In the Faraway Suburbs

By Urayoán Noel Urayoan Noel

                                   Listen to the creepy proclamation,                       
                                   Blown through the lairs of the forest-nation
                                   —Vachel Lindsay

Who knows why my baby left me?
Who knows where she could have gone?
Is she hiding in the center
Of some little-known downtown?
Has she been seduced by villains?
Have they got her gagged and bound?
Vanished from the lost and found
With no trace and no reminder . . . ?
Yeah, she’s lost, but I will find her
Down in the faraway suburbs.
2                        Puerto Rico
In Guaynabo and Tao Baja
The theorists and professors
Are playing rhetorical poker
With their identity cards,
They are shooting wads of wisdom
To impress the senile deans;
Meanwhile, the good citizens
Are all working for the government,
Cheating on taxes and spouses
Down in the faraway suburbs.
3                        New York
The Greyhound wheezes its way
From New York up to Poughkeepsie;
I pass the time singing “Gypsy”
By Fleetwood Mac, a cappella;
And the watercolor landscape
Falls apart on the gray planes;
The diners and the dead-ends,
The deserted factories,
And the doors creak noisily
Down in the faraway suburbs.
The are prehistoric skeletons
At the beach on Staten Island
And the jellyfish are dancing
Slow, hydrochloric waltzes:
There are Doric-style chalets
With South American servants
Where the little brothers play;
Sniffing underarms and solvents
While the dog shows off its teeth
Down in the faraway suburbs.
Here the end of the expressway
Gives way to medieval forests
And correctional facilities
And McDonald’s without tourists;
I’m overwhelmed by the view
Of the mansions on the plains,
The housing projects, the flames
Creeping through the dead of winter
As the landfill burns tonight
Down in the faraway suburbs.
6                        California
In the righteous neighborhoods,
Atherton, West Palo Alto,
They’re paving over the asphalt
With the gravel of privilege—
All ones hears are the arpeggios
Of the pre-recorded pianos,
And the trembling of the hands
That are serving themselves gin
And the shot glass shattering
Down in the faraway suburbs.
Far from all the shantytowns,
In Millbrae and Redwood City,
One more neighborhood committee
Is creating civic centers
And more monumental malls
Catering to healthy pleasures:
Peewee softball in the summers,
Window-shopping, Cineplex,
And those fruity Tex-Mex shakes
Down in the faraway suburbs.
A distant, majestic Sun
Licks the cliffs and the embankments,
I search for your embalmed eye
On the coast of the Pacific.
Marin County  in particular
Has its share of urban ghosts,
Like those midget saxophonists
Who long for their days of glory
And are now telling their story
Down in the faraway suburbs.
I’ve searched for you in each corner of
This innocuous continent—
Could it be you’re facing me?
Could it be that you’re my neighbor?
That the downtown and the eye balm
And the grime that coats your hands
Are all arcane holograms?
That your epileptic smile
Died that antiseptic night
Down in the faraway suburbs.

Urayoán Noel, “In the Faraway Suburbs” from Kool Logic. Copyright © 2005 by Urayoán Noel. Reprinted by permission of Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe.

Source: Kool Logic (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2005)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Urayoán Noel

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Life Choices, Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Series/Sequence

 Urayoán  Noel


Urayoán Noel was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and attended the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, Stanford University, and New York University. As a poet, Noel is the author of Buzzing Hemisphere/Rumor Hemisférico (2015), a Library Journal Top Fall Indie Poetry selection; Hi-Density Politics (2010), a National Book Critics Circle Small Press Highlights selection; Kool Logic/La Lógica Kool (2005), an El Nuevo . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Urayoán Noel

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.