METROPOLIS

BY LUCIA PERILLO

“Let’s all watch as the world goes to the devil!”
—Fritz Lang, 1926

She must have written Beauty’s how-to book:
see the isotopes inside her veins,
her literal veins, lit up under her skin,
her liquidmetal jumpsuit skin,
when the mad scientist throws the switch
and her whole vascular system shines. I don’t know

how we fabricate the silver from this gray-
on-gray concatenation of flanges
sitting on her throne with the electrostatic waves
twitching into her limbs,
her knees and breasts like walnut shells:
she’s an armadillo/hybrid/roller derby queen.

And we who try to grip Futura in our hands
find she is like water. Nothing there
when we open them up
yet see the wetness on my palms—
at certain times of day they too are silver
and if sunlight hits them right they are ablaze.

But any iridescence I wear is thin veneer
whereas the robot wears hers deep deep deep
in her titanium bones, which we’ll see in the end
when she hangs toasted on the cross,
hips swiveled, knees bent
in one of the common, iconical poses of Jesus.

Then what are we left with—the hero’s silly silk knee boots?
Or that smirking blondie heroine
with only rubber bones inside?
And our longing for what—a robot, a Reich.
Something capable of the hardest kiss.
So civilization, your turn: rough me up, now that you’re saved.

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Lucia Perillo’s fourth book of poems, Luck is Luck, was published by Random House in 2005 and was awarded the Kingsley Tufts prize from Claremont University. Her poetry and prose also earned her a MacArthur fellowship in 2000. She lives in Olympia, Washington.