The Rough Beast Takes a Painting Class

by Alexandra Teague

The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through. —Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America / The teacher says white is not truly a color, / containing as it does, all wavelengths of visible light. / She says the Rough Beast’s claws might be useful later / for scraffito—to scratch back through to what’s beneath: / cyan and magenta; Goldman-Sachs and Donald Trump. / The teacher says Trump is not a color. But everyone knows […]

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L.C. Smith and Bros., Makers of Fine Guns and Typewriters, Advertise


Alexandra Teague is assistant professor of poetry at the University of Idaho and the author of Mortal Geography (Persea), which won the 2009 Lexi Rudnitsky Prize and the 2010 California Book Award for poetry. Two of her poems appear in the Spring/Summer issue of ZYZZYVA.

The poems come from her manuscript in progress, The Wise and Foolish Builders, which, Teague says, “branches out from the story of Sarah Winchester, Victorian heiress to the rifle fortune, and the six-acre house she build in San Jose, California.” The poem “L.C. Smith and Bros., Makers of Fine Guns and Typewriters, Advertise” takes its verses from the sort of advertising copy employed by various companies of the era (e.g., Remington) to sell their typewriters and firearms. The following is the poem in full.


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