Ryan Teitman
& Marcus Wicker

A Game of Chicken



These days I don’t sleep

so good.

I am brimming over.

I am over-filled

with my own quiet.

Do I need a bloodletter?

A leech? A cup

of warm milk with

a whiskey back? Or

is my quietude’s source


Could liquor pop fly

my mouthpiece

like a ruthless right

gut shot? & once it

hits the canvas, then

what? Would words

be the second shoe’s plop?

Could laces tell me

the answers books

seem lately to keep?

Some nurse told me

to rub my earlobe

in little circles, said

it would relax me.

Laces? I am looking

in the wrong place, Lord.

I am searching the water

for those trembling clouds

of shining fish. I am

searching the water

when what I need is water.

What I need is more

than a gulp. What I need

is more particular

than sleep. More sensible

than night. What I need

is an owl to fly straight

toward my bedroom window,

& let me close my eyes

before it crashes through.

My Problem with Description



If I told you the moon was

a marionette, suspended

by fine wires of starlight—


you’d say I scorched the earth.

You would say save room

for the breathing people,


family dogs & cats too.

If I said the stars tinkered

clock-quick in the gearboxes


of our souls, you’d say

you feel the same as before.

My problem with description


is the last train out of town

has no interest in catching up

to my itinerary, bought off


a travel agent from the future,

train trekking warp speed

ahead of everything I pen.


My problem with description

is that no timetable ever has

a block marked off for me to sit


& eat an ice cream cone. No block

for a couple in the sleeper car

to knock down the curtains


while making love. You’d say

my problem’s four-sided

as a boxcar. Is a trackless railway.


A relationship block. You would say

my problem with description is

I keep rubbing off.

False Start



I live inside the hole inside the wall.

It is always closing. As if the wall


itself decided to grow peach fuzz

in 5th grade. As if it chose regression


before old age, decided to push

down girls on the playground


that it had crushes on, hold

a thick lemon-scented marker


under its nose and inhale deep

whenever the teacher’s not looking.


Sometimes, when the fumes knock

the wall on its ass, a stress fracture


zips through plaster like a rip saw,

crumbles the wall into gypsum—


my lungs, an unholy chute.

The immaturity nearly killed me.


The happiness nearly maimed me.

I wonder what the house looks like


from a satellite, that slow moon made

of eyes. I can crawl up the walls


to the roof and wave hello.

Hold up a sign to the sky that says:


I’m here. Thanks for noticing.

And I’d mean it, too. I can lie


to you but the moon is a merciful

polygraph that beats the truth out


of my heart. The moon knows

I love its real time orbit more


than any old, gorgeous text book

depiction. The moon knows


my permanent address. Knows

I want to sleep on its celestial frame.


Knows how to drown me in its seas.

Even if its water remains uncharted.




RYAN TEITMAN is the author of Litany for the City, chosen by Jane Hirshfield for the A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize and published by BOA Editions. His poems have appeared in The Journal, Ninth Letter, The Southern Review, and other magazines. He was formerly a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University and is currently the Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College.  


MARCUS WICKER is the author of Maybe the Saddest Thing (Harper Perennial), selected by D.A. Powell for the National Poetry Series. The recipient of a 2011 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, he has also held fellowships from Cave Canem, the Fine Arts Work Center, and Indiana University where he received his MFA. Marcus is assistant professor of English at University of Southern Indiana.