Rae Armantrout (Climate Change, Eco-activism, Whisperings of Social Justice)

Rae Armantrout (born April 13, 1947) is an American poet generally associated with the Language poets. She has published ten books of poetry and has also been featured in a number of major anthologies. Armantrout currently teaches at the University of California, San Diego, where she is Professor of Poetry and Poetics. Armantrout was awarded the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award for her book Versed published by the Wesleyan University Press, which had also been nominated for the National Book Award.[1] The book later received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her poetry, including an award in poetry from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2007 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008.





We were smart to conflate

time with space

in metaphors

so long ago.

As I recall,

time passed quickly

going downstream

in the gondolas.

Us playing tourist

made the days seem

like bits of local color.

We never saw

the houses collapse.

That was before our time

And after.








Blessed, flippant

the birds zip

and chatter,

each rephrasing

its own phrase


(“The authentic slapback,”

it says on the label.)

“Well, well, well,”

chimes one out there.



Loopy and clear,

my writing

in old journals---

now hurried, ragged.

What’s the rush?

Letters missing, thoughts


in the blue air.






To list objects

as you come upon them

takes a lot of faith—

but faith in what?



One red stone

amid the gray cement cobble.

Dog yapping in one

empty front yard.

Light on one leaf

amid a shiny throng.



The trick

is to recognize a thought

you’ve had before

and mark it.

If you can’t do that,

you’re lost?



Union Slough


through brown sedge.






To present as,

identify with

the breathing space

between the big


where nothing

much happens, but

anything still could.



Let the cloud

stay where it is—

two eye sockets

near the bottom,

one closing,

one enlarging


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