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

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Rae Armantrout: Four New & Unpublished Poems

                                                 for Ish Klein 


We grade stories
and we reconcile accounts. 

By night we binge
on The Walking Dead.


"An actual electron
emits and swallows
its own photons
now and then." 


Confusing exchange
with use value
makes the word "own"
a hot mess.


When I'm alone
I pose 

my question: 

Why is one

always squared? 

                     SOME BODY               


When I first lie down, trying to sleep, there's a lump of dread and hurt in my midsection. When did this thing form? Was it always there? I remember being young - that is, I remember places I lived and some of the things I did. I lived in an expensive, unheated apartment in San Francisco and sat around with my poet friends at readings and in bars. I had written maybe 20 poems. I thought I was near the center of something and could aim to embody it. That's enough to get a person going. 


            Vines pegged to stakes: 

            veins over bones, 

            the beginning
            or end of 



                                    Weed tops turned
                                    white frizz up,
                                    blow off, get
                                    carried away. 


                                                            But the uncertainty
                                                            in her eyes, 

                                                            the hesitant steps 

                                                            as if she were making
                                                                                                                     some mistake



Phlegmatic and unbending, 

Russell Crowe as Noah 

teaches us 

to hold the door 

against “the desperate” 

and “the many” 

threatened by catastrophic 

climate change –

worse than we’d guessed 

and more immediate.


Are we stowaways?


Zipper fracture 

involves simultaneous 

stimulation of parallel 

horizontal wells. 


surfactant gel 

has/has not been 

adequately described 

             RNA WORLD 


The numbers speak for themselves. 

"To repeat is to recognize." 

"Do you copy?"


Here's one way to tell it. 

Having arisen 


you monitor 

your thoughts 

and varying 

levels of discomfort, 

then file a report - 

now just a memory, 

one eclipsing the last 

and you 

aren't even tired. 

Or are you? 

You grow another you - 

a down-home, 



whom you project 

to cover your

[NOTE. Rae Armantrout’s newest book, Itself, will be published in 2015 by Wesleyan University Press.  She has emerged in recent years as an essential contributor to a new & evolving American poetry, the force of the work in fulfillment of Lydia Davis’s earlier assessment: “In every line, every stanza of these brief and dense poems, Rae Armantrout’s powerful mix of scientific inquiry and social commentary, wit and strangeness, is profoundly stimulating. She changes the way one sees the world and hears language—every poem an explosion on the page in which her individuality shines through. Is the work funny? Absolutely. Moving? Yes. But beware—after reading Armantrout you will question everything, including what it means to be ‘funny’ and ‘moving.’” Previous postings on Poems & Poetics can be found here & here, as well as Marjorie Perloff’s essay“An Afterword for Rae Armantrout.” (J.R.)


No comments: