Joanna Fuhrman

The Last Phonebooth
May 24, 2024 Fuhrman Joanna

The Last Phone Booth


The last phone booth on the planet smells
of fish sticks and lavender bug spray.


Some days I discover it inside my closet
behind the silk pants I inherited from my mother.


Other days it’s at the back of the work fridge.
Once the phone booth appeared in our bed,


perfectly lodged in the space between my husband
and me. We both entered the dark interior and when


we left, I finally understood why my husband
was afraid of grackles, and he finally understood


why I had never wanted kids. There are rumors
of the phone booth driving a red convertible


along beachside highways or hovering in the line
for newly released iStilettos. Some say you can


get the phone booth to appear if you put a dollar
in the Skee-Ball machine at Bezz’s, and that if you


glimpse your reflection in the glass, you have spent
too long meditating. I’ve heard of a rabbi who tried


to use the phone booth to host bar mitzvahs.
If you look closely at the window in the ad


for erectile disfunction pills, you can spot the edge
of the phone booth strolling towards a distant smiley face.


One afternoon in a moment of self-hatred and rage,
I shoved a whole year of my life into the phone booth.


When, decades later, I found that year, I felt
ashamed of how little about it had changed.

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 Data Mind (Curbstone/Northwestern University Press, 2024). Fuhrman’s 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.