The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues
SEPT 2023 Issue




Now packages flocked
to our porches.

We paid, of course,
on a daily basis

from accounts we never saw,
which waxed and waned like—

what else but the moon—
that sometime scimitar?


We went to the zoo
to collect our father’s head,

the only thing left of him
after he’d jumped or fallen
into the lion’s enclosure.

To be discreet,
employees placed it

in a cardboard box
depicting a child’s globe.


Now do urn!

A tulip’s
bespoke petals
loosely overlap
to form


Just let me say “pebble
in the crack.”

I know my time
is limited.

Let me say tongued
columbine bells
thrust up

into the crown
of the potted
red maple.

I won’t keep you long.

I just want to say
a white moth skips
over summer lawns

like she had someplace
to be


Have you forgotten something important?

Zero was introduced
in ancient Mesopotamia
to make calculation easier.

If a lover appears in your dream,
is he/she a place holder?


Zero exists
to separate digits.

Please select
the photos in which
artisanal gold mining

Do you know the difference
between disturbing
and inappropriate?


Zero was conceived
in ancient India
to represent the mind
at rest.


 “I can hear my mind talking,”
she whispers,

half delighted, half frightened
as if her toys had come to life.


“I like someone
to watch me
while I pretend.”


There are sacrifice zones
around power plants.

How large are they?

I suspect we’re in one now,
but there’s no knowing

Opinions waft.


I drink coffee so the day won’t start—

however “day” differs from this,
taking  small sips, reading sentences

heel to toe,
toe to heel.


“Nature lawyers up,”
the paper quips

as if nature
were a corporate

about to get off.


If you connect the dots,
there are people
in the night sky

going about their business
much as we did.


Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout’s most recent book is Finalists (Wesleyan 2022) about which David Woo, writing for the Poetry Foundation, says it “emanates the radiant astonishment of living thought.” Her 2018 book, Wobble, was a finalist for the National Book Award that year. Her other books with Wesleyan include Partly: New and Selected Poems, Just Saying, Money Shot and Versed. In 2010 Versed won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and The National Book Critics Circle Award.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues