How Evolution Came to Indiana

By Philip Appleman b. 1926 Philip Appleman
In Indianapolis they drive
five hundred miles and end up
where they started: survival
of the fittest. In the swamps
of Auburn and Elkhart,
in the jungles of South Bend,
one-cylinder chain-driven runabouts fall   
to air-cooled V-4’s, a-speed gearboxes,   
16-horse flat-twin midships engines—
carcasses left behind
by monobloc motors, electric starters,   
3-speed gears, six cylinders, 2-chain drive,   
overhead cams, supercharged
to 88 miles an hour in second gear, the age   
of Leviathan ...
    There is grandeur in this view of life,   
    as endless forms
    most beautiful and wonderful
    are being evolved.
And then
the drying up, the panic,
the monsters dying: Elcar, Cord,
Auburn, Duesenberg, Stutz—somewhere   
out there, the chassis of Studebakers,   
Marmons, Lafayettes, Bendixes, all   
rusting in high-octane smog,
ashes to ashes, they
end up where they started.

Philip Appleman, “How Evolution Came to Indiana” from New and Selected Poems, 1956-1996. Copyright © 1996 by Phillip Appleman. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Arkansas Press, www.uapress.com.

Source: New and Selected Poems 1956-1996 (University of Arkansas Press, 1996)

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Poet Philip Appleman b. 1926

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Sciences, Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics

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Biography

Poet, novelist, editor, and Darwin expert Philip Appleman is known for his biting social commentary and masterful command of form. The author of numerous volumes of poetry, three novels, and half a dozen collections of prose, Appleman’s range of subject matter includes Darwin, politics, morality, and sex. Art Seidenbaum in the Los Angeles Times described Appleman’s second novel, Shame the Devil (1981) as entertaining and . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Sciences, Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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