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  • INSTANT KARMA Lynn Emanuel: United States of Emanuel

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. I am sitting at my computer staring into its light and writing to the planet; my fingers tap, tap, tap at the keyboard like someone walking quickly down a street. This is my place: Pittsburgh is the name of the city (we are famous for steel making and robber barons, we are named after a famous English statesman, William Pitt). Allegheny is the name of the county (we are named after a river which runs through the county and was named two centuries ago by the native  Americans who lived here). Pennsylvania is the name of the state (we are named after a famous English Quaker who founded the state). The mid-Atlantic is the name of the region (we are nearer to the Atlantic Ocean than the Pacific ocean). The United States is the name of the country. It is spring, the sun is bright yellow, the air is thin and raw, the temperature is 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the wind is mild but turns the ornamental caps on my neighbors’ chimney. We are far from the sea; we have hills and mountains where men mine coal. Barges covered with big, black,  mountains of coal go down the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Twenty years ago the air smelled of sulfur from the mills where steel was being made. Sometimes there are terrible floods from the rivers. We are an hour and a half by plane from the Atlantic Ocean. We are an hour and a half south of Lake Erie, one of what are called the Great Lakes. Lake Erie is as large as a small sea. When you stand on its shores, the lake disappears into the horizon. The states that surround us are: Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia, states no one outside the States knows or thinks about. First people think of California. It will take me five hours to fly to Los Angeles tomorrow to read my poems. Or they think of New York, where I was born. We are an hour by plane from New York City. do.” From Afternoon Anthology (Leconte 2001)


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