Rae Armantrout


Tracts amenable
to brief description.

Light finds the quickest route

and the mind tries
to see patterns.

What do these things have in common?

They behave as if


As he takes your order,
the fast-food clerk says,
“ I can hook you up.”

Fish shaped like pencils
or tattered stars
patrol the small aquarium.

(The whole being
of the sophisticated person
is an answer to questions
not immediately posed.)

Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”
is batted back
and forth
between speakers.


One says, “Without question.”
Or “I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Or “Dachau rocked my world.” And

as for me,

I’m pure hatred.


The impulse
on which ice plant fingers

and hibiscus opens
its dry mouths
to yawn—

screw “unison”—

get it and go on