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Anthony Borruso


An Eye to the Keyhole 


We have made it far as a species. Yes, some teens are tasting Tide pods. And sure, Ayn Rand deigned to collect social security, but I don’t blame her for shuttling to work each day on our collective asphalt just like I don’t blame myself for being so loose—my promiscuity merely a means of accumulating data: each orgasm, each thrust performed in indifference to chart seismic eroticism on an XY plot. My little window of experience like a lantern brightening the krill-swelled belly of a whale. I, too, have been accused of hypocrisy, of wielding love like a lance and lacking objectivity. They tell me not to breathe the commodified air. They urge me to check out of Squaresville and ride my motorbike right into the sky. If only I were a belt buckle, or a fishing hook, or Saturn’s icy clasp, I might be able to hold something up or close something off. Shrug on, Atlas, I know these words aren’t mine, but you can still follow their crumb trail into the witch’s oven. You can enjoy this poem like contraception with always a millimeter between writer and reader. And don’t the aliens have telescopes? I wonder if they pity the price we pay for insulin. Or are they just voyeurs, laundering the thirst that throbs in their own latex hearts? 




You’d be surprised how often 

the seemingly silly stumble

upon pith. How a slip

of the tongue can leave you

copying lamps by poem light

or gracing the party with your

pheasants. No one need know


the party is in the basement

and meant to celebrate the crumb-

legged legacies we manage 

to pull from our bedheads. He said, 

if there’s a fork in the road, take it. 

So here I am, hungry and ready


to shovel in fuel like the coal-stained

men who wield their brawn

at the back of the train, whispering

bawdy jokes to one another, beckoning

the fat lady sing their shift to 

a close so they can contemplate— 

the ballgame, crickets, quiet— 

anything, just anything.


Tilda Swinton


it is your body     I see powdered in 

sleep     lithe and long and almost 

saintly in its stillness    in this glass 

box in Serpentine Gallery     an 

exhibition     an object un-object-

ifiable     I follow the thin bridge 

of your nose down to indifferent 

lips and     a self-protective crook

of the arm above your mom-jeaned

hips     can we talk about Kevin      


devil-spawn and beige awnings     life  

with its steady whimpering of wonder     

remember when you beamed down 

androgynous     mystic     thieving glances     

all Ziggy Stardust foreign lust and spooling loose     

from the borders of yourself     remember 

when they Woolfed you from noble-

man to wayward wench     as they tried

to fence a frame around your arthouse 

body     your angelic ravishments most 


surely shorn from sky     that’s why 

I’m struck by your skewed sense 

the way you twist     your arms and contort 

all grace from your neck    make me vivid 

as dust tangled in spotlight    tune me 

so a song gleams from the eyes that trespass

over my flesh teach me to collaborate 

with lingering spirits     heron-like     

white     in an unruly river

Ode to Bad Movies 


One shouldn’t laugh too hard or else suffer

a pang of guilt. They tried.

The make-up artist applied 

her limited palette with grace; 

there was a script, a set, a face 

worn weary in the final scene—

It’s hard to know when you’re crafting a clunker.

Blockbusters flop—

Ben and J-lo drop Gigli

Think John Wayne in Fu Manchu 

as Genghis Khan. Think Kevin Costner 

on post-apocalyptic Jet Ski 

or high-heeled Halle Barrie

licking leather paws. We can’t 

all be Kubricks, Coppolas, so at least

make your misfires ambitious. Dress 

winter as summer snow, go            

Tommy Wiseau, or full-on Ed Wood

hanging a hubcap from a fishing line

as a low-def flying saucer. Woeful

is hard work. Sometimes the kino eye

has a sty, but where is your heart

letting lines lie on the cutting room floor?


Against Solipsism 


I always wanted to be alone, 

               a dark dot on a white page. 

Noiseless, sexless, I kept 

               kisses on the threshold 

of my lips. I was a birch branch 

               teetering in wind. Then 

winter came to crust 

               the streets. Trees slouched. 

The sun turned peach. 

               Slate faced strangers 

passed me, smiling, frowning, 

               wearing whatever expression 

I imposed on them. 

               Like a dusting of snow 

swallowed by a blizzard, 

               that’s the taste

of realization: all this white 

               connects us. Silence 

clings to the world: 

               a boy lying on a field 

of dried husks, 

               the hound dripping rabbit’s blood

in the spruce’s understory, 

               one cloud smeared 

on an unspeakable sky.

Anthony Borruso is pursuing his Ph.D. in Creative Writing at Florida State University where he is a Poetry Editor for Southeast Review and co-host of the Jerome Stern Reading Series. He has been a Pushcart Prize nominee and was selected as a finalist for Beloit Poetry Journal's Adrienne Rich Award by Natasha Trethewey. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Beloit Poetry Journal, Pleiades, Spillway, The Journal, THRUSH, Gulf Coast, CutBank, Frontier, and elsewhere.

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