Weekly Feature: Poetry at The Arts Fuse

Welcome to “Poetry at The Arts Fuse.” A new poem every Thursday.


If My Mother Returns from the Dead


I will pour her a mango martini,

the orange hue of that evening’s sunset,


ask her to toast this wacky life of mine,

to look past my rhinestone-studded glasses


and into my eyes. If she looks tired, I will

cut the swan-shaped clouds from around


her neck, watch them float away from us,

like the first red afternoon after a month of rain.


If she asks how I am doing, I will show off

the view from the window, point out the flickers


of light falling on the leaves of the flowering

dogwoods. I hope she will notice how solidly


I sleep now on a mattress I bought with money

I earned from a job I didn’t think I’d ever get.


Together we will go window shopping, admire

kinetic pendants and watery scarves hovering


through the breezeways of summer afternoons.

We’ll buy matching fragments of empty sky.


I’ll know that if she returns, it’s only a visit,

so I’ll treat her like a tourist — we’ll admire


the ass of her favorite baboon at the zoo,

snap pictures of ourselves in the future:


me as a version of her, her as a version

of the person she never was quite able to be.


Before she leaves, we’ll drink coffee in a café

where the pattern of the foam mirrors the weather.


We’ll say goodbye in a park gazebo,

built just for the hour we’re there.


Joanna Fuhrman is an Assistant Teaching Professor in Creative Writing at Rutgers University and the author of seven books of poetry, including To a New Era  (Hanging Loose Press 2021) and the forthcoming book of prose poems about the internet Data Mind (Curbstone/Northwestern University Press 2024). Poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2023, The Pushcart Prize anthology, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day and The Slowdown podcast. She first published with Hanging Loose Press as a teenager and became a co-editor in 2022. This poem is from a manuscript-in-progress called The Last Phone Booth in the World. 


Note: Hey poets! We seek submissions of excellent poetry from across the length and breadth of contemporary poetics. See submission guidelines here. The arbiter of the feature is the magazine’s poetry editor, John Mulrooney.

Arts Fuse editor Bill Marx

1 Comment

  1. Kristi on November 16, 2023 at 11:01 pm

    Beautiful, Joanna (like always ; )

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