Joanna Fuhrman

Loud Party with Red Dice

My eyes were bumping off
every hip and mouth.

I slipped, tasting salt
on a clear man’s knee. 

            I couldn’t find my own hands.           

I said this over and over
           to anyone who would listen.

There was no one around to listen.

The escalator filled with rain.

All the birds
sounded exactly the same.

Tweet Tweet,
like a child’s idea of a bird song.

Champagne flutes waited for us.

The closet had another
smaller closet inside:

an old quilt covered 
broken tambourines.

What were             you I me one he she 
they you it them              

trying to say or             trying to not say?

Okay, yeah,

there is always some more
appropriate     moment to talk. 




The Letter

You asked me to write you a letter for tenure.
I handed over a fossilized pear.

Better than words, I thought

until you left the conference room,
inchoate bunny rabbits falling from your eyes.

As in most meetings, I was eating
a marshmallow shaped like myself

which meant time was a little slower
and space, a little bigger than you’d think.

I knew I needed to start over.

Something had gone wrong
when we started calling our

undulating nexus of winding ideations
and spastic limbs an “institution”

instead of a school, but what else
could we say after the donors replaced

the windows with reproduction X-rays
of their children’s rebooted brains.

I should have known the pear
would fall to ash if touched.

I should have known the pear
was too beautiful to be a symbol

or argument for anything but
itself, its own dry peariness.

All afternoon the committee
circled the black fruit, gossiping.

I wanted them to embrace its bare
fragility, its dry delicate matter.

I wanted them to see the pear’s darkness,
not just with their bulging eyes,

(those gooey telescopes of goggley light)

but with every atom, every mercurial
cell of their alien and ailing flesh.




A History of Love

The day the waltz was discovered, shutters opened
on a garden; the elm’s adagio defined the firmament.
We limboed our way beneath a flickering horizon,
sambaed circles above cobblestones, bopped until
our feet were thick as gems. Did you know we shimmed

in moonlight? Our soft shoe action paintings illustrated
forgotten jazz, unfurling in wet-grass.  Somewhere a rumor
startled us: a furtive bossa nova said to be hidden away,
lost beneath the neon hokey-pokey, or sleeping,
folded in the willow’s ballet, in its thin torn leaves.

Did you know we threw nets around the swinging
daffodils, tried to lasso the two-stepping tulips? I’d be
almost myself, a buck-and-wing beside a crocus jig,
an awkward bunny hug.  Cloud fragments swirled
while the sun, a flapping apron, polkaed, its branches ablaze.

The day the waltz was unleased, we congaed words,
jubing rivers, slippery low tangos, stammering voltas.
Our eyelashes jitterbugged, our fingers rumbaed, multi-
colored as twisting wires, our bellies cha-chaed and trotted.
Knees shook the Charleston, falling together then apart.



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