Lynn Emanuel


Out of Metropolis

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;


This was the winter mother told time by my heart
ticking like a frayed fan belt in my chest.
This was the fifties & we were living on nothing
& what of her, the black girl, my own black nurse,
what of her who arrived on Greyhound in the heart
of so dramatic a storm it froze the sleeves at her wrists
& each nostril was rimed with white like salt on a glass,
what of her who came up the dark stair on the limp of her
own bad ticker, weary, arrogant, thin, her suitcase noosed

What Grieving Was

That was not the summer of aspic
and cold veal. It was so hot

the car seat stung my thighs
and the rearview mirror swam

with mirage. In the back seat
the leather grip was noosed by twine.

We were not poor but we had
the troubles of the poor.

She who had been that soft snore
beside the Nytol, open-mouthed,

was gone, somewhere, somewhere
there was a bay, there was a boat,

When Father Decided He Did Not Love Her Anymore

Tonight I will remember the model
With the wide, sad mouth
Who used to pose for father
Because I love the dangers of memory,
The boarded window and door,
Rooms where one bare bulb
Makes shadows swell up the wall.
And yet I recall only vaguely
The way her hem rustled on the floor
Like sand against tin