Attention

By Rae Armantrout b. 1947 Rae Armantrout
Ventriloquy
is the mother tongue.

Can you colonize rejection   
by phrasing your request,
                                       “Me want?”

Song: “I’m not a baby.   
         Wa, Wa, Wa.

         I’m not a baby.   
         Wa, Wa, Wa.

         I’m crazy   
         like you.”

The “you”
in the heart of   
molecule and ridicule.

Marks resembling   
the holes

in dead leaves
define the thing (moth wing).

That flutter
of indifference,
                         feigned?

But if lapses   
are the dens

strategy aims   
to conceal,

then you don’t know   
what you’re asking.

Rae Armantrout, “Attention” from Veil: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2001 by Rae Armantrout. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Veil: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2001)

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Poet Rae Armantrout b. 1947

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Rae  Armantrout

Biography

Rae Armantrout, one of the founding members of the West Coast group of Language poets, stands apart from other Language poets in her lyrical voice and her commitment to the interior and the domestic. Her short-lined poems are often concerned with dismantling conventions of memory, pop culture, science, and mothering, and these unsparing interrogations are often streaked with wit. “You can hold the various elements of my poems in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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