Three poems by Rae Armantrout

“Moment to Moment,” “Somewhere,” and “The Difference”

Partly, a volume of new and selected poems, is due later this year.
  • Partly, a volume of new and selected poems, is due later this year.

Moment to Moment

for Wallace Stevens

  • 1
  • Orange
  • poppy-speckled glass
  • vase alone
  • on a shelf,
  • neck twisted
  • to one side
  • like nothing else
  • in this guest room,
  • you organize
  • nothing.
  • 2
  • Overbearing,
  • that sleek leaf,
  • a yacht
  • on a stalk,
  • its long sharp prow
  • and curved gunwale
  • flanges,
  • the metaphorical
  • sum of itself


  • If I look down, a ferry is always
  • docking or pulling away from the shore.
  • I am not always aware of these goings on
  • anymore than I am my own breathing,
  • but, when I do take note,
  • the sense of overseeing this step
  • in a process that’s both
  • open-ended and fixed
  • fills me with a vague dread
  • while passengers,
  • whether boarding or landing,
  • may feel they are finally
  • getting somewhere

The Difference

  • You worry about the past;
  • I’ll worry about the future.
  • Two calico opossums
  • mate, bite, screech
  • behind the gas grill.
  • You tell everyone about this:
  • premonition? confession?
  • I’d like to demonstrate
  • the way
  • I can split
  • any difference.
  • In dreams
  • I find the evidence and yell,
  • “What’s this?”

Rae Armantrout has published 12 books of poetry. Her most recent collection, Itself, was published in 2015. That same year, her 2013 book, Just Saying, translated into Italian by Paolo Rigo, won the Mario Luzi International Poetry Prize. In 2015, she was also awarded the Levinson Prize for best poems in Poetry Magazine. Versed (2009) received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Partly, a volume of new and selected poems, will appear in 2016. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, such as: Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (2013) and The Best of the Best American Poetry: 1988–2012 (2013).

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