Jeanne Marie Beaumont
grew up in the Philadelphia area and moved to New York City in 1983. She holds an MFA in Writing from
Columbia University and has authored several collections of poetry.
The selection below is from Placebo Effects, winner of the 1996
National Poetry Series, selected by William Matthews. Ms. Beaumont has taught at Rutgers University
in New Brunswick, NJ, and at The Frost Place, where she was recently named director for the Frost Place Seminar.
She also teaches at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York City.
Links to additional work by this fabulous poet and
her personal website follow.
(Bio current as of January, 2007)
Soil is for planting in,
The donor is the third person
in the triangle.
Sty and style are not related;
neither are braid and bread
except in the bakery window
where they twist into temptation.
But some words like river and rival
surprisingly are, and more obviously,
void and avoid.
II. Multiple Choice
The woman on the bus has a ______ around her head.
a. braid b. style c. void
The man who sells his sperm to pay for art school is a ______.
a. river b. donor c. rival
Their child was taught to ______ the oven.
a. rival b. soil c. avoid
She still liked to put her hands in the ______.
a. bread b. dirt c. river
The pigs, meanwhile, seem content in their ______.
a. style b. sty c. void
III. Conversationally Speaking
The river enriches the soil for planting.
The river is the donor of riches. The sty, however,
is full of dirt (the pigs might see this differently --
planting their feet, their snouts). The pig
is the ultimate donor of pork, which is to say
it has no rival. We avoid thinking of it this way.
We avoid the (thought of the) sty; hence the separation
from lunchmeat. We like better the smell
of bread (daily, given, whole) done up in the style
of a braid, pure product of the soil.
It is wise to avoid the void, which is nothing really
like the river, the sty, or the emptied bakery
window (its closest rival). Instead
we could relax by the river, picnic on meat
and bread, or just bread--pigtails are kin
to braids--since eating pork's gone out of style.
Copyright © 1997 Jeanne Marie Beaumont
From Placebo Effects
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.