Witness

By Philip Lamantia 1927–2005 Philip Lamantia
Because the dark suit is worn it is worn warm
    with a black tie
and a kiss at the head of the stairs

When you hear the dark suit rip
on the heart’s curb the hurt is big
     rose flesh caught on the orange woman’s buttons

As you talk metropole monotone
                  antique intelligence
as you dress wounds by peyotl looming the boulevards
women hunt their children from you
who look out
                  lit still inside of a dark suit

Philip Lamantia, “Witness” from The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia. Copyright © 2013 by Philip Lamantia. Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia (University of California Press, 2013)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Philip Lamantia 1927–2005

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, The Body, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Surrealist poet Philip Lamantia was born in San Francisco in 1927, the son of Sicilian immigrants. Largely self-taught, he started writing in elementary school and became interested in surrealism after seeing the work of Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí at the San Francisco Museum of Art. He dropped out of high school and moved to New York City, where he eventually became assistant editor at View magazine. In New York, Lamantia . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Body, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.