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Rae Armantrout Four Entanglements


Let’s say the universe
is made of strings
that “vibrate” or trash
in an effort

to minimize the area
that is the product
of their length
and their duration in time.


Let’s call contraction
or “pleasure.”


You’ll step forward,
I know,

into the contracting

ready to like

How far will you get?

You’ll be far ahead
and distracted.

By what?

I won’t see it.

I’ll be running to catch up.

I’ll know you
by your willingness.

I won’t believe

that what’s continual
is automatic


That we are composed
of dimensionless points

which nonetheless spin,

which nonetheless exist
in space,

which is a mapping
of dimensions.


The pundit says
the candidates’s speech
“all the right points,”

hit “fed-up” but “not bitter,”
hit “not hearkening back.”


Light strikes our eyes
and we say, “Look there!”


Why is it that
for it

to be in-
finitely large

is terrific,
but to be

infinitely small
is just


The thought
of a smaller

bit inside
each bit

goes nowhere

has symmetry
going on

and on
about it.

Then there’s our model
in which

the fundamentals
are sound,

impenetrable nubs


So that nothing
rhymes with much–

or starts to
and thinks better of it.


Ending with “like”
or “so.”

Ending with “as if”


Virtual particles
carry the current

Rae Armantrout’s most recent books, Versed, Money Shot, Just Saying, Itself, Partly: New and Selected Poems, Entanglements, (a chapbook selection of poems in conversation with physics), and Wobble were published by Wesleyan University Press. Wobble, a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award, was selected by Library Journal as one of the best poetry books of 2018. In 2010 her book Versed won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and The National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2007 Armantrout received a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. Her poems have appeared in many anthologies and journals including Poetry,Conjunctions, Lana Turner, The Nation, The New Yorker, Bomb, Harper’s,The Paris Review, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology, The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine, several volumes of The Best American Poetry, etc. Her Paris Review interview in “The Art of Poetry” series will appear in December, 2019. She is recently retired from UC San Diego where she was professor of poetry and poetics. She now lives in the Seattle area.
This series was selected from Entanglements, published by Wesleyan University Press in 2017.
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