A Review of Kisses from a Straight Razor by Todd Cirillo

After reading through Todd Cirillo’s Kisses From aStraight Razor, I realized the poems that stuck with me the most were those small moments that might pass us by if we’re not paying attention, snapshots of two people sitting quietly together, reflections of love, of solitude, the hard mornings of driving in to work when all you can picture is cold beer and sunny afternoons somewhere quiet and warm, flashpoints of life’s finer details, a camera lens focused all the way in, a poet ready for the close-up.

The poems in the book swing back and forth from these small moments to those of off-the-cuff grit, poems of declarative drunkenness or amused sexual debauchery, the author taking a grinning stab at wry humor with some of these, and if that’s your thing, they’ll work, but to me the strongest ones revert back to those more revealing poems of, dare I say, tender depictions (even when remaining delightfully crass) found when one knows someone so well for so long, laughing in bed together, or alone and dreaming of trains calling in the distance and all the places they might take you, far from the hard days that come after love ends or before new journeys begin.

“I sit in my room,


No music, no booze,

no guests.

Just me


to the air conditioner


I feel like Warren Zevon

at the end of the world.

There is no special meaning

to it.

I don’t feel older.

I don’t feel wiser.

I don’t feel tired.



my phone will light up

with messaged wishes

and I will make each one count”


      "Werewolves of New Orleans”


Again, Cirillo shines brightest when he focuses the camera in as far as it will go, revealing silent moments in a room, photographs taken in bed, the smell of her on a pillowcase, the remains of someone’s shampoo; these poems have a depth that hides behind their simplicity, and I think they offer the Cirillo more room to roam and explore the human condition, and it’s fine that these poems are islands in a sea of rapid-fire sexual triumphs drenched in stale beer and neon, because we’ve all been there too, haven’t we?

And so Cirillo offers both in heavy doses, covering the spectrum, which means no matter what your own personal preferences are, you’ll find plenty to wake up to the morning after in this strong collection.     

- review by James H Duncan 



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