the night before departure
there's talk of trails
our topos rolled out on an oak table

colorful quadrants published by the USGS
constantly curl at the map's edges
and re-roll like they resent being seen

we're too buzzed on scotch and anticipation to go to sleep
or do what's sensible and weigh the map's ends down
with a phone book or our drizzling drinks

so we knead the topo again till its almost flat like pizza
and stubbornly press its edges down w/our clumsy forearms and elbows
the heck with GPS coordinated gadgetry we agree

and plot our own traverse here from earth
with our own eyes
not satellites

just like our archaic fathers taught us to
and their ancient dads showed them too
because we're backpackers not weightless astronauts

and so begin translating eighty-foot-interval contour lines
slim and squiggly as plucked strands of hair dyed red
into precipitous cliffs, canyons, and vast panoramas

possible campsites under pines on plateaus
or near butterfly meadows dissected with creeks
the seasonal streams denoted blue in broken undulations of ink

avoiding exposed slopes our out-of-shape asses wouldn't dare
even drunk or in dreams they're so dangerous and steep
seeking slow inclined washes rather than rockfall ravines

should the snowed-in massif get too dicey for practical passage
or the forest chaparral prove prickly and impenetrable
in lieu of our not packing proper machetes

envisioning the freedom of cross-country trekking
out of our own blurred imagination's topo maps
in lug-soled pursuit of that alpenglow without or within

as breathtaking as a red-tailed hawk's soaring ascent
riding thermal updrafts backwards skyward
in this cobalt wilderness of wind no compass comprehends


  1. Wow! I really, really liked this. Beautiful imagery, made me feel as if I were right there looking over it myself! Very nicely wrought.

    It also happened to remind me of when I was cleaning out some of my dad's old stuff, and came across an old coastal fishing map. It was really cool, and I thought about giving it to my brother-in-law. He had just bought a house in that area, and had become an avid fisherman. But then I remembered how much of a tech-nut he is, and that he had a fishing GPS that does everything but catch the fish for him.

  2. Thanks, Bubba! That's great to hear. I'll take that coastal fishing map any day over the techie trinket!


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