A woman builds a house out of birds’ cries and cries
all the time within it. The man she had wanted says,

“I am looking for a woman who is crying, but can’t
tell if anyone is crying inside that house’s outer

crying.” So she builds another house; this time, tears
for bricks, and cries as loud as she can within it.

Still he can’t hear her because the house’s
rectangular tears are too dazzlingly beautiful

to hear within. At this point, they both should be
laughing. The ceiling is neither of their mouths,

but full of teeth. The sky above: a chicken,
fresh out of a fake swamp, opening its eyes

and flashing its resplendent wings.


They called this coincidence
“summer” and continued
on their merry way.

She, like a man,
invisible when
opening a checkbook.

He, like a woman,
invisible when taking
off his clothes.

They both envied
text, only invisible
when someone

would claim it was
“poetry” like
a photograph,

only invisible
when said to be


All walls lie.

Say somewhere an ocean is empty of leaves.

Say somewhere our dance is inside the roof’s burnt-down need.

The red shoe calls out to be danced in.

The potato calls out to be held like a doll.

The house calls out to be as empty as poetry

And say, yes, ma’am, I am empty as poetry.”

And say, “yes, sir, I am the soft spot on the back of a scar.”

Somewhere a harpsichord is weeping.

Somewhere someone can hear a harpsichord weeping.

Somewhere someone can hear a harpsichord weeping and tell us what
          the weeping is for.

A man holds a stethoscope to a woman’s closed mouth.

A man holds a tongue out to another man’s car.

This is just stereotype.

Those ideas:

a woman a woman a woman a woman a woman a man.


“Let’s say all poems are a Band-Aid on the word.
Let’s say a house is a poem that doesn’t know it

once died. Then to be a woman is exactly like being
a man, but to be a man is unlike anything a woman

might possibly be.”

This was the song of the house on the brink of the room’s
smallest eye hat cursed two belted felt smile, two knocked up
ideas, a prickly tremble inside a self made of nothing but noise,
while room temperature barbecue butterfly shenanigans drip.

© 2006 Joanna Fuhrman. By permission of Hanging Loose Press.

of November. It strips off the rest
of the leaves, reminds trees
how to shiver. I think to Earth
it looks like the first first rain, the water
of the beginning, swirling down hot
into gassy soup. The bubbling stuff
that imagined trees to begin with, and also
mountains, kangaroos, dolphin cartilage,
stoplights. And you, tearing down
hills on Arnold street, a blur
of training wheels and streamers. And me
in the ’80s, crunching Life cereal on the couch
beside my night-owl mother, blue in the light
of David Letterman’s grin.

Try to remember, everything that is solid
is not solid. But slowly, always melting. The road
cracks, wrinkles like a folded map. Huge trees
lie down, throb into pulp inside termites.
And the ground drinks you,
though you grow, a tall drink of water,
going down easy. It swallows me faster
and faster. But don’t worry. Look at
our neighbor’s roof—those fake gray shingles
are crumbling, growing a thick pelt
of moss. Eventually
we all wake up as forest.

Copyright © 2016 Jeffrey Bean. This poem originally appeared in The Missouri Review. Used with permission of the author.