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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

To each his own
severance package.

The Inca
hacked large stones
into the shapes of
nearby peaks.

 

            2

The eerie thing
is that ghosts don’t exist.

Rows
of clear droplets
hang from stripped twigs

instead.

 

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.

poem
The ghosts swarm.
They speak as one
person. Each
loves you. Each
has left something
undone.

          •

Did the palo verde
blush yellow
all at once?

Today's edges
are so sharp

they might cut
anything that moved.

          •

The way a lost 
word

will come back
unbidden.

You're not interested
in it now,