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American Life in Poetry: ‘Bakery of Lies’

By Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06

I’ve had my eye on Americans’ obsessions for more than 70 years and I can’t remember a time when public lying got as much attention as it does today. Attention yes, but consequences, no. I recently happened upon this clever poem about lying by Judith Askew. It’s from her book “On the Loose,” from Bass River Press, South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, and she, too, is from Massachusetts.

Bakery of Lies

My favorite is the cream puff lie,

the kind inflated with hot air,

expanded to make an heroic-sized story.

Another is the cannoli, a long lie,

well-packed with nutty details,

lightly wrapped in flakey truth.

A macaroon isn’t a little white lie,

but it’s covered

with self-serving coconut.

The apple tart carries slices

of sour gossip, only

slightly sweetened with truth.

Then there’s the napoleon,

an Iago lie of pernicious intent,

layer upon layer of dark deceit.

Poem copyright 2016 by Judith Askew, from “On the Loose” (Bass River Press, 2016) and reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by the Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.

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