Money Shot

Money Shot

by Rae Armantrout

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<P>The poems in Money Shot are forensic. Just as the money shot in porn is proof of the male orgasm, these poems explore questions of revelation and concealment. What is seen, what is hidden, and how do we know? Money Shot's investigation of these questions takes on a particular urgency because it occurs in the context of the suddenly revealed market manipulation and subsequent "great recession" of 2008–2009. In these poems, Rae Armantrout searches for new ways to organize information. What can be made manifest? What constitutes proof? Do we "know it when we see it"? Looking at sex, botany, cosmology, and death through the dark lens of "disaster capitalism," Armantrout finds evidence of betrayal, grounds for rebellion, moments of possibility, and even pleasure, in a time of sudden scarcity and relentless greed. This stunning follow-up to Versed—winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award—is a wonderfully stringent exploration of how deeply our experience of everyday life is embedded in capitalism.</P>

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819571311
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publication date: 01/01/2012
Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 92
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

<P>RAE ARMANTROUT is a professor of writing in the literature department at the University of California at San Diego, and the author of ten books of poetry.</P>

Read an Excerpt




Everything will be made new.

The precision coupling and uncoupling,

the studied blocking 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.


As if the space around each particle were filled with countless virtual particles.

* * *

And the Lord said,

"I am aware of weighing options,

of dither,

but the moment of decision has always remained obscure."

* * *

Which one of these do you most closely resemble?

Green stucco bungalow,

four brown gargoyles on its flat roof.

Beehive Diva;

Rehab Idol.

* * *



stinging jelly is a colony.

The Given

Given potassium enough and time,

the bougainvillea explodes

into pink papier-mâché boxes.

* * *

Availability bias.

* * *

"The risk of a bubble bursting

should be reflected in the price ..."

Money Shot


Able to exploit pre-


Per. In. Con.


I'm on a crowded ship and I've been served the wrong breakfast.

This small mound of soggy dough is not what I ordered.
"Why don't you just say
what you mean?"

Why don't I?



Wood under an oval lake of glass

across which this morning parallel wakes appear,

gleaming bits of skin, akin to happiness?


Of course, "across"
is metaphorical.
But light is violent and weightless.

Light is the wail of atoms pressed to touch.

It is reluctance

raised to absolute velocity

The Agent

The time travel paradox:
each passing thought
is the thinker.

Security cameras record each moment, but nobody can bear to watch.

We are now convinced that the past is populated by automatons.

The time-traveler is the one free agent.

When the present goes on record,

she is thinking,
"This feels wrong!"


We pray and the resurrection happens.

Here are the young again,

sniping and giggling,

tingly as ringing phones.

All we ask is that our thinking

sustain momentum,
identify targets.
The pressure in my lower back rising to be recognized as pain.

The blue triangles on the rug repeating.

Coming up,
a discussion on the uses of torture.

The fear that all this
will end.

The fear that it won't.


To come to in the middle

of a vibrato —
an "is" —

that some soprano's

struggling to sustain.


To be awake is to discriminate

among birdcalls,
fruits, seeds,
"to work one's way,"
as they say,



Just now breaking

into awareness,
falling forward,

hurtling inland in all innocence

Working Models

A diversity noir hit in which

a shape-shifter and a vampire

run rival drinking establishments.

* * *

Demons handle routine tasks

once we're in the zone,

tagged and released into the workforce.

* * *

Chicks are forced to find food

grains scattered among pebbles

while monitoring

for the appearance of a model predator.

* * *

Apes can mind-read.
Studies show

what makes us human is our tendency to point.

The Air

Our first gods were cartoon characters —

quirks and quarks
each dead wrong,

and immortal.


Silence is death and silence is dead-air.

Give a meme a hair-do.
Give it a split-screen.

Make it ask itself the wrong question.

Make it eat questions and grow long.

Service Record

If narrative is a police report,
a woman tells her companion,
"I had woke up at 11:03."

* * *

A mourning dove walks along a low wall with odd propriety, then flutters to the roots of a tree nearby where she picks up and drops small sticks. Her chest is dusky rose, her feet magenta.
There are intense black circles on her gray wings.

* * *

As if any stranger or strange thing might serve.

* * *

The only person on the street wears brown slacks and a polo shirt.
As he walks, he slashes downward,
now and then,
with what might almost be a quirt.

My dreams are cruel children. They taunt me.

I dream I'm telling a story the punch line of which will involve deviled eggs.
I'm saying some idiot asked me where they originated.
I found that funny or unfair.
Launched into this anecdote,
this dream, this poem,
I'm already worried. Now I see the pair I'm addressing have put their heads together,
hatching something,
over the crosswords.


Mary removed it,

from the brain case and placed it

on the metal stand.

* * *

I join myself to it, this

disinterested voice,

speaking as if in retrospect,

as if to another person.

* * *

I am not alone in this sentence.

A bee has landed,

on a purple tip of lavender,

pitching in wind.


If the good is momentum,
smooth passage,
putting all this behind you,

evil is the whirlpool,
the amplified local.

If good is the all-enduring intention that carries you to the future,

evil is the present's animal magnetism.

Wily one,
you disguise yourself here

to appear elsewhere in your own person.

"If only he would come again as he once was,"
they say.



The sun on my back like your hand

at night,
in bed,

and then again,

your hand on my back at night

like the sun has burned through

two-thirds of its fuel.


That you adorn the fallen.

That your heads and shafts are smooth,

a spongy marble.

That you are stock-still and spontaneous at once.

That you are one

(as we always thought we knew).

The Gift

You confuse the image of a fungus

with the image of a dick in my poem


and three days later a strange toadstool

(white shaft, black cap,
five inches tall)

appears between the flagstones in our path.

We note the invisible

web between fence posts

in which dry leaves are gently rocked.

Dream Life


Being light

green shell and flippers in the dark ocean,

she is single mindedness.

Then she renews herself freely as if shagged with pigeons.

She is tics and junkets perfected.

As sleep dissembles,
she enlivens creatures,

with conviction,

as if settling

some score.


I'm surprised at the smallness of the rooms I'm showing/

how a rumpled green bedspread

nearly fills one.

Then I'm drawn back to it,

sliding out and in

That we are composed of dimensionless points

which nonetheless spin,

which nonetheless exist in space,

which is a mapping of dimensions.

* * *

The pundit says the candidate's speech hit
"all the right points,"
hit "fed-up" but "not bitter,"
hit "not hearkening back."

* * *

Light strikes our eyes and we say, "Look there!"


Excerpted from "Money Shot"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Rae Armantrout.
Excerpted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

<P>Staging<BR>Colony<BR>The Given<BR>Money Shot<BR>Across<BR>The Agent<BR>Prayers<BR>Sustained<BR>Working Models<BR>The Air<BR>Service Record<BR>Deviled<BR>Measure<BR>Homer<BR>Fuel<BR>The Gift<BR>Dream Life<BR>Spin<BR>Bubble Wrap<BR>Recording<BR>Answer<BR>Day<BR>Eyes<BR>Ground<BR>Autobiography: Urn Burial<BR>Second Person<BR>Number<BR>Warble<BR>Division<BR>Soft Money<BR>Human<BR>Garden<BR>Advent<BR>Chain Chain Chain<BR>Following<BR>Spooks<BR>With<BR>Outage<BR>Border Perfection<BR>Duration<BR>Cancellation<BR>Procedures<BR>The Vesicle<BR>Errands<BR>Midnight<BR>Paragraph<BR>The Hang<BR>Vest<BR>Exact<BR>The Deal<BR>Concerning<BR>Objection<BR>Ends Meet<BR>Over<BR>Sway<BR>Along<BR>Hopscotch<BR>This Is<BR>Money Talks<BR>Long Green<BR>Win<BR>Real Article</P>

What People are Saying About This

Peter Nicholls

“The breathtaking economy of these deftly crafted poems yields high dividends indeed. This is the real thing, no doubt about it….”

From the Publisher

"In a world of real justice, all speech would be sifted in Rae Armantrout's gold pan. In what may be her best book yet, the poems of Money Shot sort our sorry tropes and reveal the fool's gold with which we've smitten ourselves once again."—Susan Wheeler, author of Ledger and Assorted Poems

"The breathtaking economy of these deftly crafted poems yields high dividends indeed. This is the real thing, no doubt about it."—Peter Nicholls, author of George Oppen and the Fate of Modernism

Susan Wheeler

"In a world of real justice, all speech would be sifted in Rae Armantrout's gold pan. In what may be her best book yet, the poems of Money Shot sort our sorry tropes and reveal the fool's gold with which we've smitten ourselves once again."
Susan Wheeler, author of Ledger and Assorted Poems

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