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About this Poem 

"This poem brings together my ongoing obsessions with popular media and contemporary physics. It begins with the vacuous but relentless banter of a local news team, then centers on the two meanings of the word conceit: an inflated self-conception and (in literature) an exaggerated comparison. It ends with what might be an exaggerated comparison, 'Conceit/is the vacuum energy.'  (The vacuum or 'dark' energy is the repulsive force in empty space thought to be driving the expansion of the universe, and here, metaphorically, the patter of these television personalities.)"
—Rae Armantrout

A Conceit

Local anchors list the ways
viewers might enjoy tomorrow.

One says, “Get some great....”, but
that seems like a stretch.

The other snickers, meaning,
“Where were you going with that?”

Like you thought


     *

Like you could defend 
vanity

in the sense of
idle conceit,

vacuous self-
absorption,

doing whatever
it takes to

whatever
because,

really.


     *

As if to say,

“Conceit
is the vacuum energy.” 

Copyright © 2013 by Rae Armantrout. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on October 30, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Rae Armantrout. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on October 30, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout was born in Vallejo, California, in 1947, and was part of the first generation of Language poets on the West Coast. She is the author of Partly: New and Selected Poems, 2001–2015 (Wesleyan University Press, 2016); Itself (Wesleyan University Press, 2015).

by this poet

poem

            1

Money is talking
to itself again

in this season’s
bondage
and safari look,

its closeout camouflage.

Hit the refresh button
and this is what you get,

money pretending
that its hands are tied.

 

            2

On a billboard by the

poem
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
2
poem

City of the future
in which each subway station’s stairs
lead to the ground floor
of a casino/
mall.

            —

What counts
is the role
defined for each piece
by a system of rules saying
how it can move,
not the stuff
the piece is made of.