I’d like to order another November
instead of you. There’s some rain
in my shoes and it’s flooding this
poem, turning all the gutters into
used-up guts. A fireman with an ancient
harpoon wanders the parallelograms
of Virgil’s internet looking to be liked.
Is there anything less lyric than
a woman in orthopedic shoes, arguing
with the bus driver about expired
transfer tickets? We had wanted to
measure the starlight directly, but
ended up needing our tongues, which
had been replaced with metal depressors
and expanding space. Other Novembers
have comelier edges. Their insides
are kind like a pudding-filled cake.
If you want to kiss them, take off
your hair and wiggle your lips
at the red leaf abyss. I tell each door
I meet to open, and magically they do,
when I push them and dangle my nosegay
in their burgeoning allergy territory.
Is that a fish jumping from the ocean
on your face? Is your memory pixilated
by longing or loss? We salvaged fragments
of radish-motif wallpaper to hide in our
pockets for when the nostalgia police
arrive to ask us for youth. It’s possible
Tom Hanks’s beard holds an oracle that
knows why your boyfriend would give
you a dead fern for your birthday instead
of a yacht. It’s possible music is glass
we forgot to look through. In another
picture, Sigmund Freud cries over
a lake-filled ironing board, or is that
the toddler Picasso in eye glasses and facial
hair make up? Everything we knew is less
than we know. An elephant places his trunk
in his mouth to mimic some words in Korean.
He’s using language as a social function,
not to communicate. When we sleep,
the blue mountain lowers its head to enter
the multistory houseboat with its giant
rocking rooms. Wink now if you believe me
and breathe in the cloud karate, sucker.
I like to defriend people. What about you?
Joanna Fuhrman is the author of five collections of poetry, including Ugh Ugh Ocean (Hanging Loose Press 2003) and Pageant (Alice James Books 2009). She teaches poetry at Rutgers University, in public schools and in private workshops. She has worked at the Poetry Project at Saint Mark’s Church as a workshop leader and reading series coordinator For several years, she has been collaborating with the artist Toni Simon on a multimedia project combining poetry, sculpture and photography. The poems in The Year of Yellow Butterflies combine elements of surrealism and wry humor as well as riffs on autobiography, science fiction and unhinged nostalgia. Fuhrman explores the relationship between the mind and the body and playfully examines how gender, technology, capitalism and culture affect this relationship.