Leave the Room to Itself cover photo
  • Series: Sawtooth 2003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-916272-77-7
  • ISBN-10: 0-916272-77-X
  • Pages: 75
  • Size: 6 x 8 x .25 in
  • Price: $12.95

Leave the Room to Itself

Graham Foust

Winner of the 2003 Sawtooth Poetry Prize

In Graham Foust’s poems, philosophy and pharmaceuticals gone lyric go shopping—and come home familiarly anonymous, hungry, and in love. Sports arenas, music television, home improvement, cosmetic surgery, weapons of mass destruction, and endless trips to the store—and many other items on America’s long and constant list of perks, pitfalls, and talking points—are all scrutinized and celebrated by the voices that haunt and own this book. At once playful and poker-faced, a cast of entirely plausible and altogether impossible versifiers both honors and mocks their (and our) various states of affairs. Here, politics and aesthetics invade each other’s circuses, and they admit—slyly, sheepishly, or sometimes with a sonic boom, that they were always already each other anyway.

“There are many ways to hear ‘it takes off the top of my head.’ For me, the most important way to hear it is: it makes me suddenly and oddly aware that I am alive—aware that I am simultaneously at the end and the beginning of my power, which is simply to be there and to say so. Foust’s poems do this for me: I feel akin to the mute struggler that lurks all around these poems—that eludes so many attempts at saying that and where and how he is. The struggle is, in my view, dignified—never self-congratulatory, never self-pitying—and it has produced sounds for us to come back to —sounds for us to set out from.” —Joe Wenderoth, judge of the 2003 Sawtooth Poetry Prize



Leave the room
to itself. Compare it
to a sleeping,
living creature.
Time is the dark-
packed house
of this place,
the luck of the desert
into the floor of the desert.
is ready.
A light burns
wherever necessary.
Like skin,
like a prison,
each thought’s
an instant ruin.
Leave the room to itself
Here’s a needle. Here is the sea.


Copyright © 2003 by Graham Foust

Graham Foust author photoGraham Foust was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. With degrees from Beloit College, George Mason University, and the University at Buffalo, he teaches now at Denver University.