Self-Portrait With An Open Skull

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 The American Journal of Poetry, Beloit Poetry Journal, Pleiades, Spillway, The Journal, THRUSH, Gulf Coast, CutBank, Frontier, and elsewhere.

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Self-Portrait With An Open Skull 

How cold this room, how baby blue

the sheets as I shiver myself to sleep.

I want to remember

what it was like: face-down:

scalpels, forceps, hands

intruding on a dream,

saws, clamps, breaking in

to the bone white theatre.

A hole in me, how cold

the clamp, how taut the skin.

Sing, sing bone-saw, open

the passage my thoughts walk,

the frosted back-alleys

of the brain, the seedy

side-streets with plastic bag

tumbleweeds, an anesthesia dream.

Godly cinematographer,

get that dolly shot

in the subway, show a rat

trekking a slice of pizza down

the tracks. This is where

one goes when the lights go

out, when sterile gloves tread

deep in the soul, this is where

the metronome of the mind is.

Then a waking, soft and slow

like walking in the corridor 

between two lives. The lights dim.

A projector flickers and I see how

the bone saw let the light pour in—

sawdust, stardust, thought rust.

I see the surgeon’s hands

and the paper moth

which he pulls from my skull.

This poem was originally published in Radar Magazine

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 The American Journal of
Poetry, Beloit Poetry Journal, Pleiades, Spillway, The Journal, THRUSH,
Gulf Coast, CutBank, Frontier, and elsewhere.

He can be reached at

Instagram handle is @borruso.ant and my Twitter is

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