I think the author identifies “city poems” as poems about the chaos people endure in the city; that the city may not seem enjoyable to most. The chaos that the city brings can take a toll on a person and can leave them questioning their life. Lines seven to ten describe how people pray and “feel the heart beat in a handful of nothing” which I interpreted it as meaning that the city can drain people of whatever they have and leave them with nothing. When people have nothing to fall back on, faith holds a powerful connection to people who seek support to help put back the broken pieces of life and by praying, a higher power can bring an answer to their prayers.
However, Hogan seems to find the beauty and joy that the city brings and describes it in her poem, “Heartland”. I think that Hogan enjoys the city life with the detail in lines eleven to seventeen, where she describes construction workers, beggars, pigeons, and peoples’ regurgitation on metal. I interpreted the statement “human acids etching themselves into metal” as how many people travel to the city to become famous and make a name for themselves which the “human acid” being written onto the metal represents a person “writing there name in stone”.
In stanza three, line twenty, Hogan writes “listening hard to the underground language” where the “underground language” refers to the lingo of the streets of the city where people of the city understand one another and can communicate with each other, even if they are not speaking the same language. When growing up anywhere, a person picks up certain characteristics of their society. Specifically, when growing up in the city, a person MUST learn the rules (language) of the city to succeed. The “underground language” is hidden within the city, where “outsiders” ponder upon conversations on the street, trying to figure what it really means.
When Hogan writes “listening hard” I think she refers to taking