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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

    1

The best part
is when we’re tired
of it all
in the same degree,

a fatigue we imagine
to be temporary,
and we lie near each other,
toes touching.

What’s done is done,
we don’t say,
to begin our transaction,

each letting go of something

poem

            1

To each his own
severance package.

The Inca
hacked large stones
into the shapes of
nearby peaks.

 

            2

The eerie thing
is that ghosts don’t exist.

Rows
of clear droplets
hang from stripped twigs

instead.

 

poem

City of the future
in which each subway station’s stairs
lead to the ground floor
of a casino/
mall.

            —

What counts
is the role
defined for each piece
by a system of rules saying
how it can move,
not the stuff
the piece is made of.