My New Favorite Rae Armantrout Poem

Rereading “Versed” for the first time since she won the Pulitzer I’ve decided that this is my new favorite poem from her :


What if I were turned on by seemingly innocent words such as “scumble,” “pinky,” or “extrapolate?”

What if I maneuvered conversation in the hope that others would pronounce these words?

Perhaps the excitement would come from the way the other person touched them lightly and carelessly with his tongue.

What if “of” were such a hot button?

“Scumble of bushes.”

What if there were a hidden pleasure
in calling one thing
by another’s name?

-Rae Armantrout

click here for an audio version