Startle Reflex

By Rae Armantrout


Ford’s robodogs
roam the factory floor
and enjoy a good


People are startled to discover
that their inner monologues
are ghost-written.


A sentence that once made sense
and now does not
appears haunted.


Experts are surprised to learn
sparrows across North America
have changed their tune.


“Let’s just make it to the end.”


Everyone’s riveted
by the shock

of the disaster victims,

the way they search
for words.

“Startle Reflex” from Finalists © 2022 by Rae Armantrout. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Used with permission.