Maryann Corbett


Earworm Studies

Research suggests that the cure for earworm is distraction.

Its needle drags across your soul’s scratched vinyl
and skips. And skips. And skips. And skips. And skips.
Seizing you someplace cranial or spinal,
it drills you with its endless audio clips
on modes whereby the most innocuous song
can twist itself into a torture-screw:
a boy soprano fluting All is calm…,
“YMCA,” the theme from Scooby Doo—
They swell and pop, and swell again, and pop.
Be calm. The simplest way to make them stop
will drop in your hands like a sack of gold doubloons:
the kid writing with lipstick on a wall,
the sunk soufflé, the drunken midnight call,
the mice. Did you prefer the torture-tunes?

Maryann Corbett’s third book, Mid Evil, won the Richard Wilbur Award and was published in 2015 by the University of Evansville Press. Her poems, essays, and translations have appeared on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, American Life in Poetry, The Poetry Foundation, The Writer’s Almanac, and many other venues in print and online. Her work has won the Lyric Memorial Award and the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize. She lives in Saint Paul and works for the Minnesota Legislature.