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Four Poems
A Selected Text from Conjunctions:70, Sanctuary: The Preservation Issue
In Brief

“Use the Crown Club Card
to see Justice League,”

he, she, it says.

Let the Mona Lisa stand
for private jokes,

passing thoughts, all
you never knew

about your parents.
Rope her off.

You’ve done that?
What about the rest?


I drift off

during ancient mega-floods
scouring the scablands.


New genre:

the faux selfie shot,
frozen mugging

for no camera.


Holding Patterns


Holding any pose
is a pain numbed
by long habit.

In this way,

I am sister

to the ridged gourd

and the cracked, wooden

But what of the dog
full of mild


“Unlike many of us,
no one

has seen anything
like what’s going on
right now,”

you say to the cameras
you’ve managed to capture.


If this were your last thought,
how long could you

hang on to it

before you saw
that it was holding

in its
weak fist?


The Reach
—For Renee and Sasha

Now is born again.

Demanding as always,
more sensitive than belief.

She is reckoning the distance
from what is not yet

quite herself


no one can tell her
what’s dissolving.

But now it’s David, now it’s Kathy,
now it’s Tom.

She doesn’t speak our language.
She does not mean it.
She does not mean she.

She is sending out runners or
putting out feelers.

We have manufactured animals
for her to reach.

Was this what she wanted?



A raven marches straight down
that pitched roof

as if on a mission.



in birds or babies
seems amusing


The guy walking down the main drag with his pack and bedroll
has a clear purpose—to find someplace

more protected and claim it

before nightfall.

Not that I envy him;
I don’t mean that.

I mean that the notions of my neighbors

in these spruced up or dilapidated houses
with their garden gnomes, stubby windmills,
and crosses

are the fossilized remains

of his quest.

Rae Armantrout’s Wobble was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award and Conjure was a finalist for the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry (both Wesleyan University Press). Her newest collection, Finalists, is also forthcoming from Wesleyan in the spring of 2022.