Introduction to Cartography

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In the mountains of Oregon there is a place

where all the maps go bad. At every exit

you find the gravel parking lots of cheap motels

labeled only “Motel” and deserted gas stations

with dubious picnic areas swarming with ticks.

Every offramp another gate to destruction, trucks

burning brakes and oil fumes in the air.

Ride the breaks, step on the gas, don’t look down,

beware of falling rock, chain your tires.

The falling leaves don’t make the passes any prettier,

and you’re sure you’ve gotten to the bottom

of the mystery when once again your guide tells you

to pull onto a highway that’s no longer there,

an exit that’s disappeared, a road to nowhere.

Beware the electronic voices that guide you.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Keith Skelton

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About Author

Jeannine Hall Gailey is the Seattle-area author of Becoming the Villainess (Steel Toe Books, 2006) and She Returns to the Floating World (Kitsune Books, 2011) which is an Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal finalist. Her poems were featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac and on Verse Daily; two were included in 2007’s The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, and Crab Orchard Review; she reviews books for The Rumpus. She volunteers as an editorial consultant for Crab Creek Review and currently teaches part-time at the MFA program at National University.

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