Maryann Corbett


Statistical Ruminations Upon a High-Numbered Anniversary

Bayesian, schmayesian.
Staying together for
so many years smashes
all sorts of laws

these days. We’ve pondered some
odd correlations, but
nary a one of them’s
really a cause.

How have we managed this
still-being-married? By
kismet, or luck, or the
will of the gods?

Honey, don’t meddle with
Let’s just be grateful we’re
beating the odds.

The Contemporary Poet Grapples with the Problem of Image

Dear Dana,
You tell us that poetry started as charm*
(the Latin is carmen), recited to lull and entrance.
You want us all out there intoning? Forgive my alarm,
but bard-chanting clashes with blazers and neatly pressed pants

and everything else in my law-office wardrobe. I lack
the footwear of Stallings! the deep velvet jackets of Lehr!
the nerve and panache for great getup. I’m dumpy in black,
I’m short, and I’m skinny. And don’t get me started on hair.

I make a more credible shaman if no one can see me.
I’m suitably vatic and scop-like on pages, in ink
where you’re free to imagine the manic white mane of a Heaney,
and there isn’t a crowd to encumber your quest of a drink

while they stand around looking a lot less enchanted than dis-.
So I’m fine with your deep ruminations on magic and meter,
but the poems still work if you don’t see my mystical Phyz
(which saves me the price of new duds and the rent on a theater).

*See Gioia’s essay in the 20th Anniversary Issue of The Dark Horse.

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, Minnesota, with her husband John Corbett, who teaches statistics and math.