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Litany for the City

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Litany for the City

By: Ryan Teitman

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Selected by Jane Hirshfield from over 600 manuscripts, Litany for the City is the winner of the 10th annual A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Of Litany for the City, Hirshfield writes "I found in this manuscript a poet doing the work of real exploration, thinking and feeling his way through images of cities both real and metaphoric, inner and outer. This book carries both startling imaginative freedoms and the impulsion of a person navigating the terrain of his life by means of the star-chart and sextant of poems––a winning combination, for me."

"Things are changed by how they are used. Even the hot breath of a resolute sigh, trapped under a blanket at the moment of waking transforms into a 'coat of warmth / that I knew could / never fray.'" —Southern Indiana Review



We tent our fingers

to make a cathedral.

This is how it's always been

done--how a whisper

between two palms

becomes an architecture

we can't fit into

our mouths. We hear

words like nave

and remember shoveling

piles of tulips into

a burnt-out flatbed.

An old man says 

cupola, and I think

of knotty loaves

of rye stacked

like cordwood

in the baker's pantry.

I dream of a church's

unfinished dome

squinting upward

like the battered eye-socket

of a bare-knuckle boxer.

Every dream is its own

kind of shaky cathedral--

joists and vaults bracing

it against the weight

of another morning

invoked against us.

There's a cathedral

built from the leg bones

of draft horses and saints.

A cathedral of birds

scaffolding the sky.

A cathedral of bodies

opening to each other

on beds smooth as altars.

A cathedral of hands

unbuttoning the skin

of every prayer

within reach.

Additional Information

Authors Ryan Teitman
Edition Paperback
ISBN 9781934414804
Publish Date May 2012

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