Out of Metropolis

By Lynn Emanuel b. 1949 Lynn Emanuel
We’re headed for empty-headedness,
the featureless amnesias of Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada,   
states rich only in vowel sounds and alliteration.   
We’re taking the train so we can see into the heart   
of the heart of America framed in the windows’ cool   
oblongs of light. We want cottages, farmhouses
with peaked roofs leashed by wood smoke to the clouds;   
we want the golden broth of sunlight ladled over   
ponds and meadows. We’ve never seen a meadow.
Now, we want to wade into one—up to our chins in the grassy
welter—the long reach of our vision grabbing up great   
handfuls and armloads of scenery at the clouds’   
white sale, at the bargain basement giveaway   
of clods and scat and cow pies. We want to feel half
of America to the left of us and half to the right, ourselves   
like a spine dividing the book in two, ourselves holding   
the whole great story together.

Then, suddenly, the train pulls into the station,
and the scenery begins to creep forward—the ramshackle shapes
of Main Street, a Chevy dozing at a ribbon of curb, and here is a hound   
and a trolley, the street lights on their long stems, here is the little park
and the park stuff: bum on a bench, deciduous trees, a woman upholstered   
in a red dress, the bus out of town sunk to its chromium bumper in shadows.   
The noise of a train gathers momentum and disappears into the distance,   
and there is a name strolling across the landscape in the crisply voluminous   
script of the title page, as though it were a signature on the contract, as though   
it were the author of this story.

Lynn Emanuel, “Out of Metropolis” from Then, Suddenly . . . Copyright © 1999 by Lynn Emanuel. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, www.upress.pitt.edu. Used with the permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: Then Suddenly— (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999)

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Poet Lynn Emanuel b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Lynn  Emanuel


Lynn Emanuel is the author of several volumes of poetry. She sees her Hotel Fiesta (1984), The Dig (1992), and Then, Suddenly— (1999) as a triptych exploring the convention and flexibility of the book, and the agency of readers and writers. As poet Eavan Boland notes, “Lynn Emanuel’s poems have a rare power: they connect to the world through estrangement.”

The Dig received the National Poetry Series Award. Emanuel’s work has . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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