Joanna Fuhrman


Fountain Moraine

I wear an advertisement for my best self
across my chest, a gold tuba wails against
the whimwham of the moon, a reunited table
and chair pull out a strand of hair, fresh
as the string of a butterfly. Glorious cinemas
entertain the prefight roosters, fragrant leaves
hiding the smell of humbugging elixirs, blossoming
trash cans trashing the piazza, a spirit of a new
ideal flying beyond our heads, the yearning
parade growing rudimentary leaves, heliotropic,
corporeal, sideways as a love letter or the after-
effects of a fistfight in a movie, open loonytoon
automatic time/space charade as if a photograph
of a naked gun is more opaque than the waning
firetruck growling through the freed slave district.
It is not a sign (a mark of dissolve) but a nowhere.

Our nowhere. Against stillness and chaos.

The nowhere of a photograph of a star.

The quiet of a shoelace. The beginning of an old stillness.

Not unlike a paper tear glued to a cheek.

Not unlike a beach

where we sit and imagine ourselves

as ourselves. Not unlike a newspaper

swallowed by a pink-tinted whale.

No. Yes. No. The crackling.

The crackling of serious stars.

I sobbed and was unsold or so I claimed.
The reasons were fraught with do-little bells,
isolated frequencies, benign widgets and monthly
visits to the ontology doctor who would watch me
in my sleep, and whisper the details of crumpled
post-it notes in my ear.
There was an intimacy to this,
his warnings balanced beside
my blushing cheek, the promise
of shared truth rubbed
on my chest, thick as oil.

Before Thinking Moraine

It was the idea of thinking
more than any particular thought
that drew me to the empty room.

An awkward greenness hung over everything those days.

Two spiders alternated


All the water glasses line up.

This means I am an art student and a classmate is telling me about a forgotten ancient
Asian language in which the words for colors are named for rocks.

There are an infinite variety of rock types, so each shade of color has its own distinct
name: indisputable, known, clear.

Misunderstanding can never occur because each color word meaning is exact.

Hearing this story, I feel an almost religious rush: my mind contracts and expands.

Later, the other student finds the original genera of rocks and carves them into a
series of identically shaped roses. Under each flower, she makes a sign with a
translation of its forgotten name.

I try to take the markers down.


I can't hear the edges slipping,

can't say where the ocean

might end and filled thimble begin.

If there is a "meaning" in the area,

I feel oddly despondent as if only I should understand

the subtext of each seltzer bubble in the glass.

True glory?
Damn sunrise--

Partial Escapist Moraine
(For Noelle)

Let's pretend we're on a trip.
Rip out the moldy sky,
package our emotions into even intervals
so the jury will have no doubt about our business
acumen. No need to send another secret greeting
to the corporate Santa or an industrial fruitcake
to the temp. agency. Don't worry about our poetry lessons.
They'll be kept private; our pronouncements
wrapped in the silk of the president's stolen panties, a pack
of intellectual wolves steering the boat
through the afternoon's amusement ride, your husband,
that sweet animal, no longer trapped under death's shield.

You, no longer sad.


I am sorry I can't help you today.
I should be ashamed. You know
I pray to my atheist god to make me ashamed, to be a train,
to take you away, a joy train,
unashamed, light
as the train
that separates the sun's cells
as they gleam
the lights in your name more awake
than this death conglomerate was ever asleep.


moraine (noun):

A mound, ridge or ground covering of unsorted debris, deposited by the melting away of a glacier.

- Geology Dictionary

Joanna Fuhrman is the author of two books of poetry published by Hanging Loose Press: Freud in Brooklyn (2000) and Ugh Ugh Ocean (2003). Her third book Moraine is forthcoming in 2006. New poems can be found in forthcoming issues of Court Green, American Letters and Commentary and New York Quarterly. She lives in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.