The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2012

All Issues
OCT 2012 Issue

Two Poems

Ground Plans for a New Theater

The audience is given blindfolds. Inside each blindfold is a picture
of a happy family sitting on a yellow couch under a sign that reads

On the other side of each blindfold, the surface reflects: a bendable
mirror only the actors will see.


Behind the set of the boho-chic kitchen, with its teal walls, raw
beams and patinaed copper piping, is another set: a different

If the audience leaves, the back wall opens to reveal: peeling
mustard-color enamel sinks, authentic Brooklyn cockroaches,
toaster ovens bursting with crumbs, and an actor asleep
(dreaming?) in a foldable chair.


The main dining room of the Love Boat has been recreated with
almost perfect verisimilitude.

The only difference is the actresses’ breasts, which are not made of
the original silicone, but constructed of flesh itself, which will
(should) pulsate when (if) an actress chooses to breathe.



New Eyes for the New Year


The eyes on a face have brought me sadness:
the right eye searching for seams in ripped fishnets;
the left eye lost and wandering the dark; the eye
of the baby god crawling behind a couch in the moist
suburb where we planned our escape from video games
and grilled cheese; the eye of a whale we met in a dream
who spit us out so we could make the 8 o’clock screening
of On Golden Pond; the eye of the clock, blinking
when the oboe wailed like a burning shofar; the eye
inside the eye, curled up—a sprouting lima bean,
remembering the nineteenth century, those rosy drapes;
the eyes of missing finger tips, of sad afternoons
in French cafés in Dayton, Ohio; the eyes on the very
real parrot who sits on the shoulders of a wax actor
dressed as a pirate; the eyes of an actress, pretending
to be my mom; the eyes of my father, sleeping on a train,
dreaming about miniature crashing planes; the eyes
of a swimming pool, looking up or down everyone’s
swimsuits and into their souls; the eyes in love
songs written by mean men; the eyes in the painting,
lost in a fire where we tried to save the ancient cat;
the eyes underneath tap shoes clicking like teeth;
the eyes of Fred Astaire, never blinking, even to kiss
in the dark; the eyes of the state of Texas secretly
tattooed on everyone’s ass, and the eyes on the billboard,
ripped and faded from rain like the eyes of the best waitress
on the Upper West Side who knows everyone’s order,
even those of customers she’s never met. Can you hear
the eyes under my eyes? They steal other people’s dreams
to use them for ad copy. Here are the eyes of a man
who’d be my husband if he hadn’t married my twin,
and there are the eyes of the judge who divorced them,
blue as the sky. I forgot the eye color of the first man
I loved—what color was my hat when we cried in the snow?
The whites of everyone’s eyes swirl together in silent music.
Nothing like the closed eyes of a flamenco dancer, eating
a dripping hamburger by the highway. Instead it is the right
eye of a teacher when she touches her student; the eyes
inside of my mouth and the eyes outside of your mouth;
the eyes of the writer and reader, a broken vase and a whole
petal; the eyes on what you thought of as a cunt and the eyes
on what I thought of as a cock; the small eyes on the open book
and the bigger eyes of the closed book; the eyes I swallow
when we talk, and the eyes that fly above us in sleep.


Joanna Fuhrman

JOANNA FUHRMAN is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Pageant (Alice James Books 2009) and can be found at


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2012

All Issues