Tony Magistrale

Tony Magistrale is Professor of English at the University of Vermont. He is the author of three books of poetry: What She Says About Love (Bordighera Press 2008), The Last Soldiers of Love (Literary Laundry 2012), and the most recently published Entanglements (Fomite 2013).  His poems have also appeared in The Harvard Review, Spillway, Green Mountains Review, Slipstream, and Alaska Quarterly Review, among other places.



Strip Club


Flesh is but part of what we desire,

wandering among fellow husbands and lonely hearts

in search of less hostile company

to simulate the girlfriend experience

purchased for forty minutes, time on a meter.


I know the fact that I find

so little offense in how we’ve spent the past hour

is enough for some to feel seriously offended:

admiring innocuously variable parts of the female anatomy,

the genuine athleticism that enables

a brilliant landing from atop heavily greased pole

wearing seven-inch stiletto platform soles.


But why must there remain

such secrecy?  Omerta! my friend keeps telling me

sotto voce, like we’re planning to rob the till

or kidnap one of the girls.


You can almost taste the fecund smell of this place

as I sip my twenty-dollar beer

and notice my buddy has disappeared

behind a black curtain in the back,

while into his emptied seat slides this buttery soft blonde,

a pastel Renoir nude, fifteen pounds overweight,

her right hand’s red nail extensions

digging into my thigh, as she whispers into my ear,

Don’t get too comfortable, dear.



Before This Was My Book


Purchased at a local yard sale

for two dollars, it belonged to someone

else, a young woman I would surmise


who left small feminine pencil notes in the margins

and underscored lines from her favorite poems

meant to be read by a man she loved


but felt compelled to leave.  There’s no

explanation for why their love had to be aborted,

only images already receding into memory—


I will remember the morning light . . .

Getting dressed for you before our meeting . . .

The smell of sex, your fingers entwined in my hair . . .


How can I ever hope to make this book

my own after she has evoked language

so intimate to these two alone?


Perhaps I need rather to adopt

the more cynical attitude of her lover,

who must certainly have understood


the importance of these words from his mistress,

yet ended up abandoning them anyway—

which is I suppose the fate of most books


and many love affairs—gleefully

opened, explored—and then discarded

to await the fresh caress of some stranger’s hands.

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