by Rae Armantrout

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?


by Rae Armantrout


Rock eaten

to familiar shapes –

heads cocked

on jagged spines.


How many

orange, pink, white

rock pinnacles

are visible from here?


is that number

plus distance,

as if “again”

could be made manifest.


“Nature” was a 19th century fad,

cousin to eugenics.

In the 21st century,

America’s soft core’s



On how many bookstore shelves,

lovely, fanged teenagers,

red-eyed, smeared with blood.

Sam Hodgson is a freelance photojournalist and contributor to Voice of San Diego. You can contact him at and check out his work...

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