poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

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

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 was part of the first generation of Language poets on the West Coast. She is the author of Partly: New and Selected Poems, 2001–2015 (Wesleyan University Press, 2016); Itself (Wesleyan University Press, 2015).

by this poet

poem
We maintain a critical distance
from the sad spaniel gentlemen

in cravats
on the plaid duvet

at the Custom Hotel,
Los Angeles.

We are so over it.
We fly

from terminal
to terminal

almost endlessly.

We are almost
money.

We can wait
at high speed.
poem
The ghosts swarm.
They speak as one
person. Each
loves you. Each
has left something
undone.

          •

Did the palo verde
blush yellow
all at once?

Today's edges
are so sharp

they might cut
anything that moved.

          •

The way a lost 
word

will come back
unbidden.

You're not interested
in it now,
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 .
2