MY BODY IS AFRAID OF YOUR BODY WHEN YOUR BODY
My body is afraid of your body when your body moves to move away. My body is a theme party that’s found a deeper way to care about its guests and when they leave. It’s me and not my body that gets the words of the song wrong, My body lies over the ocean, though it’s my body that gets up now to turn off the television. On it, two bodies who aren’t your body read news that pertains to other bodies and are proper inside their clothing. I or is it my body knows when it’s time to make [...]
Ebenezer Makes a Prediction
The light goes on The light goes off A man sells a banana A man sells a pear The weather is fair today Tomorrow it might not be so fair You are singing You are eating You are disrobing You are sleeping The world is turning The world is drying up It is forgetting It is remembering There is a small beep After the beep is silence
on film, it’s a fountain lit from behind erupting or a story-high wave’s motion barely foiled by indifferent coastline. that is, always water, always upward then the inevitability of gravity, always light then always less light.
not in the movie, what is bright is internal. usually in a dim room, though sometimes pitch dark, the brightness can never be seen.
perhaps that’s its source of power: an unseeable phantom with unmistakable presence, a presence that violates the peace of the body then leaves, abruptly, only an asymptotal approach to numbness we call linger.
The Original Self-Pleasure Equation
& other inconsiderate lilies. Or any mineral aspiring to ambulate. Which is not to say living in close quarters. Leaves rubbing & rustling, promiscuous breeze egging them on. To carry on tastefully until the bitter end. To stay on the lookout for aught nubile in negligée. Not to be neglected like the young & juicy fancy their feelings (to the swell of strings). In other words America & its discontents, table of. Quantity, quality, & other mysterious divides. Yet another veiled Islamic reference. No rest for the wary. No wrest for the offended infidel smashing bottles on officious effigies. To be faithful & timid, to redirect [...]
i take the feeling of you—stomp it out with my black throat— throw it down the cement hatch
it bleeds in gold rushes
i’ll be up all night—moon headed—stiff as the wind i sniff until i have enough desert in me knifing the boy inside a man—i moan
this is how i know i am cowboy—my bones screaming a strut to the sinners’ shrine
in the barrio—ghosts i used to know who won’t moan me now—i’ve become the mirror i watch the moon pull back my skin
after Anthony Opal’s cento sonnets
In the wet dreaming room seventeen and a half boys masturbate on seventeen and a half make-believe beds, sleeping hands tied round seventeen and a half blue roses blooming to the organ-grinder’s song. In every way, they are their sustained melodic breakdown, un-adorned emotion cast off outside our atonal scudding. O let me dream not the logic of boats but of rooms billowing with brackish wine, you and me lost at sea, reed-deep in the technical journals. We are a helpless make-believe presence deteriorating except in alcohol. Do you want me to take off my human myself? Sailboat, frail boat—ugly and marvelous body! There [...]
[come to me, sweet stranger]
come to me, sweet stranger, and make of me a moment, a nostalgia, to give to the wind, to give to the one, who is standing there, at the meeting place, where the safety is immense, and not to tangle with, where the sentence can arrive, as though through a spaciousness, surrounding her, through its particulars, through its split, integument, intangible, what she will take, what she will have, to wander, with, over the paths, with their names in tow, in time, a morning, a motive,
come to me, sweet stranger, and make of me a ruthlessness, out of the fatigue, a furlough or [...]
The Stag and the Quiver
Once there was a deer called stag. A white breasted, a many pointed. He refused to still when he halted, the hooves in his mind were always lifted. Everything comes close, the branches slide. In a clearing made of cleavings, stag sees another stag. They watch each other, they share no story. I will not cross you and you must move on. There is nothing else. It reminds me of some tale, stay with me to remember, it reminds me of where I was going without you.
The hunter sinks his arrows into the trees and then paints the targets around them. [...]
Way before the title fights, I dressed in my older sister’s Clothes I stole and danced And hummed and kicked up Dust for neighborhood boys— As they sat in Hawkin’s field, Rolling corn silk in newspaper To smoke, while I, in reverie, Began a whorling version of “Are You Washed in the Blood?” For the last smithereens of me To be born beyond a god of mine.
The Valley of I Hate Myself
After a few years of You can have me if you don’t hurt me and You can kiss me if you promise to leave soon, I pack my stuff and head south. I drive past the ranch style homes of I like to watch it burn and the freakish dust bowl of If I can’t have you no one will, and into the valley of I hate myself. Forget the bad weather and the dead weight of ghosts, the plus sides make themselves immediately clear: if you plant something, it is almost certain to grow, if you want to live off the land, there [...]
Hallmark meteorology: a little what-if weather sworn over time to the ridgeline conditions the basiners downvalley to the lucky look of trouble. In an updraft apprehension replenishes the cloud, a steady sort of borrowing
against promise. Welling at bottom, a slow spring fills centrally where it plummets, a sump and font that fills
convexity out to its inky meniscus, whether there the landmark melancholy were owing to the mirror it lends the blotted sky or to the condition of abysses. A cygnet is drawn anyway, milky, apprehensive,
to water’s edge, to study his launch, and fixes his look across the curvature, a creature whose rarity may—look
again—enrapture each round-turning [...]
Blue Water Navy
Darling, the world, it will come at you with the migrating eyes of flounder traveling through the matter of their own heads having reimagined axis and ground. There is a certain parasite that turns a crab from male to female, or is it female to male? The average male armadillo’s penis is larger than that of some gorillas. I can’t help it if most facts are, in fact, facts about sex. Don’t bother pretending; don’t try to fix this for me. We acquire debt. An animal is able to live in captivity which is where we take our measurements. Watching them go at it sometimes we like [...]
Aubade While Falling
From here, the smallest increment above the sheet, I plummet. We know the law: we are all repulsive. Nothing touches anything else. A café and some version of you, impatient, dressed in furs, but this alleyway circuit board. I never know who’s chasing me. Define close as nearby though not imminent: you are close, but not here. The warm vacuum between us, not your skin, but the sensation of force. I am a magnet. I am a pole. In this mountain village, gravity is a lie we tell to feel connected. I know what’s coming. Pigeons scatter. Nothing solid in the stairwell. From this height, I watch [...]
Vince Neil’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua, As Transcribed by Josh, in a Crowded Hotel Bar One Afternoon, Being a Poem Spoken in the Future, During the Upcoming AWP Conference of 2014, in Seattle, Washington
Of the latter heroes I was most supine, handed out warnings to women who were pregnant or were likely to become pregnant, hope tucked bloodless into saddlebag, neither hunter nor borrower, sometimes referred to myself as It— as in charity is its bird machine—a strap-on fashioned out of bits of the foregone cross coming at me from the future in the tiniest and the most lineal of dreams, my preferred haruspex pondering her retirement and [...]
Sockets You feed yourself frothy maple Greek
mousse whip. Each bite a virgin.
Promiscuity and sloth no longer sins
after what you've done.
Or you have perfect understanding
of past events which no longer
seem unjust. Your “Oh”
a sphere, a song.
But in the afterlife,
roots rip from your sockets,
new brains in their tips,
scouting for water
Rae Armantrout's most recent books of poetry are Just Saying (2013) and Money Shot (2011). Versed (2009) received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She teaches at the University of California, San Diego.
A Life in the Theater
I was wrong, I shouldn’t have picked up the phone
just to read you the line you already knew from the review
the reviewer wrote that said you were no good in the play I can’t remember
and only came to see because it was you alive somewhere else in it—shining below the fake sun
and I was in love with something you said or thought or willed into being
because of just being back in the boat with the living after swimming too far out and for so long just
to meet living again. I struggled to get on board and join the [...]
I will not think about tripe. I will not think about tripe and its opulent crate of brown sponge. I will not think about tripe because I don’t want tripe to be a thought of me stored in my dimpled entrails. I don’t want to be tripe boiled and thought about or fattened with grotesque drippings of phrene from head bending like tripe and its deep tube of encyclopedic justice. If tripe plumps I don’t want to eat just the fleshy leaves of cabbage growth. I don’t want your vegetable and arborescent creed to halve the pomegrantian blisters filled with red tropes and white homeomeries of advancement. When I [...]
54 Prince There exist 54 Goldilocks planets 54 planets not too hot 54 planets not too cold 54 planets where the living is juuuuuust right in that particular planetary zone
54 planets like Earth but not Earth Similar not the same 54 planets close but different Different except for Prince
Assless Pants Prince High-Heel Boots Prince Purple Rain Prince Paisley Park Prince I Would Die For You Prince Ejaculating Guitar Prince Jehovah’s Witness Prince Needs A New Hip Prince Wrote Slave On His Face Prince Took An Unpronounceable Symbol For His Name Prince Chka Chka Chka Ahh Prince
54 planets each with a Prince and every Prince exactly [...]
The Storm We Call Progress
Strum and concept, drum and bitterness, the dog of history keeps being blown into the present— her back to the future, her last supper simply becoming the bowels’ dissolving memory in a heap before her. A child pats her back and drones there-there while under her lifted skirt is a perfect today where a cult of ghost-lovers predicts a rapture but instead remains to inherit varicose veins, rubber knickers, douches with bulbs, douches with bags, girdles in a choice of pink, red or white, and in rubber, silk or twilled linen, enemas, clysters, oils balms, and other Benjamin etceteras burrowing like scabies into the [...]
It’s a cold rehearsal before we all drive off. The ride out is mindless and short on goodbyes. And in the flurry of parties she lost her passport. A slow smoke, a think in the old car… how they moved through their places and phrases and onto the bedroom where mostly we kept it all in. People won’t tell you, but if you lose enough things you do become something. All day the water endlessly filters so it’s not the same pool. In the morning our photos looked darker than us and the subject we were was a gamble (I know). The night winds came through and the [...]