“My Blue Shirt” by Gary Whited

My Blue Shirt

hangs in the closet

of this small room, collar open,

sleeves empty, tail wrinkled.


Nothing fills the shirt but air

and my faint scent. It waits,

all seven buttons undone,


button holes slack,

the soft fabric with its square white pattern,

all of it waiting for a body.


It would take any body, though it knows,

in its shirt way of knowing, only mine,

has my shape in its wrinkles,


my bend in the elbows.

Outside this room birds hunt for food,

young leaves drink in morning sunlight,


people pass on their way to breakfast.

Yet here, in this closet,

the blue shirt needs nothing,


expects nothing, knows only its shirt knowledge,

that I am now learning––

how to be private and patient,


how to be unbuttoned,

how to carry the scent of what has worn me,

and to know myself by the wrinkles.


Gary WhitedGary Whited is a poet, philosopher and psychotherapist. He grew up on the plains of eastern Montana, and a strong sense of place pervades his poems, whether that place is the prairie, the city or the inner spaces we inhabit.

His book titled, Having Listened, was selected as the winner of the 2013 Homebound Publications Poetry Contest. It has recently received a Benjamin Franklin Book Award, and one of the poems from the book has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. Having Listened offers a collection of poems that speak from the confluence of a childhood on the prairie remembered and an encounter with the haunting voice of the Greek thinker, Parmenides, echoing across 2500 years.