Issue 26 – 2015 – Rusty Morrison

Rusty Morrison


fashion statements

no new antagonisms       then the woman standing in line behind you tapping 
her expensive nails on her expensive purse       her coincidence of annoyance 

too loudly akin to your own shiny surfaces                    glass-top customized 
gel    coated    surround-sound    in    an     apartment    where    you     can’t 

make the rent               like her your limits are leaky             the afterlife is not 
a given                a dog outside running with his leash trailing behind slapping 

pavement       another noisy philosophy you don’t have time to study    even 
running a dog is still trapped in the same captivity that’s ringing in your ears 

whether   or   not  you  hear  it  on  the  fateful   afternoon when belligerently 
oppositional   societies  finally  meet  in  the  TV series and even though your

favorite character lives through it          suddenly you don’t care with the kind 
of caring that you thought would always be a comfort 

to you 

fashion statements

you  like  fashion  because  it’s  good  to  have  a  project  drape  some  fabric 
pretend each thing sewn into a shape stays separate       as if you could keep 

what’s inside any one thing from the other                   fashion says when your 
husband  rubs  an  idea off his face as if you didn’t see it that means it wasn’t 

there                 while designers shift back again to stark impact from phatic as 
the  latest  coined  coincident    you   know  to   just  keep   picking  up  every 

safety pin stray cat baby crying in  the movie you hate and still you stay until 
the end of it                 whatever you find must’ve been left for you on purpose 

yours to begin with                  is why you won’t buy a face crème’s promise to 
smooth  away your  fears of phones  ringing even  if only once when you were 

seven  it  rang  about  your  granddad dying while your mom rolled your hair in 
the  stink  of  Clairol’s  home-permanent  wave  as  you  stood  there  wanting 

something bad to happen to her at the moment she answered it           fashion 
is what you wear to exhibit that you

wished it 

fashion statements

how to catch the gaze of a lost object tempt it back     the fox stole was your 
grandmother’s               kept it for years not for the dead eyes hard little paws

but the lush auburn fur  was soft as a  glance that could  look right inside your 
every emptiness and fill you like breath             your husband’s sigh is never as

observant stealing across your bare shoulders       in films clichéd transactions 
occupy  us with foreground so  that  background  can suffuse  the dark where

we sit in a back row         where there never can be an obvious        is why you 
thought  you  could keep the fox  and  why  you’ve  lost what can’t  be  lured

back                in the photo you see your grandmother was  beautiful in the fox 
she  worked   in  a  cannery   and  her  husband   had   two   jobs   to  afford

the fashion of foreground where nothing lasts                    still you envy your 
grandmother at least she knew she could

wear it



Rusty Morrison is the author of five books, including Beyond the Chainlink (Ahsahta), After Urgency (Tupelo’s Dorset Prize), the true keeps calm biding its story (Ahsahta) which won The Sawtooth Prize, Academy of American Poet’s Laughlin Award, Northern California Book Award, DiCastagnola Award. Recent poems have appeared or will appear in A Public Space, Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, PEN Poetry Series, Talisman, The Volta, VOLT. Poems have been anthologized in the Norton Postmodern American Poetry 2 nd Edition, The Arcadia Project: Postmodern Pastoral, and Beauty is a Verb. Her essays have appeared in Kenyon Review, Pleiades, Harriet during National Poetry Month at, and elsewhere. She’s Omnidawn’s co-publisher, Her website: