Rae Ar­mantrout

BOMB Magazine - - CON­TENTS - Rae Ar­mantrout’s book It­self is just out from Wes­leyan Uni­ver­sity Press. Her re­cent books, all pub­lished by Wes­leyan, in­clude Just Say­ing, Money Shot, and Versed, which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize and Na­tional Book Crit­ics Cir­cle Award for Po­etry. She liv



Imag­ine you're try­ing

to lo­cate a lost


by the way its pings

come in re­la­tion

to the wob­ble

of a satel­lite

be­gin­ning to lose

or­bit —

and you feel

no fear.


Now the heavy cables dip into lay­ers of blue and laven­der —

al­most lack­adaisi­cal — and at ei­ther end emit

World's Smallest Pets, Bar­beque Pit Wars


While you were out, they built Kens­ing­ton Com­mons.

You thought, “Princess-sheep-Lit­tle-Bo-Peep-ha-ha,” but there was no room left for such thoughts. Would you like the abil­ity to add a lo­ca­tion to your tweets? When you came to, com­mons meant con­dos and ”distin­guished liv­ing.”

You said, ”My own be­ing grows faint and fades away,”

said it as if speech pre­vented what is said from tak­ing place.

Then said it amazed that ”own” and ”be­ing” could have been joined

in that way


Limpid green sea laps the wall of a ru­ined fortress on a silent tele­vi­sion


a soli­tary crooked pine grows be­tween flat stones at dawn Com­pli­cated loves are best —

and that things should change but be equiv­a­lent. Now I’m turn­ing tan­gles into bows

on the present — on each present as it ap­pears.

Can a bow be bold sim­ply?


A bow must curl back on it­self.



Her at­ten­tion didn’t wan­der so much as it was re­peat­edly pulled out of the text she was read­ing as if by a voice or stare. She scanned the re­cesses of her aware­ness to lo­cate the source. There was a faint burning sen­sa­tion in the mid­dle dis­tance. Maybe she had to pee. But the im­per­a­tive was pre­ma­ture. What­ever this was, it could still flicker out or show it­self in an en­tirely new light. She tried to find her place again in the crowd of words. This would be dif­fer­ent for the first per­son, she thought.


I’m anx­ious when you leave so I must love you. But I don’t like the story you’re telling the strangers around us—ris­ing sea lev­els, hem­or­rhagic fevers. I’ve told it more than once my­self. Con­nect the dots and watch the shape emerge. ”Cut it out,” I want to say, though I don’t know what I mean by ”it.”

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