When You Say Map by David Keali’i

When You Say Map
After Craig Santos Perez and E. Rose Sims


When you say map
I first hear it as verb – the actions of lines and colors
                                          words and measurement

                                          –     I, you, he, she, we map
                                                                           is/was/were mapping.

Then I look up. Remember clouds and stars.
Not all maps are man made
but only some allow navigation.


Map as naming, named, and renamed.
Things known/unknown/mythic

What gets left out,
Ignored or forgotten?
How is a place misnamed?


                        Of course maps and bodies.
                        Like water or land

                        these things we cross, often so casually,
                        other times with such purpose

                        – these bodies can change and shift
            our borders rise and fall
            so quickly.

            Maps as entrance and exit.

            Maps as violence.


If information is power
the ability to understand geographic permutations
especially so.

There are stories to who or what gets mapped and why.


                                          all the while I try to determine just where on the map I start

David Keali‘i is a poet who was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts/Pocomtuc territory, he spent the last three years in Worcester/the heart of Nipmuc territory. The author of the poetry chapbooks, Kaonohiokala: The Eyeball of The Sun; Komohanaokala: Entering In of The Sun; Rust and Faded Columns; and Kahikinaokala: The Rising of the Sun. He represented Worcester at the 2009 National Poetry Slam. His work also appears in ‘Oiwi: A Native Hawaiian Journal, Yellow Medicine Review, and Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poetry in English (Whetu Moana, Volume II). He is a Master’s of Library and Information Science candidate at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.

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