The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2020

All Issues
SEPT 2020 Issue


The Future is a Bathtub Filled with Pure Rage

After the warnings are subtweeted as jokes// after the quizzes shrivel up // after the factory rips off its wings// after a multiverse is found in a barbie’s missing asshole// after I wake up to an ocean on fire// after I unplug the moment// after you soak up the sound// absorb the fear in the petunia// after we sweep up the squawking//rejigger the excess//after the wedding of misanthropes and mist//after the yelling rehearsal//after we fall out of bed //after the truth bomb is unbombed //after you right-click the call out//after you uninstall the update// after I left-click the catastrophe//unpack the paranormal//after the pause// before the yell//after the lavender-scented tremors and the sound of something not wind

only then can we be part-god/part-meme, only then can we navigate the soft spots we desire, can we unzip the narrative—

Friend-enemy-follower-wizened pronouncer- dust influencer-baby ghost, just wait— one day we’ll float above the neighbor’s clackety-clack, smash language against tundra into smoke

The Future Leaks Into the Past

You’ve memorized all the words that rhyme with cacophony, but still you can’t revise the writing on the wallflower.

That’s capitalism my friend, decked-out again in a gold mankini, big toe stuck trapezoidally in another country’s cottage fries.

Hold still and let the 20th century sink in besides you.

Check a box if:

   □ A) The weather portends the possibility of soup.

   □ B) All the charm wore off when they put the river in a tourniquet.

   □ C) To say ‘The lioness is in waiting’ is just another way of saying you’ve lost.

   □ D) All or none of the above.

Big Data is the Unacknowledged Legislator of the World

There’s a reason there are no windows in this house like there’s a reason the metadata smells like menstrual blood. When the android escapes, we realize we were born prototypes, precursors to a body more able to survive plague. When our organs return to us (the wandering liver, the shrinking heart, the wayward esophagus) we feel thankful to be able to sleep again, grateful for the dream of an iceberg, its melting core a map of who we were.

My American Name is Money

A ghost wears a white sheet for Halloween, haunts the body of the dismantled university and writes a thesis about how to humiliate women who try to swim over the narrow waves. In the hallway, soldiers shaped like statues photocopy pictures of a scholar’s missing torso. The faculty bathroom overflows with grad student tears. I would like to tell you that this poem is a water gun shooting truth into the eyes of the oblivious chancellors, that language is a net ready to catch the falling bodies of uninsured adjuncts, but I know that didacticism is the enemy of poetry, so instead I offer you a blank stare. No, it’s more of a gaseous cloud, loose molecules disguised as a body of prose.


Joanna Fuhrman

Joanna Fuhrman is the author of five books of poetry. Her 6th book To a New Era is forthcoming in 2021. These are from a project called Data Mind.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2020

All Issues