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About this poet

Alexandra Teague is the author of the poetry collections The Wise and Foolish Builders (Persea Books, 2015) and Mortal Geography (Persea Books, 2010), which which won the 2009 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry and the 2010 California Book Award. She is also the author of the novel The Principles Behind Flotation (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017). In 2011 she received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is an associate professor in the MFA program at the University of Idaho in Moscow and an editor for Broadsided Press.

Adjectives of Order

That summer, she had a student who was obsessed 
with the order of adjectives. A soldier in the South 
Vietnamese army, he had been taken prisoner when 

Saigon fell. He wanted to know why the order 
could not be altered. The sweltering city streets shook
with rockets and helicopters. The city sweltering 

streets. On the dusty brown field of the chalkboard, 
she wrote: The mother took warm homemade bread 
from the oven. City is essential to streets as homemade 

is essential to bread . He copied this down, but 
he wanted to know if his brothers were lost  before 
older, if he worked security at a twenty-story modern

downtown bank or downtown twenty-story modern.
When he first arrived, he did not know enough English 
to order a sandwich. He asked her to explain each part 

of Lovely big rectangular old red English Catholic
leather Bible. Evaluation before size. Age before color. 
Nationality before religion. Time before length. Adding 

and, one could determine if two adjectives were equal. 
After Saigon fell, he had survived nine long years 
of torture. Nine and long. He knew no other way to say this.

From Mortal Geography by Alexandra Teague. Copyright © 2010 by Alexandra Teague. Used by permission of Persea Books.

From Mortal Geography by Alexandra Teague. Copyright © 2010 by Alexandra Teague. Used by permission of Persea Books.

Alexandra Teague

Alexandra Teague

Alexandra Teague is the author of the poetry collections The Wise and Foolish Builders (Persea Books, 2015) and Mortal Geography (Persea Books, 2010), which which won the 2009 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry and the 2010 California Book Award.

by this poet

poem
Pulitzer Fountain, New York City
 
 
She has all the advantage. Two sculptors
for her single body. Bronze prepossession. Bare arms
muscled as if she plucked each apple in her basket, 
then scythed the reeds to weave the basket—heaping on peaches
poem
If the liver is the source of blood: if the liver is the source
of life: if the people live with blood, visceral, on the sidewalks; the news
ticker divining Police Kill:  the news ticker divining Supporters Shout;
 
if the
poem
Man in a chicken suit, you’re the only one today 
not selling beauty: 5th Avenue star-struck with Christmas,
three-story diamonds and flocks of ballerinas pirouetting
clockworking gears as if the Industrial Revolution
were a life-sized music box of desires and we’ve just