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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.

Late American Aubade

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 kept 
on winding. If. And Wish Upon. And shopping bag. And you
with your wind-ruffled feathers and flyers, pleading 
for our primitive hungers. That inelegant grease spot 
and crunch to remind us. The mannequins don’t 
even have bones. I’ll never have a purse nice enough
to hold a wallet worth the money to buy the purse
at Barney’s. And what does it matter? There are drumsticks.
I’m a vegetarian. You are no masked creature worth hugging
for a picture. No Minnie. No marble nymph of Beauty
in pigeon net outside the library:  old yet ever new eternal voice 
and inward word. As if we hear it clear in the gizzard: 
Beauty is God and love made real. You will be this beautiful
if. You are the rock in the crowd-raked garden of traffic,
just past the corner of jaguar-made-of-dazzle and flapper
reading Shakespeare bound in bardic sparkles. Your yellow,
a scant flag to claim us:  ordinary strange as holy chickens
in a gilded cage in Spain. Their ancestors, heralds 
of a miracle. A huge mechanical owl recites Madonna 
in a window Baz Luhrmann designed since February. 
It takes all year for a miracle with this many moving parts.
All of us in a rush to wait for the catastrophe of personality 
to seem beautiful again. As if this is the best we can hope for:  
seeming to ourselves—like panhandlers dressed as Buddhist 
monks the real monks are protesting. Asked for her secret, 
the model for Beauty said, The dimples on my back
have been more valuable to me than war bonds. Asked for proof, 
one orange-robed woman said, I can’t tell you where, but I do
have a temple. Beaked promise of later lunch, catastrophe
of unbeautiful feather, how can we eat the real you
that you are not? Which came first? The shell to hatch 
desire, or desire? Which skin holds my glittering temple? 
 

Copyright © 2016 by Alexandra Teague. “Late American Aubade” originally appeared in Cimarron Review. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 by Alexandra Teague. “Late American Aubade” originally appeared in Cimarron Review. Reprinted with permission of the author.

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
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
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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;