Two Poems by Maryann Corbett


Against Food Styling

Lies, all lies!
Now we know better than to trust our eyes,

now that we’ve eyed
the video clips that tell the sleazy truth from the inside:

In which the bright-eyed specialist expounds
techniques for lifting pancake stacks aloft with cardboard rounds.

In which museum putty
enacts impossible angles. In which berries, slightly slutty

in glycerin-spritzed moistness, sweet and blue,
repose unsinkably on milk-white beds of Elmer’s Glue.

In which that shapely dollop on the pumpkin pie, that dream
of mouth feel, is a floof of shaving cream.

One gags, even to think
how they offend the nostrils with their petrochemical stink,

that motor oil on waffles, and that dish detergent
urging the beer into a fizz more urgent . . .

Enough. Let the cold light
of bare bulbs in our kitchens set our thinking right:

Images lie. Aromas understand.

Trust only the sliced onion’s stab to the eyeball,
and the knife in your own hand.


The Bureaucrat in Retirement: A Drive-By

Still there, gray granite face unchanged:
the Building Formerly Known as Work.

Stop in and visit? Harder now,
doomed to a dearth of place-to-park

and a wealth of whiz-kid faces, lit
with the bright fire of the latest trouble,

bursting to brag that what you loved
has now been pick-axed into rubble.

Well. Beep-beep! Green light. Drive on.
The screen at home’s a better bet.

Wisps of your once-important self
cling to a fraying internet.


About the Author

Maryann Corbett is the author of five books of poetry, most recently In Code (Able Muse, 2020). Her work has won the Richard Wilbur Award and the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize. Her poems, essays, and translations have been published on both sides of the Atlantic, in many journals and in an assortment of anthologies including The Best American Poetry 2018. She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Post Image

Detail from Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Allegory of Summer, 1572

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