Atlas on an Atlas


On Facebook there is a poetry group called Poets All Call. I am one of the group’s moderators, and I contribute with my poetry and with a weekly feature called Title Tuesday, in which I provide five titles and invite the poets to use the titles as prompts.

It’s Friday, and there hasn’t been much activity in the group–perhaps a sign of these pandemical times. So, since I think both writing poetry and reading poetry is good for the soul, today I tried to lead by example by starting a poem without any inspiration whatsoever. As the poem unfolded I got some illustration notions, and I went back and forth beteeen the poem and my drawing.

Here is the poem that inspired the drawing.

grab those bootstraps
(to my fellow Poets All Call members)

i have nothing to say
and only the vaguest set of urges
chief of which is the fear
that my word-engine will heave
a sputtering sigh and die
if i let it idle too long

hey, i just said something
this is first gear
and i remember thinking
about atlas this morning

atlas according to greek myth
supported the entire Earth on his shoulders

and i was thinking cmon greeks
any five-year-old would know that that
is stupid

what’s HE standing on when he does it?
why doesn’t he just rest the Earth
where he is standing?
and why isn’t there a theme park
where his beyond-gigantic hands are?

(the word-engine is revving)
(rev is short
either for reverend
or revolutions per minute)
(there are reverends
and then there are right reverends
but none will admit to being
a wrong reverend)
(another way of abbreviating
revolutions per minute
is rpm
pronounced arpeeyem
and easy to say fast
as befits an abbreviation
that an inebriate
can abbreviate
and not deviate)

speaking of deviate
we did
we were speaking of atlas
the laughably improbable
and got sidetracked

but it all ties in
an atlas is a collection of maps
in other words it holds
all or part of the earth
and the earth spins
at approximately 1/1440 rpm
for 1440 is the approximate number of minutes
in a day

as for the poetic nonsense
of certain reverends
it neverends

but this little poem
this bootstrapping jaunt
must end
i will snip its umbilicus
and send it out into your eyes
for i am its mother
literarily speaking
and the being of a mother
is so sacred
it has raised empires
and flared hope
with the promise of renewal

you might enjoy some motherhood yourself
if not tomorrow (who knows?)
then right now–yes, now!
you have a notion
knocking about in your fanciful head–
i know it!
please share it!
start from scratch–
grab those bootstraps!!

  1. I especially love these picture perfect lines: “and send it out into your eyes” and “you have a notion knocking about in your fanciful head.”
    I’d love to see one or both of these developed into a poem of their own!

  2. My friend, you are not only a superb poet, upu are also a poet’s dream: you prove it is possible for a poem to Connect. You found the two most important lines in the poem, the two that summarize what Poetry is all about–taking a notion and sending it to others.

    I agree that these may serve as poem-seeds, and I so hope that you write them and send them out to me and to the world.

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