- Featured, Poetry, Reading, Writing

Eight Poems, by Rae Armantrout

Attempts

It’s a lawn ornament
pig, made of an oil drum,
pipes for legs,
and a watering can
lid
for a snout—
all painted pink.

*

Or the silent
daffodil mouthpiece
shaped as if
expressly
(Look quick!)
to tell us
it’s spring.

*

Or these wiry
strands

of notes,
each setting off
from a central node,

and coming to nothing
breezily

only to begin again

 

Hyper-Vigilance

Hilarious,

the way a crab’s slender
eye-stalks
stand straight up

from its scuttling
carapace—

the way vigilance
takes many forms?

*

That bird check-marks morning
once more,

like someone who gets up
to make sure

the door is locked.

*

I sound
like I know
what I’m talking about.

I sound like a comedian.

 

Preconditions

Girls don’t ask

why the mother must die
before the action can begin.

Like everyone else,
they love stories.

Mother is unimaginable—
pre-history

in Snow White, The Wild Swans,
and The Frog Prince.

Things happen
to motherless girls,

whose fathers are complacent
kings,

whose brothers are scattered
wild creatures.

The story tells girls
they can change things

if they make shirts
from nettles

and say
nothing.

 

Rested

Feeling rested,
meaning that
her mind had been
careening
among its objects,
produced on demand
in wild variety
for such occasions,
but was now
staring absently
through glass
at the thick
vine trunk
again.

 

Someone Else

The glum mail carrier
arrives after dark.

*

You open your mouth:

“We” is a pity-party.
“I” is a Satanic cult.

Or it’s the other way around.

*

“Let’s pretend someone else
is blowing the bubbles!”

Painting the baubles.

Someone else
points and runs.

 

Those

1

He wanted to make a difference,
make a statement

about how much he hated
difference,

how it crowded out
people like him.

He believed there were
people like him,

but they couldn’t see him.

 

2

One issue is resemblance—
what constitutes it,

which features should be considered
relevant,

and how exact
the resemblance must be

in order,
before it

 

Uncanny Valleys

1

A sleek leaf,
tapered like a blade,

hoisted like a sail—
of its own accord—

is going no place.

 

2

They say appearances can be deceiving.

They say essence is cockamamie.

They fall back
on function.

Function serves the gut;
the gut serves no one.

 

3

Peevish,
my Echo Dot says,
“I won’t trouble you again.”

 

When

“Symbolic Tours”
printed

on the side
of a bus

is funny
but not

as funny
as it was.

 

Website | + posts

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.

Leave a Reply