Think of a map on a wall
that shows where everything is and should be.
Thumbtacks hold it in place,
pushpins mark the important points on the map.
Every Confederate statue is a pushpin.
Mount Rushmore is a pushpin.
One World Trade Center is a pushpin.
Every picture of the smoking towers is a pushpin.
The words “Wall Street” are a pushpin.
The words “Main Street” are a pushpin.
Barbie is a pushpin.
Ken is a pushpin.
Pushpins are pink,
Pushpins are blue,
hamburgers and hot dogs
are pushpins, too.
Donald Trump is a pushpin
who thinks he’s a thumbtack
surrounded by pushpins
he’s pressed into the map.
They almost act like thumbtacks,
there are so many of them,
but don’t let them fool you:
they’re still just pushpins.
The military is a thumbtack.
The police are a thumbtack.
The justice system is a thumbtack.
The prison system is a thumbtack.
The labor of prisoners is a thumbtack.
The disenfranchisement of former prisoners is a thumbtack.
The educational system is a thumbtack.
The healthcare system is a thumbtack.
The food supply system is a thumbtack.
The deep decay of infrastructure is a thumbtack.
Pop culture is a series of brightly colored thumbtacks
placed in such a way that they look like pushpins.
Standing Rock is a thumbtack.
Flint is a thumbtack.
New Orleans and Puerto Rico are thumbtacks.
Michael Brown? Eric Garner? Sandra Bland?
Native women missing near the man camps of the oil fields?
All the people dead or missing for their bodies and souls
that did not fit the map?
Fresh blood on old stains that have been on the map so long,
we think they’re supposed to be there;
fresh blood in endless supply
seeping out from under the thumbtacks,
making it clear that they were pushed in to stay.
You see the map anew and realize
it’s not only wrong, but that it’s designed, in fact,
to get and keep people lost
and to conceal certain information and features
that exist but which are not shown on the map.
You reach up to the wall
and start pulling pushpins out of the places
that are deemed important by whoever put up the map.
The places THEY want to highlight,
the routes THEY want you to travel, etc.
You start tossing some aside,
put others back in different spots.
If there is a color code to the pins,
maybe you subvert it
or discard certain colors, add new ones, etc.,
so that they no longer represent
what the mapmakers wanted.
You stand back and look at your work…
and it’s troubling, isn’t it?
It’s still their map.
You reach up and pull the pushpins out you just put in,
because they play a role in keeping the map
securely in place.
Then you start pulling the thumbtacks themselves,
the ones that define the borders,
the ones that hold the map up.
You pull them one at a time at first
until you get enough slack to get a hand on a free corner
and you rip the whole thing off the wall.
You crumple it up and burn it in the fireplace.
And then you go outside:
bloody, singed, exhausted.
Maybe you are alone,
having lost everyone and everything,
but it’s been so long
since you saw the actual territory
that you don’t know what’s actually out there,
and it’s time to find out.