Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Money Shot, Rae Armantrout


Everything will be made new.

The precision coupling
and uncoupling,

the studied
and folding

have already begun.

Stillness of gauzy curtains

and the sound
of distant vacuums.

Prolonged sigh
of traffic

and the downward
curve of fronds.

The spray
of all possible paths.

Define possible.
In her tenth trade poetry collection, Money Shot (Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2011), San Diego poet Rae Armantrout proves yet again she is an author of poems of unusual stillness (not necessarily calm) and unusual pauses (while never hesitation).
Quick, before you die,

the exact shade
of this hotel carpet. (“Exact”)
From what I've seen of Armantrout's poetry collections (which have been, admittedly, only been the most recent three of her ten) are built as books of small moments; moments compiled into short poems, which are then compiled into book-length structures. The poems in her Money Shot ask questions of authority and the self, of how the United States/west is considered and not considered, within and without its borders; of market concerns, and the “'great recession' of 2008-2009” (as the inside blurb tells us). Money Shot, in the still hush of polished steps, provides astute questions and commentary from the immediacy of Armantrout's surroundings, including news stories of “Ponzi schemes” and the constant deluge of CNN. These are poems engaged with the world, and constructed through strict attention, in poems composed through a combination of discovery and an incredible level of patient, articulate and considered craft.

After John Milton

Our light is never spent.
Is spent.

Thus have we scooped out
maceration reservoirs.

We will blaze forth
what remains
as pixels.

Great angels
fly at our behest
between towers,

along axons and dendrites,

so that things stand
as they stand

in the recruited present.

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