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Four Poems, by Rae Armantrout

 

Word Is

In the beginning,
“is,”

with its long Z sound,

is invested,
infested.

*

With ripple and stutter;
bloom and meme.

*

Swooping and curling,
the vine sprigs
are graphomaniacs.

*

In the rush
to say something
novel and credible,

many celebrants
are crushed.

*

A palm frond shimmies
like a tambourine.

 

Overthink

Light-infused blue.

So it seems.

Called “baby.”

The veil of leaves.

Was that a cliché?

Piercingly sweet.

Big tinkle!

*

Small realizations, lined up. Pings.
Heart-beats.

Well-modulated.

*

Which came first
the pulse or the impulse?

Either seems implausible.

*

“Eleven minutes ago,
we went to the tummy store.”
The little girl gestures
as if moving hangers
sideways

 

Dark

Light is dark
until it strikes
something, gets
deflected.

*

At the speed of light,
there is no time and
nothing can happen.

 

Slipstream

1

The red tree
by the yellow one.

Here

is a sensation
like the squeal

of a balloon when
pressure’s put on it,

and it expels air
sharply.

 

2

A Jack-O-Lantern
is an aid
to memory.

Cartoon orange
of the October trees.

We get to practice
falling into darkness,

grabbing at candy.

 

3

“Here’s”
a little vague.

It’s a wandering
pinhole
of feeling,

an unaccountable funnel.

Pursed lips
in the slipstream.

 

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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 Finalists, Conjure, 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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