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Four Poems, by Rae Armantrout

 

Ready

It is always possible.

There are several forms
it is more or less
likely to take

at any point—
but it won’t
except by chance.

I need you
to locate this,
get at it

where it almost
is, almost isn’t
floating in near vacuum.

Feel it out
until “ping”
is its pronoun.

I am ready
to be displaced.

 

Chill

Ta-dum.

I want to make something
out of nothing

then sparkle and chill,
chill and sparkle

like a constellation.

A silver droplet hanging
from the tip
of each split leaf.

A drop
and its odd
diminutive.

 

Your Business

“It’s hot in the summer,”
you tell the stranger,

speaking in code
you no longer understand.

*

The wings of the iris
are ruffled, you say.

Bach’s muscular pauses
allow for repetition.

*

Beings vary only
in stress

and duration,

occupation and
preoccupation.

*

While you push a dung ball
uphill,

with infinity’s
patience,

you propagate bursts
of viral

likes and shares.

 

The Sleep Problem

1

“If there’s anything I can do
to help me,” I said.

That’s not what I meant.

I must hold my intention
in my mind’s eye
or it will go astray.

I must remember
to intend
to hold it
tenderly.

2

“Kickity-doodah,” I say,
when you flop over
in bed, thrashing—

meaning zippity-brouhaha
in a language I keep forgetting
you don’t speak.

3

A sentence
begins and ends

in the present
but on the way

we need to hurry.
Zippity-Doo-Dah

is a slave song
commissioned by Walt Disney.

Elmer Fudd aims
his blunderbuss,

his boundless, abstract
rage.

 

Rae Armantrout is the author of many books of poetry and has also been featured in a number of major anthologies. Her most recent books include Versed (winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry), Money Shot, Just Saying, Itself, Partly: New and Selected Poems, 2001-2015, and Wobble (a National Book Awards finalist). Armantrout currently teaches at the University of California, San Diego, where she is Professor of Poetry and Poetics.

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