Published on Academy of American Poets (

Beauty Supply

Sheaves of wheat in cement relief
Supply the beauties of Archer Ave.

Past the scaffolded brick church spire
We turn on the vacant corner lot

Through winds worthy of Hopkins (Gerard M.)
New words — Alexus — Everything must go

“Include everything in poetry”
Even the things you think are nothing

Like the way the new white snowflake
Decoration waves its wild tentacles
     against the high blue sky

    loop and angle
Black graffiti palimpsests the
    yellow official sign of Danger
in bus stairwell

She stares at me unsmiling
    with cold Northface
Notices me writing but says nothing
    with her eye

The corner lot I used to chart or cheat in its ‘vacancies’
Configures new blown trash and walk through paths

Subjected to random search

Has grown a mouth of gravel
Constructed in a cone
Surrounded by temporary fence
    Of blue nailed board

Now on Roti Avenue
Cutlery & Wang Quai

Amalgam of chairs,
Jamaica Island Center


Copyright © 2013 by Lee Ann Brown. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on October 18, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

About this Poem

"'Beauty Supply' is a poem written as an accumulation of commutes to the school I teach at in Queens. The poem weaves interior thoughts, with exterior, experiential visuals through the window of a moving bus. Foregrounded is a language-sensitive tendency to 'sign-reading mode,' filtering real phrases flashing by, such as 'Beauty Supply' on a shop which sells wholesale to salons, yet transformed. Hungry for beauty in an urban landscape, the eye and the mind creates it, collage style, all in a whirlwind of motion and wind, with echoes of recent readings and overhearings mixed with the whirling signs and sights of Jamaica Center."
—Lee Ann Brown


Lee Ann Brown

Lee Ann Brown was born in Japan and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is the author of In the Laurels, Caught (Fence Books, 2013), which won the 2012 Fence Modern Poets Series Award, as well as Crowns of Charlotte (Carolina Wren Press, 2013), The Sleep That Changed Everything (Wesleyan, 2003), and Polyverse (Sun & Moon Press, 2000), which won the 1996 New American Poetry Competition.

Date Published: 2013-10-18

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