To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rae Armantrout: Four New Poems from a Work in Progress 2012


                       ALL SOULS

Pallid, thin skinned
potatoes bunched
like grapes
on yellow stems.


I can’t remember
my mother


This is not the mother
I remember.


When asked
if she’s frightened,

the raped child

that she is afraid
of ghosts.



We inquire about heaven
as we might
about a nursing home.

Will I get email there?

Will I have insights

and someone
to be pleased with them?

Will that person
be faking it?

Will she be under orders?

Will my words
seem foreign?


“Twee, twee!”
some sound insists.



Fairy tales enchant the cast-off

cut out

of the third person.


You watch the storm
bear down on you
on television.

“I hope I never
have to live
through this


Find Nemo
in the sea

of bodies,
ooze and muscle,

little flick-tail.

            THE MATTER

The remote
is for later,

as I often
tell myself.


Is it possible to speak
of rules
without picturing
the mouth of God?

He said, “You must go

and you should take
the shortcut.”

The angels responded
at once,

as one?

Thus they are known
as messengers -

though they bring
but their gowns.

The rest of us
stand still,


by the hostility
of pronouns

[note.  Armantrout’s most recent book-length publication was Money Shot, published last year by Wesleyan University Press. An earlier collection, Versed (2009), received both a Pulitzer Prize & a National Book Critics Circle Award, while her connection to the most innovative side of American & world poetry remains as strong as ever. Previous postings on Poems & Poetics can be found here & here, as well as Marjorie Perloff’s essay “An Afterword for Rae Armantrout.” (J.R.)]

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