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Exuberance

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Exuberance sips bootleg gin from a garter flask
with a ruby monogram “E.”

She wears a red dress one size too small,
eyes wide, she flirts with everyone, dares

Lincoln Beachey to fly until he runs out of gas,
rides a dead engine all the way down.

She watches Ormer Locklear climb
out of the cockpit two hundred feet up,

tap dance on his upper wing
as the houses of  honest families

with their square-fenced yards
slide below his shuffle. An oval pond

winks in the sun, like a zero.
Exuberance challenges pilots

to master the Falling Leaf, perfect the Tailspin,
ignore the Graveyard Spiral, the Doom Loop.

These aviators predict every American will fly.
Exuberance believes Everybody Ought

to Be Rich,  John J. Raskob explains why
in the Ladies Home Journal. She gets stock tips

from her manicurist, call loans from her broker,
buys Radio, Seaboard Utilities, Sears,

orders shares in investment trusts — why not? — 
chain stores keep multiplying, cars, trucks,

planes, houses. This nation is all about growth,
growth and leverage, look at the skyscrapers shooting up,

men rivet steel, floor after floor, high-speed elevators
spring through the cores, planes soar over them all.

Sherman Fairchild has made a million
selling aerial photographs of real estate.

Exuberance travels constantly, owns land
in Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Palm Beach,

she trades “binders” on lots five times over,
befriends Mr. Charles Ponzi from Boston

who is raking in a bundle near Jacksonville.
Prices for sand and palms are sure to rise.

But how do we know when irrational exuberance
has unduly escalated asset values?

Wall Street has been wing walking,
call it barnstormer capitalism,

soon the bankers and the brokers will steal
the aviators’ lexicon, claim their own tail risks,

graveyard spirals, doomsday cycles,
wonder how everything blue-sky stayed up so long.

Exuberance buys more stock on margin,
volume runs high, the ticker tape

can’t keep up, higher, higher, higher,
Black Thursday, not a parachute in sight.

Source: Poetry (April 2014)
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Exuberance

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  • Dolores Hayden’s poems about American places have appeared in Poetry, Shenandoah, The Yale Review, Southwest Review, Raritan, Best American Poetry, and Architrave. She’s received The Writer/Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America, as well as the Barbara Bradley Award and the Boyle/Farber Award from the New England Poetry Club. Her most recent collections are American Yard (2004) and Nymph, Dun, and Spinner (2010). She has been a poetry fellow at Djerassi and VCCA as well as a Guggenheim, ACLS, and NEA fellow. 

    Hayden’s books on the history of American urban landscapes include Building Suburbia (2003), A Field Guide to Sprawl (2004), and The Power of Place (1995). She is a professor of architecture, urbanism, and American Studies at Yale University where she teaches a seminar called “Poets’ Landscapes.”

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