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Michael Teig

Michael Teig was born and raised in 1968 in Franklin, Pennsylvania. He holds a BA in English from Oberlin College and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His first book, Big Back Yard (BOA Editions, 2003), was selected by Stephen Dobyns to receive the inaugural A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Teig is a founding editor of jubilat, a twice-yearly international poetry journal. The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he works as a freelance writer and editor.

By This Poet


Excluded from Frescoes

Thank you for the gift. Never have I seen
a more thoughtful tea-strainer.
For you I'm striking a silent movie pose.

For instance, I step out and take in the moon
like a tourist. It puts tiny gloves on the ferns.
It's bigger than life size.

I've a room here just for sitting. If I want
I fetch some music to slap me around. I've three other rooms--
in this way the house resembles a cow's stomach.

I have the feeling we'll be excluded from frescoes
despite the fitful way you loved me, Alice,
I'm confident we're finally on our own.

If I need to think of you and I do
I let telephone wires paraphrase the landscape
till there's just a city block, a sooty building,

you settled into a chair with your legs and hair up
and your face adjusting to that new weather
right after the TV's been turned off. Hello.

Just past the hill here is the truckstop
borealis. This is Barkeyville.
Maybe we could argue over ice cream.

On a Night Like This

When he couldn't sleep and his sight got going
he noted the colors on the back of each painting;

this one forest blue, that gunpowder,
one blue to make the yellow tell,
and one bluer than that.

Certain nights only the rain will have 
its say, troubling the downspout.

When morning came
he chose a white shirt
(they're all white) and followed the buttons down.

At least he says there is Billie Holiday
and the plants bring every green with them.

When I make his breakfast, the bed,
sweep the house out with a broom,
he stands by the window longer than one should.

I know he believes in progress
even if it's the kind you can't see.

When his sons grew tall and remote
and moved to cities he'd barely heard of,
he talked to them on Sundays. 

Though perhaps it's too late
a silk rose in his lapel.

When I came back some nights
I saw him caught beneath a streetlamp
talking with the girl he loved

turning his palm over
like a phrase he couldn't remember.

I saw the night come down around them
one hand turning
and how she turned in the dark

and smiled, blue scarf on her head,
blue dog at her feet, blue attic between the stars.

Directory of Obsolete Securities

I could stay here humming
and amuse myself with the window.

The lowing cows you cannot see.
Another month I made up. Another asterisk.

How I wrestle with the newspaper
and other people's pillows.

How I think of Albert,
for he is like the names of the days.

He walks the field
kicking a potato,
dreaming of casinos.

His emissaries get lost in alleyways.
His bridges crawl with teenagers.

The phone rings,
the sky tilts away.
A whole migration of Albert under the office door.

Albert is in the Otzal Alps.
He sends postcards saying
getting to Albert might be difficult.

Airplanes fly over and that is useful.
Albert is in the estuary.
We sit on the porch sharing a swing.

He is as loud as a rifle, over and over.
He clears the fields of crows.