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Rae Armantrout

Two pieces


An old woman is being led through the parking lot by two girls. They hold her hands and speak in energetic, explanatory bursts while she cranks her head this way and that as if expecting something which has yet to appear.

As if the crystalline clarity of this ocean pool, cradled in two lava arms, meant something which we had been waiting to hear, something indistinguishable from meaning itself, and unchanging, so that, finally, it’s we who turn to go.



As if a single scream
gave birth

to whole families
of traits

such as “flavor,” “color,”

and this tendency to cling.


Dry, white frazzle
in a blue vase —


a frozen swarm
of incommensurate wishes.


Slow, blue, stiff
are forms

of crowd behavior,

mass hysteria.

Come close.

The crowd is made of
little gods

and there is still
no heaven

Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout’s most recent books are Up to Speed (Wesleyan, 2004), The Pretext (Green Integer, 2001) and Veil: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2001). Her poems have been included in numerous anthologies, including Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (1993), American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Language Meets the Lyric Tradition, (Wesleyan, 2002), The Great American Prose Poem: Poe to the Present (Scribner, 2003) and The Best American Poetry of 1988, 2001, 2002, and 2004. She is Professor of Writing and American Literature at the University of California, San Diego.

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