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About this Poem 

“Like most of my poems, ‘Lie’ has several sources: I read a very troubling book called The Sixth Extinction. I took note of the way people, including me, enjoy talking knowledgeably about how the world will end. I drove to Tucson and saw the desert flowering on either side of the road. And I glanced at my spam to see what people wanted to sell me these days.”

—Rae Armantrout

Lie

Rae Armantrout, 1947

1

I lay down
the acidification
of the ocean
with a sly smile.

Unstoppable
beats fiery impact
every time.

*

But the sweet yellow
shoulders of the road—

the up and up
into same blossom.

I'd like to hold these
in reserve.

2

“Protect your identity”
says Mileage.com
three times today
as if it knew something.

I may want to fly cheap,
cruise in luxury,
buy a walk-in-tub
and burial insurance.

*

I may want to lie still
and think about my choices.

Copyright @ 2014 by Rae Armantrout. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 27, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by Rae Armantrout. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 27, 2014.

Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout was born in Vallejo, California, in 1947, and grew up

by this poet

poem
Quick, before you die,
describe

the exact shade
of this hotel carpet.

What is the meaning
of the irregular, yellow

spheres, some
hollow,

gathered in patches
on this bedspread?

If you love me,
worship

the objects
I have caused

to represent me
in my absence.


     *

Over and over
tiers

of houses spill
poem
       1


Anything cancels
everything out.

If each point
is a singularity,

thrusting all else
aside for good,

“good” takes the form
of a throng
of empty chairs.

Or  it’s ants
swarming a bone.


       2 

I’m afraid
I don’t love
my mother
who’s dead

though I once –
what does “once” mean? –
did love her .
poem
Sad, fat boy in pirate hat.
Long, old, dented,
copper-colored Ford.

How many traits
must a thing have
in order to be singular?

(Echo persuades us
everything we say
has been said at least once 
                                        before.)

Two plump, bald men
in gray tee-shirts
and tan shorts 

are walking