the witch in my belly

The witch in my locked skullbox
gazes through mirrored casements
at wavering winds
warbler song
the breath of ghosts
grief’s gritted teeth

An endless sentence
of peine forte et dure
depresses the witch
in my chest

The witch in my right temple
knitted me a tiny carcinoma
out of crushed scarlet velvet

At the corner of Boundary and Main
the witch in my legs lags

The witch in my ears can hardly hear
the complaint of a leak
before fluids escape

What began as an earthworm
wallowing in reddish sludge
the witch in my palms
shaped into a conscience

There is no doubt that certain
witches can do marvelous things
with regard to male organs

according to Heinrich Kramer
15th-century inquisitor and author
of the Malleus Maleficarum
which explains why the witch
in my snatch is so musical

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site. Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.   

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.