Issue 27 – 2016 – Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout



So the problem we pose
is how to create an intelligent
and then prevent it
from destroying this world?


“Content monitoring
that required the AI’s
intentional states
to be transparent
might not be feasible
for all architectures.”


A long green straw
stuck in the ground

with two ears (leaves)

on either side
at intervals


What we meant
by “listening stations”

and when we began
to mean this.


Perhaps its goal would be
to have “thoughts”
pass through its “head”
so it could record them.


“Preparedness is critical.”
“Kiss all hope goodbye.”
“A friend wants you to like it.”



Small white lights
twined around white

dead sticks
under a glass dome

flash –
like getting an idea

was the idea.


Like thinking
I want to fall asleep,

each night coming so soon
after the last,

and hosting a string
of tedious dreams

like trying to get back
to my office


I head 
back in
to clear it

my head


My Bad Self

“Superior,” as in
I feel superior

to the hunched,
hobbling woman

with the fixed smile
walking in front of me.

With the beatific,
mysterious smile —

intended to deflect pity?
It’s not working!

And, what’s worse,
it’s not necessary.

My gaze hovers
then rebounds,

spiteful as Tinkerbell



“It is extremely difficult to explain,”
says the astronomer,
“why the sky is not more

why the far sides
of the universe
are mirror images
of one another

(while we who’re packed
meme to meme
are so often
out of sync)


All those I reconstruct
so faithfully
in dreams

in order
to defend myself
to somebody


Some claim space
grew exponentially
between them
without disturbing them 
in the least 



Rae Armantrout’s most recent books include Itself (2015), Just Saying (2013), Money Shot (2011), Versed, which won the National Books Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Award. In 2016, Wesleyan University Press also released Partly: New and Selected Poems (2001-2015).