Home > Poetry > The Only Known Road Map of the Alaskan Islands
Published: Fri Oct 15 1976
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
The Only Known Road Map of the Alaskan Islands

There are hands and then there is my desire.
I think especially of sandpiles.
Friends understand why I don’t write

French. To have loved her was to have learned
A foreign language, oh say German,
In a small tin hut in rural Alabama.

There are nuances and then there are clouds.
Who can stop decay? All languages are not
Equal. I love more verbs than nouns.

Susan always preferred the adjective.
Our love was a strange exotic tongue
With only nouns. No verb. No adjective. No tense.

This is the meaning of all road maps.
Made from something to somewhere
To disappear. It take a few seconds or years.

My dream is Lear. Some “I” play acts at Edgar.
He is serious. He is a serious fool.
He has perfected his one great routine.

The sea shore. Edgar paper shreds
A Rand McNally atlas and empties it
Into the ocean with a wood spoon.

There are a thousand billion ways to die.
The most interesting I ever heard
Is the story of the boy who ate salt.

He ate salt. It does something to fluids
In the body. It is like dying alone
On the ocean of thirst. He ate salt.

There are hands and then there is my desire.
I see on the weather report a storm
Moves east from Denver to Illinois.

My hands touch the air. It is all they touch.
They touch you. It must be enough. It is.
You come to me on storms in the night.


See what's inside AGNI 5 and 6

Read the introduction to feature poet John McKernan by Founding Editor Askold Melnyczuk entitled Where is My Lariat?: The Poetry of John McKernan. (1975)

Back to top