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By Camille Rankine

In the new century,

we lose the art of many things.

 

For example, at the beep, I communicate

using the wrong machine.

 

I called to say we have two lives

and only one of them is real.

 

When the phone rings: you could be anybody.

In the evening: you are homeless

 

and hunting for good light, as safe a place

as any to make a bed for the night.

 

In both my lives, my nerves go bust.

I’m certain that I’m not

 

as I appear, that I’m a figment and

you’re not really here.

 

The struggle

is authenticity.

 

I have a message.

You must believe me.


Camille Rankine, "Symptoms of Prophecy" from Incorrect Merciful Impulses. Copyright © 2016 by Camille Rankine. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: Incorrect Merciful Impulses (Copper Canyon Press, 2016)

Poet Bio

Born in Portland, Oregon, poet Camille Rankine earned a BA at Harvard University and an MFA at Columbia University. She has served on the staff of the Cave Canem Foundation. She lives in New York City, where she teaches at and directs the Manhattanville College MFA program, serves as editorial director for the online literary journal The Manhattanville Review, and sings with the band Miru Mir. Rankine’s nimble, urgent poems are often concerned with landscape, history, and intimacy. 

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