Maryann Corbett: Neuro Lit

 
Market research is already doing its bit:
It weighs, titrates, and calipers every FM radio hit—

clocks the rate of the riff, graphs the catch in the voice—
to learn what candy lures the listening choice,

what brews the brain-pan's gin,
what strokes and whispers pleasure, and pulls us in.

And it's only a matter of time
till we put the screws to word and phrase, to rhyme and lack of rhyme

for an algorithm. Ah, then we'll know where we are:
two micrograms of mother, a dollop of wallop, a quarter-twist of scar—

and there's the poem. No angst required to find it.
In fact, no mind behind it.

Just words, milking adrenaline. Juicing endorphins.
No poet needed. None need hear the scrape of spoons in the metal bowls of orphans

or translate the tremors of crowds, the fists hurling defiance.
If we have it down to a science,

why mess with actual Sex and Death and the rest of the heavy hitters?
Flip me the word; switch on the neurotransmitters.

So what if there's no tormented lyric soul to suffer, no sensitive heart to feel?
How do I know you're real?