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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 24, 2017.
About this Poem 

“The first four lines of this poem popped up on my computer screen. They made me think about identity and agency. The ‘blips’ are electrons in a circuit, but they’re people too.”
—Rae Armantrout

The Runaround

    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
 

Copyright © 2017 by Rae Armantrout. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 24, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Rae Armantrout. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 24, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

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
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
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
We love our cat
for her self
regard is assiduous
and bland,

for she sits in the small
patch of sun on our rug
and licks her claws
from all angles

and it is far
superior
to "balanced reporting"

though, of course,
it is also
the very same thing.