straight lines + colonial times (poem)

we’re taught how geography is straight lines, 

in clusters, 

forming cities. 

so we learn the names, who runs them, 

and his-story’s take on how they came to be. 


these straight lines occasionally bend around curving water

and rising hills. 

we know them because of

the flat maps of documentation

we inherit, these important memories

reduced to textbooks. 

we memorize. rarely feeling their textures of culture.
 

part of this learning, of how to carry this tradition,

is about building more and better, always. 

never ceasing to explore. 

document, collect, report back. 

this is the formula of colonialism // our heritage


we learn how to cross the river, not how to follow it. 

skipping over the earth’s chapter on flexibility. 

the inherit importance of curving around a rock, 

not blasting through it, 

may be one of the quietest secrets

eroding from our awareness 

with each new set of lines


this type of geography - systematic at best - denies understanding

of cultural nuance. spatial play. 

what it means to explore, truly and gently. 

rather than rape our land of its value. 

we are learning. we must. always. 

how to carve out cravings, and how not to. 

differently from tradition, if tradition is only a temporary gain


the same way feminism redefines equality 

against hard-headed men

in new ways, each generation’s own bra burning is different.

yet the redefining teaches the crude essence of humanity. 

passionate individuality our greatest and most cursed gift. 

emboldened community our saving grace.


to speak for all the world, and yet hear nothing, 

is a failure of many ‘great’ leaders. selfish explorers. 

fearful of what they might find in places ‘untouched’. 

fabricating myths and drawing such fear on maps. 

for them the value of the world is in power; 

what namesake can be stolen, ascribed, and profiteered.

redefined in industrial lenses. 

resources for the marketplace. 

we are told that is the worth of the earth.


as colonial byproducts we can hardly justify

any of our biases. but as humans we must do something 

(or many tend to feel strongly we should try)

is equalized stasis the goal? 

socially and psychologically, 


in this moment of security

as you cup that hot mug of cumulative achievement

and satisfying refreshment


look outside and notice your reflection

alongside the others in the glass.


question this moment, 

is it time for it to pass?
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