Rae Armantrout: Four new poems 2019




“Let it go,” they say, meaning whatever you were just feeling.

And the feeling before that too, if you can recall it. I don’t really distinguish

between feelings and thoughts.


When I write I am trying to recapture the shape of a thought,

though I don’t believe in ghosts.


When they say “let it go,” they may mean you should focus

on what is now before your eyes –

the growing pile of papers

on the desk, for instance, atop which

a plastic bag of colorful rubber bands

has perched.




As sleep comes,

I’m often surprised to feel

something give way


or let go,

something I didn’t know I was holding —

being held by.


When I die, will this feeling recur?

Will it seem like I’m meeting

someone I know?





Grotto of letter



grove of T’s.


Do I believe

there’s safety

in numbers,


in number?




AI spells death

to truck stops


and their gift shops

packed with lonesome






How rhythm

once defined distance —


I mean domesticated it.




Each neuron

broadcasts its call sign




until another homes in

and a synapse forms.




Woody bark

covers the shoots.   







Where is the link

between kindling

and kin?


I start with second thoughts

and work backwards


toward infantile amnesia.

In the beginning,


there was cremation. No,

in the beginning was a tandem


jiggling of fields.

I sort of liked it.


Mostly I wanted to know

what else


was in that bag —

like it was bottomless,


if I’m like you.   




It seems possible to know

that if I look out back

I will see the intense red

of the rose (lush? deep?)

not as if for the first time

but as if for the first time



and further that each

unfolding, each collapse

will bring with it,

like a booby prize

this same sense of discovery.




These streets are called arterials.


For hours

a man grimaces

at traffic


with the “merely formal



of which Kant speaks.




Wherever there is a wound,

a wound is at the center.


Should the reverse

also be true?


Is each center

a sort of wound? 




The toddler points

to her bellybutton

and asks, “More?”






At the start, we discovered

the meanings

of the sounds we made


and the thunder

yelled, “No!”