Mary Jo Bang

What the Mapmaker Knows

O is the ocean and t the consequence
of time at the edge of a landscape of dots plotted into the plane
with a constant scale.

Any place can be located and later divided
by cultural and social data and sketched
on a napkin—disregarding distance
and leaving only the little one knows.

Description is reductive: a shirt on the back,
buttons on the front, a mind that is willing
to enact its own explosive end. What idiocy
the world is made of:

fierce justifications, landmines and such,
a plaid shirt, a rifle upright.
Day and night, an empire
of uncommon horror: the murderer singing,

"Every moment all that matters is me."
Tick-tick in the drifting dark.