Veil

By Rae Armantrout b. 1947 Rae Armantrout
The doll told me   
to exist.

It said, “Hypnotize yourself.”

It said time would be   
transfixed.

                     *

Now the optimist

sees an oak   
shiver

and a girl whiz by   
on a bicycle

with a sense of pleasurable   
suspense.

She budgets herself   
with leafy

prestidigitation.

I too
am a segmentalist.

                     *

But I’ve dropped   
more than an armful

of groceries or books

downstairs
into a train station.

An acquaintance says   
she colors her hair

so people will help her   
when this happens.

To refute her argument,   
I must wake up

and remember my hair’s   
already dyed.

                     *

As a mentalist,   
I must suffer

lapses

then repeat myself   
in a blind trial.

I must write   
punchlines only I   
can hear

and only after   
I’ve passed on

Rae Armantrout, “Veil” 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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