Charles Borkhuis

Dark Side of the Room

there’s another room inside this one
an anti-room with anti-matter people
sleeping or screwing on anti-matter beds

every so often someone’s elbow or foot
breaks through an invisible wall
then slips back almost unnoticed

I glimpsed one of them once
staring at me bemused
like a reflection on a dark tv screen

some say the void is not empty
it’s populated by virtual particles
that pop in for a quick bite and run

perhaps you’re unaccustomed
to the world’s indifference or phantom lovers
who annihilate each other over dinner

au contraire it gives me a certain curious comfort
to realize that I’m inhabited by beings
about whom I know virtually nothing

Gummy Head

half-turned away
from the incessant buzz of factoids
those janus-faced insects
that swarm around the whirlpool
working their books of percentages

as if reality might be conjured
from an infinity of jumbled numbers
where sound waves cancel out signals
mistaken as trivia
faint glimmers in the trash
pockets of order in chaos
chaos in order projected indefinitely
at which magnification would you like to proceed

let us start with a fact
which is indisputably the case
the rock upon which all rocks depend
kick it down the road and set the world in motion

or must we pass through the eye of a needle buried
in a cliché and if so where to place the disappeared
those nameless lives in voiceless graves
water over stones mumbling to loved ones
left to wonder where exactly is gone

as if a bored creator might leave
a little gummy head on a stick and walk away
to play dice in another trending universe
as if to say one is left to pick up sticks
that cross and separate by chance
or interpret leaves at the bottom of a tea cup
and play through these migratory moments

Truth Game

the same room but different now
the mirror’s slight mockery of all that is
turn a millimeter away and a change of mood
spreads across the sofa and table
a series of words bubble up the curving stem
of a standing lamp
these could be anyone’s thoughts
moving from mind to mind
chair to chair

one creates an image
an idea of oneself that demands to be fed
so you may bluff your life away
waiting for the real deal
the card that may reveal you
for who you are or not

the truth
don’t mention it
in so many words
that which withdraws from the slightest observation
and splits into possible selves
so one is captured
by the magnetic draw of uncertainty
the nuanced realm of multiple lives

until all possible positions collapse
and you are called upon to act
to break the mirror’s hold
and step through your image
a simple yes or no will do

so a parallel world is created
in which you may be asked
to put your life on the line
facts break down still further
but that is not for us
now you get to play the game

Further Instructions

let’s say a body falls
head first into wave upon wave
of roiling voices a harsh hello here
a sweet goodbye there
it all gets tangled in the gurgle and foam
so many swarming targets
searching for the right arrow

each to his own amateurish speculations
reincarnation placed upon a shelf
next to a can of pork and beans
a logbook of meaningful coincidences
leans against a jar of rusty keys
which door to what metaphor

no need to panic
most ideas only go so far
then someone blows a whistle
and you pick yourself up off the ground
maybe we’re not made to get
to the heart of the matter
maybe nothing sticks around that long

might as well catch the next wave
of fluttering digressions and half-baked ideas
and listen closely for a secret echolalia in the banter
close but never close enough
to hear light’s squiggles turn to matter
yet it happens while we were thinking
of something else

it’s no secret that words were
watching us from a distance
waiting to switch narratives or bite

maybe it’s unavoidable that we must stand
for something we don’t understand
and act upon it with our lives

no matter just place your ear
near the static in the wind tunnel
and await further instructions


tell me if I’m getting
too personal
but looking into your eyes
makes me wonder

where you keep
your longing
I mean is there a road
you’d like to take

is it on a map
of brooklyn or maybe
in a black box
pulled up from the sea

will I need a key to open it
is it like a hand left
on a pillow
have the fingers fallen asleep

will it spill
over and fill the room
or is it a nothing
kind of thing

that’s everywhere
and nowhere
and will I know it
when I see it

Place Holder

they told us that as density increases
space shrinks inside the number
and at the zero point
the equation breaks down and weeps

they told us half of infinity is still infinity
and that illumination slips through
chips in the armor and words
are filled with oceans of empty space

they said that the largest licks the spiral ear
of the smallest and folds in upon itself
they told us to watch how leaves cluster
in open parentheses and then just blow away

they told us that numbers were hooks
in the clouds and that a poet must zero forth
to thread the eye through an ear
and learn to wing it outward on a word

they said that the foot lies in the leap
across death’s gummy shoe
and that infinity guarantees repetition
but our return will be unrecognizable to us

Charles Borkhuis is a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and essayist. His nine collections of poems include: Dead Ringer [BlazeVOX], Finely Tuned Static (with paintings by John McCluskey) [Lunar Chandelier], Disappearing Acts [Chax], Afterimage [Chax], and Alpha Ruins [Bucknell University], selected by Fanny Howe as a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Book Award. His poems have appeared in eight anthologies including: Resist Much, Obey Little [Spuyten Duyvil], Dia Anthology [Dia Art Foundation], An Avec Sampler #2 [Avec], Primary Trouble [Talisman House], and Writing From The New Coast: Presentation and Technique [o.blek]. His essays on contemporary poetics have appeared in Telling it Slant and We Who Love to Be Astonished (University of Alabama Press). He translated New Exercises from the French by Franck André Jamme [Wave]. His plays have been presented in NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hartford, and Paris and published in Mouth of Shadows [Spuyten Duyvil], The Sound of Fear Clapping [Obscure Press], Present Tense [Stage This 3], and Poets’ Theater [Ailanthus]. His radio plays The Sound of Fear Clapping and Foreign Bodies were produced on NPR and can be heard at pennsound. He is the recipient of a Dramalogue Award and the former editor of Theater:Ex, an experimental theater publication. He lives in New York City.

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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.