Friday, September 14, 2007

Jeanne Marie Beaumont

If You Wish To Be Removed From This List


You must be more careful. You must wash your hands up to your elbows and dry them with a linen towel. You must say please. You must swallow your lumpy medicine. You must draw a card and return it to the deck. You must deny deny deny. You must put it in writing. You must write your name on a cup and pee in it. You must read Moby Dick. You must read Moby Dick again. You must perform forty hours of public penance. You must eat your spinach and finish your milk. You must shave. You must do windows. You must name names. You must demonstrate your ability to parallel park. You must share. You must lock the door and leave the key under the mat. You must change diapers. You must sift the dry ingredients and fold them into the wet ingredients. You must learn to work around the pain. You must drop a sack of unmarked bills in the trash bin by the sweetgum tree. You must forget what you just saw. You must produce your passport when asked: now. You must slip into something more uncomfortable. You must revise. You must, for your own protection, put on the blindfold. You must reset your clock. You must let the dog lie at the foot of the bed. You must pay the piper and leave a generous tip; use exact change. You must burn the dark letters. You must bail some water. You must forgive your mother. You must march to the river's edge. You must stop crying. You must give away your possessions to the poor. You must soak in bleach. You must pledge allegiance. You must summon the energy to clear the last hurdle. You must be very very brave. You must click your heels three times. Wish to be removed from this list, moved from this list, emptied of all words.




Fancy That Does Not Do But Is


                     (Dagobert Peche 1887-1923, Neue Galerie)


The box is a bird. Jeweled, impractical.
        The elongated Lady Chair
                not for a lady, is a lady
as the desk is a castle.

How many flowers are too many flowers?
        A scarf field. A wall field.
                Solve no problem.
The bird is a box.

In such elaborately framed mirrors
        you would never be the fairest
                would be, in fact, never more
than plain

but here nothing is dulled
        by the chilly touch of facts,
                why a kind curator has hung them
too high to peer into.

As for the exquisite bird box
        we bow to behold it.
                Beside it a silver pumpkin
with gilt interior

viewable only to its occupant.
        A container detains what it retains.
                Attention. A little keeper.
For pleasure

as we walked in the snow
        to get here. Crossed the park.
                Crossed the century
weary of utility

to dream of a self
        detained in an extravagance
                that has no earthly use
for us.




Poor Shoddy


                     shŏd´ ē [origin unknown]


She’s odd.

She’s nobody and knows it.
She shudders, all shook up
               in her shabby body
               her shunned body.
Can’t shed odors of a shady past,
a shaggy dog story of shitty odds,
               a soggy shack, slipshod
               shanty ’mid the sodden sod.
A sure lock on schlocky. Come up short.
What’s sloppy is near ungodly,
               what’s odious should be shot.
               Should die. Should she? Shhh. . . 
Such damaged goods
the source of Schadenfreude.
               Shocking. Her show of shards.
               What a lot to shoulder.
Shut the shutters, shadow lady,
shut the shouting out
               (ah, but not the shame)
               the stab of an age-old jeer
that seems to call your name—
"Cheap shoes! Cheap shoes!"




Bantling Begins

                     bănt´lĭng [origin unknown]


With a fling: singapore slings at the bar,
linguini and big band, banter on a
banquette, lingering over brandy,
a bit of bling bling, bangles and dangling earrings,
bank on it, babe, an errant fling.

Blood bad as a bee & ant coupling—that sting.
Or when a banshee bangs a worldling,
a bandit beds a linguist,
or two battling bantam weights go at it.
Antler-bashing in the ring— ding!

And the offspring? Its bad parents banished,
can’t blame barely known bantling.
Not banned but rarely bandied,
Bundled in bunting, abandoned
on language’s back step:

        "babbling foundling,
        bound to banter soon—
        free to good home"



Jeanne Marie Beaumont is the author of Curious Conduct (BOA Editions) and Placebo Effects (Norton). New work is forthcoming in Court Green and Crab Orchard Review, and in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: 20th Annual Collection. She teaches in the Stonecoast MFA Program and at the 92nd Street Y, and is director of the Frost Place Seminar. She lives in Manhattan.