In Cities, Be Alert

By Annie Finch b. 1956 Annie Finch
You may hear that your heartbeat is uneven
and let new tension climb around your shoulders,
thinking you've found the trick for going mad.
But try to keep a grip on where you are.

Remember: all around you is pure city;
try to stay alert. On the wide streets,
so empty late at night, streaking in glass,
the color of an alley, or the fall

of a sideways flicker from a neon sign
may utterly and briefly disconcert you—
but as you go, you'll find that noise is worse.
Prepare for noise. But never scream. Even tensing

ears too far in advance can sharpen sirens,
and as for horns. ... When you're back to
your normal rhythm after such encounters,

just try to stay alert. You'll never know
exactly who is coming up behind you,
but the sudden movement of pedestrians
will finally, of course, be what disarms you.

Reprinted with permission of the author and Story Line Press.

Source: Eve (Story Line Press, 1997)

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Poet Annie Finch b. 1956

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Activities, Travels & Journeys

Poetic Terms Blank Verse

 Annie  Finch

Biography

Annie Finch is the author or editor of more than twenty books of poetry, plays, translation, literary essays, textbooks, and anthologies, including the poetry collections Eve (1997), Calendars (2003), and Spells: New and Selected Poems (2012), and the long poems The Encyclopedia of Scotland (1982) and Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams (2009). Calendars was shortlisted for the Foreword Poetry Book of the Year . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Activities, Travels & Journeys

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Blank Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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