Erik Fuhrer

Voyage Out Sonnet 10

Shakespeare was too introspective for breakfast and seaweed.
Current eyes seemed full of morning contrariness.
Dogs with square tipped, very clean fingers, addressed
long feet poking. The dormouse regrets the country. A spoiled
tongue clustered toward the stairs with black beetles.
Children breathed blue shadow, their eyes
the doors of music, yellow to the finger, deep
in a classical fugue over remote notes building. Absorbed
sounds drew a knock in the strip of blue
sea through the shape of fumbled fingers playing
finished sentences like a tight plait in the garden of nonsense.
Lightly dying, the stockbroker pug dog pressed
on quoting Bach. His box ears question the shut
land at a great distance. Honestly inhuman, he laughed with the dogs.

Voyage Out Sonnet 11

Eyes found rest engaged in the short sketch
of a lonely lip without words. A tear squeezed
good life out in the fresh breeze. A stranger,
amused, joined the brim of fine weather, determined
to shake the waves blue. Gun-eyes wave meditatively
about the sun sinking in softer eyelids.
In the prime of life, canaries wonder upon chimes lost
to dozing fish. Momentous gifts search questions on seagull wings.
Music destroyed the battered martyr.
Kindness determined heartbeats
shivering in an old window untouched, longing
for someone in the wires alive like water. A pause jumbled
the mammoths on the rubbish heap of the mind. The skies lost
consciousness. Two bald eyes returned the flag casting courage about pepper.

Voyage Out Sonnet 12

Potatoes roll in bed smiling in politeness. Glazed
asparagus conquered and propelled into fur
coats for comfort, tightly wedged. Feet horse
the world with old emotions, donkey
a furrow onto eyes thrown against the white inside.
The wind paled waves between stretched roaring loosened
by daylight. They dropped atoms banished like an apple
in the mind complete with teapots and loaves of bread on the borderland
of brain rising and falling like curtains pulled fast for a breath of air.
Flattened dishes smooth the hands that moved them, fattened
with sick milk and tea. A splendid aching pours
humiliating politicians onto cooked goose. Tender
in a dark room over gloweyes blasting, blown, into calm tempest,
cheeks sit on questions of sea-sickness, icebergs, and rebellion.

Voyage Out Sonnet 13

Modern life imagines beauty lurched in fright, unconcerned.
Water, fitfully calm, slid eyes over strange behavior.
Tragedy was morning in a long fur cloak
wound round on top of London forgotten
in moving branches. How horrid
the silver kiss in the shake of two backs. “Well, that’s over” said a long sentence.
Empty hearts parted the knowledge to justify
they could feel. Withered visitors, easy prey,
wished to be known, practised in the sun absorbed
by the strangeness of commonplace people, blankly talked
without any change of tone, lit up by sleep.
Lips poured the storm in. Kisses flushed with paused eyes.
Creatures bolt all night reflected by talk
that there was something strange in the way men run.

Voyage Out Sonnet 14

A mind quickly hewed the light and burst out alone, creeping
between darkness. Shock could think of no way to redden children.
Experiments were extraordinarily bad like diseased bubbles.
Canaries seem equally enthusiastic curlers. At feet,
acres became stitched to pages, intimate
with the vision of unmergeable sea profoundly living. In spite of
hands, in spite of graves, insects sensibly spend
the seaside among human beings. Stout
blue envelopes gorged with photographs
before lips puckered as thought individuates eyes
like mountains combing a solid mass of offerings. Feet
educate the ambitious kind who believe
heaven was good in an absurd way. Visions
of the moon moving trees and sliding rivers entangle with human beings.

Voyage Out Sonnet 16

Rattled out, the day increased, plaited as it ran
among purple rickety stages. A white house urgently waved
blades of earth in the cracked sun of blossom. Mobbed
heads smoothly divided ugliness, shut out olive trees.
Indecency struck the bare stone hall. Rats put down roots
with human beings who knew better than to stay.
A new reptile continued revolution. A monastery returned
from a midday walk. Fragments
of echoes reflected the dryness of souls.
The room empty tried to console the reflection of people,
the things they may be supposed to feel.
Passed away, sitting in the open sea, a dusk
figure writing flames across plaster walls and wide
against the bare floor traces outlines of several expeditions.

Erik Fuhrer is a Pushcart Prize and Best Microfictions 2018 nominee. He holds an MFA from the University of Notre Dame and his work has recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in Maudlin House, Ghost City Press, Cleaver, and Softblow. He tweets @Erikfuhrer and his website is erik-fuhrer.com.

He writes: "These poems are from a longer work titled The Voyage Out Sonnets, a page by page erasure of Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out. During the process of erasure, I moved chapter by chapter and then formed what I had into 50 experimental sonnets. Solmaz Sharif has convincingly linked poetic erasure to government censorship, which every erasure project certainly risks replicating. Woolf herself had to censor herself in her novel in order to get published. Since the intent of this project is to celebrate rather than censor, I was careful and mindful not to redact but to highlight Woolf’s words. Rather than physically blackening out words during my process, I left Woolf’s original text clean and instead circled words that I believed revealed the multiple possibilities in the original text. I highlighted language over narrative and provided agency and voice to animals and inanimate objects, which Virginia Woolf often does herself in her later work, such as "Kew Gardens.” For the most part, I did not add anything to the text, with the exception of the rare addition of an "s" at the end of a word. I also occasionally cobbled together a word from individual letters. That said, Woolf's individual language remains mostly intact and unadulterated in these poems, which intend to pay homage to Woolf's original text."
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