Leveler Poetry Journal
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kill. this. witch.


The “witch” to which I refer

is not a symbol of womanhood,

nor a symbol for pain,

certainly no meaning to meant to be

given to devil worship, please usher to the exit

that thought, immediately.


No, the “witch” is, in this case,

a witch.


it flies on a broom

it owns a cauldron

it burns fat –

kill. this. witch.


The “witch” is not really a parasite,

nor a physical person

nor an actress or actor in a movie.


The “witch”

has black hair

snarls when stepped on

demands a 10 P.M. bedtime

kill. this. witch.


The witch is not a she

nor a he

nor a teller of destiny, rather,

it is airless




kill. this. witch.


In this instance there’s no forgiving, forgetting, or moving on

and, certainly, no making amends or repentance. Rather,

I’m killing this witch.

Melissa Parietti

levelheaded: kill. this. witch.


We think Melissa Parietti’s poem is a powerhouse and it can’t be stopped. We think she means business–not metaphor, not imagery,  no dancing around the bush–jump straight into the fire, cut throat, and walk out unwavering.


This week, unraveling the workings of the poem for you as we often attempt to do, would slightly mean betraying the poem’s raison d’etre. The poem states so clearly that there aren’t any hidden agendas here. There’s only what it is, and only what needs to be done with it: kill. this. witch. It’s tempting to leave it as is.


Yet we must not betray our own raison d’etre, so here are a few thoughts on this really, really fun read.


When the poet discusses how cumbersome meaning is, she writes “certainly no meaning to meant to be[.]” The actual line does not end there but instead cleverly breaks to leave us puzzled for a split second before we realize “to be” is really “to be / given to devil worship[.]” The sentence makes sense, and it ends with an instruction (basically to push away thoughts about meaning), clear and demanding, the opposite effect of what a search for meaning does to us. The jawbreaking “no meaning to meant to be” is grammar and style manifesting the very concept they argue.


So this first stanza is a statement of purpose, and it’s followed by a second and third stanzas that plainly declare the facts and the resolution. The speaker faces a witch. The witch has all the props. It is what it seems to be. It needs to be eliminated.


Hold on though. What’s happening now? “The ‘witch’ is not really a parasite, / nor a physical person / nor an actress or actor in a movie.” If she isn’t a real person or even an actor, mustn’t she be a metaphor after all? A concept? An archetype? Where do we find her so we can kill her? The hints we are given point to a domestic environment, bedtime, black hair. An evil stepmother? A wicked teacher in a boarding school? Those are wild guesses. It’s hard to avoid fairytales and find ground within the confines of the speaker’s declarations – no physicality, no acting, no symbol, not even gender: “The witch is not a she / nor a he[.]”


Read the last stanza. There’s clearly something personal here because “there’s no forgiving, or moving on[.]” Counting the title we had four times the subjectless imperative of “kill. this. witch.” But now it’s “I’m killing this witch” (bold emphasis ours), and the “I” is so powerful perhaps because it only shows up in the first and last lines. It is this “I” of the speaker that gives frame and emotional life to a poem determined to remain factual, austere, fierce. We have to at least consider – is “I” the witch?


There is much to be said about the poem’s surface as well: the line breaks, the combination of punctuation and lack of punctuation, the grammar and syntax working hand in hand with the poem’s rhythm. This poem is super tight, and consequently, it’s a delight to read. We could point out a handful of items here as well. But we better be careful not to grow tasteless / spiritless/ soulless / kill. – the. editors.