My Poem “Maps” is Up at Green Ink Poetry

 

My poem “Maps” is live at Green Ink Poetry. This previously appeared in Riggwelter, and was originally drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 Challenge. I owe its existence to Ken Gierke, who sponsored the poem and provided the title (which I changed) that sparked this piece.

 

 

Poem Published in Slippery Elm

 

Letter to Harper from the Edge of Sixty

Dear Stephanie: Some distances, some lives, can’t be quantified.
Knowing that two-thousand miles separates us offers slim
hope for a quick cup of java at a local cafe, but the gape-mawed
dragons lurking below those map edges are at least discernable,
and their fires have no doubt been doused by the confused oceans
corkscrewing over the rim; I detect steam, but no smoke.
The ruler measures in inches, never minutes, and certainly not in
emotion. Saying I miss you is easy and true, but how do those
words evoke the rocks under the surface? I turn sixty in six
days, and what I wouldn’t give to crumple some of those ancient,
wasted hours and toss them into the burn pile, to watch them rise,
transformed into winged smiles and realized dreams of what never
happened to both of us. We could hold hands and observe the odd
little phoenixes fluttering into the past, where they’d patch damages,
circumvent losses and scour clean those close corners in the lost
rooms where memories go to die. I miss you is shorthand for
the atmosphere is too transparent to conceal my longing, and naps
are a poor substitute for the real thing
. How do we hide what
is evident even to those who don’t know us? I admit failures and
improprieties, and, facing, open-mouthed, what I desire most, hope
to mitigate misbehaving parts and even some misunderstandings.
I am both the man I thought I was and one whose scars remind me
of someone I might have become, if only. The magic eight ball
spins out signs point to yes, no matter the question, so I’ve mastered
the art of cautious phrasing and willful optimism. Two nights ago
we lost ourselves in a dream in Nowhere, Texas, which seems
apt and is hardly a metaphor if past experience indicates anything.
Even GPS couldn’t help us, but frankly I don’t want guidance.
Being lost with you beats the hell out of any other reality, and might
offer us more time together, and I’m already teetering on the losing
side of that equation. I love being your old man, and want nothing
more than to be just that, at noon, on that rickety bench in Nowhere’s
square, guitar in hand, crooning “Wild Thing” and swigging cognac
while ignoring the perplexed onlookers awaiting their court dates.
I’m contemplating these colliding strands of time and cartography,
wishing for a past that never was to ease the burden of this
present. And there’s the future, which bends to no one’s whim and
seems fraught with scaled fire-breathers and sharp-toothed crags.
But we knew that going in, and stepped forward because there is
no other direction. More brave than stupid, ya think? You are
my true north, my everywhen, my night smile and contented belly.
Let’s keep sculpting our day, a piece at a time, chipped here, rounded
there. It’s taking shape, Babe. Love, Bob.

 

 

“Letter to Harper from the Edge of Sixty” was a finalist for Slippery Elm’s 2020 Poetry Prize, and was recently published in the 2020 issue, alongside “Answer” by Stephanie L. Harper, also a finalist. Many thanks to the Slippery Elm Literary Journal’s editorial team, and especially EIC Dave Essinger, whose professionalism and personal kindness place SELJ at the top of the ladder in the world of literary journals. If you have a chance, take a look at SLEJ‘s offerings – they’re a print journal – or consider entering their Deanna Tulley Multimedia Prize, now open for submissions.

 

Maps

 

Maps

If we fold the map just so, the journey’s path
shrinks considerably. Sacramento enters the Hudson
Valley, Toronto meets Santa Fe, and Lee County,
Mississippi merges with Tupelo, Texas, joining music
to fruitcakes in a celebratory feast.  Stroll down one
road and find a lost car. Exit a theater to enter bliss
or a good bar with craft beer on tap, where no one
discusses mileage and you may eavesdrop on
conversations about ancient nautical battles, the
history of chili, and radiation. Unfold the map
twice to find yourself in Swamp Angel, Kansas,
named after a Civil War field gun and not a spiritual
being, and wander to the next intersection near
Barstow, where Joshua trees tickle the sky’s belly
and I ate the best chili dog in my young life’s
experience in 1968. Look to the edges, where the
best places crowd and nowhere lives in a corner.
Jump from Busan to Venice, drive to Perth and
beyond. Slowly crease the page. Do this again.
Point blindly. There. Your destination waits.

 

 

My poem “Maps” iwas publishedin February 2019 at Riggwelter. Thank you, Amy Kinsman, for taking this piece, which was originally drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 Challenge. I owe its existence to Ken Gierke, who sponsored the poem and provided the title (which I changed) that sparked this piece.

 

 

A Brief History of Edges

map


A Brief History of Edges

This road leads nowhere. I live at its end where breezes
wilt and the sun still burns my darkened skin.

I’ve sailed to Oman, but have never seen the Dakotas.
My friend searches for the concealed parable in this truth.

An early clay map depicted Babylon surrounded by a bitter river,
and an island named the sun is hidden and nothing can be seen.

Fitting the limitless within boundaries, she remembers no one.
The lighted sign says boots, but I see books.

Venturing from the shadows, she offers an accord: intersecting borders,
we must retain ourselves, deliver what calls
.

In our place between the hidden and the invisible, consider
that neon gas possesses neither color nor odor.

What lives in creases and at the periphery? The isle called beyond
the flight of birds 
has crumbled from the lower edge.

Where I stand defines my portion of the spherical earth.
Crossing lines, I look to the sky, its bisected clouds.

mapman

“A Brief History of Edges” first appeared here in April 2016.

 

 

My Poem “Maps” is Up at Riggwelter

 

My poem “Maps” is live at Riggwelter. Thank you, Amy Kinsman, for taking this piece, which was originally drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30-30 Challenge. I owe its existence to Ken Gierke, who sponsored the poem and provided the title (which I changed) that sparked this piece.

 

 

A Brief History of Edges

map


A Brief History of Edges

This road leads nowhere. I live at its end where breezes
wilt and the sun still burns my darkened skin.

I’ve sailed to Oman, but have never seen the Dakotas.
My friend searches for the concealed parable in this truth.

An early clay map depicted Babylon surrounded by a bitter river,
and an island named the sun is hidden and nothing can be seen.

Fitting the limitless within boundaries, she remembers no one.
The lighted sign says boots, but I see books.

Venturing from the shadows, she offers an accord: intersecting borders,
we must retain ourselves, deliver what calls
.

In our place between the hidden and the invisible, consider
that neon gas possesses neither color nor odor.

What lives in creases and at the periphery? The isle called beyond
the flight of birds
has crumbled from the lower edge.

Where I stand defines my portion of the spherical earth.
Crossing lines, I look to the sky, its bisected clouds.

mapman

“A Brief History of Edges” first appeared here in April 2016.

Human Distance

nautical_tools


Human Distance 

1

Apart from edges, and into deeper darkness,
our scars crawl, remaining aloof.

2

Open windows frame the ache in motion, the
displaced notes between two wavering spaces.

3

Absent light, absent voice. What is the longitude of
grace? Consider errors and their remnants.

4

Navigators measured lunar distance and the height
of two bodies to determine Greenwich time.

5

I study the passing cloud
and its descent, noting the nature of condensation.

6

Desire: the fragmented night and its circumstance.

7

Heavenly form. The moon’s dull glow.
Acquiescence before the body’s silt.

8

Interstellar matter become dust, become
gas, become molecule.

9

Human distance registers no scale.

greenwich_meridian

“Human Distance” was published in Bindlestiff in summer 2016, and has also appeared on this blog.

Human Distance

nautical_tools


Human Distance 

1

Apart from edges, and into deeper darkness,
our scars crawl, remaining aloof.

2

Open windows frame the ache in motion, the
displaced notes between two wavering spaces.

3

Absent light, absent voice. What is the longitude of
grace? Consider errors and their remnants.

4

Navigators measured lunar distance and the height
of two bodies to determine Greenwich time.

5

I study the passing cloud
and its descent, noting the nature of condensation.

6

Desire: the fragmented night and its circumstance.

7

Heavenly form. The moon’s dull glow.
Acquiescence before the body’s silt.

8

Interstellar matter become dust, become
gas, become molecule.

9

Human distance registers no scale.

greenwich_meridian