The Ruler of Rusted Knees
|You were the king of all the abandoned bathtubs
and I was the king of air/space/ time/ questions
unlucky fuzzy key chains and speech.
Were you jealous?
Um, sorry (?)
I was never / actually kidding.
In the beginning, we made birds chirps translated into the language of broken chairs.
No one exactly understood us, so they called us wise.
This was before the bloody fedoras,
before the arrival of floating leaf territory.
Try to balance
like an idea,
like a balanced
of balance like
on another idea,
on many ideas
Back then—you were
the ruler of plastic wrap,
lost words and
I was the ruler
In the beginning, we didn’t need to be friends with all the parts of ourselves.
It was enough to listen to the wind tear the world to pieces.
Later, the wind swallowed parts of ourselves we had no name for
but missed terribly.
We had happened in many
Like the taste of teeth
space around a loose flag.
You can be the king
If you whispered to the light,
say you were
its flashing was a product
In our mixed-media literary project, Egyptian gods, stripped of their context and role, wander various New York City neighborhoods trying to figure out where they belong, how to make sense of what they have lost, and how to get along with one another.
In the first step of our project, Toni Simon constructs three-dimensional, small-scale figurines out of paper, modeled on Egyptian gods. She then paints them with abstract, graphic details. We then take the little gods out into different neighborhoods and take hundreds of photographs of them. We select eight to ten images, which become the basis for a series of poems written by Joanna Fuhrman.
So far, we have created picture/poem serial combinations in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Chinatown, the Reversible Destiny Studio, Red Hook and Gowanus (featured here). Parts of the project have appeared online in paperbag and Talisman and in print in the 100th issue of Hanging Loose.
Joanna Fuhrman is the author of four books of poetry, most recently “Pageant” (Alice James Books 2009) and “Moraine” (Hanging Loose Press 2006), as well as the chapbook “The Emotive Function” (Least Weasel Press 2011). She teaches poetry writing at Rutgers University and through Teachers & Writers Collaborative. Other sections of her project with Toni appear online at paperbag and Tailsman and in print in the journal Hanging Loose. For more see: Joannafuhrman.com