If I could see nothing but the smoke From the tip of his cigar, I would know everything About the years before the war. If his face were halved by shadow I would know This was a street where an EATS sign trembled And a Greek served coffee black as a dog's eye. If I could see nothing but his wrist I would know About the slot machine and I could reconstruct The weak chin and ruin of his youth, the summer My father was a gypsy with oiled hair sleeping In a Murphy bed and practicing clairvoyance. I could fill his vast Packard with showgirls And keep him forever among the difficult buttons Of the bodice, among the rustling of their names, Miss Christina, Miss Lorraine. I could put his money in my pocket and wearing memory's black fedora With the condoms hidden in the hatband The damp cigar between my teeth, I could become the young man who always got sentimental About London especially in Las Vegas with its single bridge- So ridiculously tender--leaning across the river To watch the starlight's soft explosions. If I could trace the two veins that crossed His temple, I would know what drove him To this godforsaken place, I would keep him forever Remote from war--like the come-hither tip of his lit cigar Or the harvest moon, that gold planet, remote and pure American.
Lynn Emanuel - 1949-
Homage to Sharon Stone
It's early morning. This is the "before," the world hanging around in its wrapper, blowzy, frumpy, doing nothing: my neighbors, hitching themselves to the roles of the unhappily married, trundle their three mastiffs down the street. I am writing this book of poems. My name is Lynn Emanuel. I am wearing a bathrobe and curlers; from my lips, a Marlboro drips ash on the text. It is the third of September nineteen**. And as I am writing this in my trifocals and slippers, across the street, Sharon Stone, her head swollen with curlers, her mouth red and narrow as a dancing slipper, is rushed into a black limo. And because these limos snake up and down my street, this book will be full of sleek cars nosing through the shadowy ocean of these words. Every morning, Sharon Stone, her head in a helmet of hairdo, wearing a visor of sunglasses, is engulfed by a limo the size of a Pullman, and whole fleets of these wind their way up and down the street, day after day, giving to the street (Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh, PA) and the book I am writing, an aspect that is both glamorous and funereal. My name is Lynn Emanuel, and in this book I play the part of someone writing a book, and I take the role seriously, just as Sharon Stone takes seriously the role of the diva. I watch the dark cars disappear her and in my poem another Pontiac erupts like a big animal at the cool trough of a shady curb. So, when you see this black car, do not think it is a Symbol For Something. It is just Sharon Stone driving past the house of Lynn Emanuel who is, at the time, trying to write a book of poems. Or you could think of the black car as Lynn Emanuel, because, really, as an author, I have always wanted to be a car, even though most of the time I have to be the "I," or the woman hanging wash; I am a woman, one minute, then I am a man, I am a carnival of Lynn Emanuels: Lynn in the red dress; Lynn sulking behind the big nose of my erection; then I am the train pulling into the station when what I would really love to be is Gertrude Stein spying on Sharon Stone at six in the morning. But enough about that, back to the interior decorating: On the page, the town looks bald and dim so I turn up the amps on the radioactive glances of bad boys. In a kitchen, I stack pans sleek with grease, and on a counter there is a roast beef red as a face in a tantrum. Amid all this bland strangeness is Sharon Stone, who, like an engraved invitation, is asking me, Won't you, too, play a role? I do not choose the black limo rolling down the street with the golden stare of my limo headlights bringing with me the sun, the moon, and Sharon Stone. It is nearly dawn; the sun is a fox chewing her foot from the trap; every bite is a wound and every wound is a red window, a red door, a red road. My name is Lynn Emanuel. I am the writer trying to unwrite the world that is all around her.