The Runaround

Rae Armantrout - 1947-

    1

We encountered a problem

sending
a command

to the program.

Did I say that
aloud?

I’ve broken out
in imps.


     *

To be a blip
in a circuit

and to know it,
to relish

this knowledge
in your private

moments
as all moments

are gated
and switched.


    2

When I mentioned hatred
I was not thinking

                                           of you,

but you’d best not break
our momentum,

the thrill we get
from our own self-
loathing,

that guilty snigger
running round the room
 

More by Rae Armantrout

Upper World

If sadness
is akin to patience,

                  we're back!


Pattern recognition
was our first response

to loneliness.

Here and there were like
one place.

But we need to triangulate,
find someone to show.


     *

There's a jolt, quasi-electric,
when one of our myths
reverts to abstraction.

Now we all know
every name's Eurydice, 
briefly returned
from blankness

and the way back
won't bear scrutiny.

High voices
over rapid-pulsing synthesizers
intone, "without you" --

which is soothing.

We prefer meta-significance:

the way the clouds exchange
white scraps
in glory.

No more wishes.

No more bungalows
behind car-washes
painted the color of
swimming pools

Yonder

       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 .

So who’ll meet me over yonder?
I don’t recognize the place names.

Or I do, but they come
from televised wars.

Two, Three

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 a small bulldog –
followed by the eyes
of an invisible third person.

The Trinity was born
from what we know
of the bitter 

symbiosis of couples.
Can we reduce echo’s sadness
by synchronizing our speeches?

Is it the beginning or end
of real love
when we pity a person

because, in him,
we see ourselves?

Related Poems

Sojourns in the Parallel World

We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension—though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it "Nature"; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be "Nature" too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal—then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we've been, when we're caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
—but we have changed, a little.