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Terence Winch

Joanna Fuhrman: Pick of the Week [ed. Terence Winch]

Joanna fuhrman reading pic  web














The Poetry Reading


The mustached cowboy-hatted thrice-divorced

old-man poet famous for sleeping with flaxen-haired

(or was it flax-seed eating) quote-unquote

nubile graduate students is at the podium

reading his poem personifying a wedding dress—

how sad it is, all alone in a dusty closet, how

it longs to be laid on a funeral pyre or set ablaze

next to the replica of Plath and Hughes’ robin’s-

egg-blue Terra Cruiser gas range, or was it     

the neglected moonlit member of the old man

poet “breaking into blossom” or recoiling

from the memory of time passing faster than

the dust can settle on his brand-new Honda

Civic LX or ranch-style remodeled sunroom?

The audience is trying to remember what

ingredients they need to pick up for tomorrow’s

paella, what that email said about the time

of that meeting with Suzanne about assessment.

They are alternately trying to remember

if they remembered to order that Minecraft book

for a nephew’s 8th birthday party and worrying

if their Facebook-level “friends” notice that

their purple cat socks clash with their scuffed

burgundy clogs, and at a certain point, the poem

has gone on for so long no one can tell if

the old-man poet is still personifying that

wedding dress or if a headless wedding dress

has taken his place at the podium. We look up

from the cell phones we are hiding in our laps,

and there it stands—smoky and lacy

in front of the glowing microphone

in the corner of the basement bookstore,

104 miles from the nearest artist colony,

the flaming dress is burning like a 12-hour

candle, or like the lost poetry of an elderly

Rimbaud written on the slats of sunken ships,

and the dress itself has grown a mouth

and in the middle of its flames its lips

belt out a new poem, about fake

cowboy poets, how sad they are, how alone.


Joanna Fuhrman is an assistant teaching professor in Creative Writing at Rutgers University, and the author of six books of poetry, most recently To a New Era. Her next book, Data Mind, a collection of surreal, darkly comic prose poems about the internet, is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. After publishing with them since she was a teen, she recently became editor at Hanging Loose Press.


Lorette C. Luzajic  The Blood Jet Is Poetry---Sylvia Plath  acrylic  collage on canvas  2022                                          Lorette C. Luzajic, The Blood Jet Is Poetry---Sylvia Plath, acrylic, collage on canvas, 2022

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

Click image to order


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