Gordon Smedt © 2019

Gordon Smedt © 2019


by Adam Hughes


I remember when they took the cartography.
Melted the globes. Forced the professors
to eat the topographical maps of the Congo Basin.

Later, in solitary,
surrounded by three solid metal walls,
one with bars so they could see
me pace like the last thylacine,

a trench and a cot frame, no
cot, I came back
from a rare shower

and there it was on the wall,
a beautifully rendered             map.

That’s the last thing
I remember before
I painted the walls

with my blood, opened
myself                                     an atlas
to show them my coordinates

how beautiful my borders
how strong my riverine systems
how perfectly black and round

my cities of millions and how
starry the capitals of my eyes.

Later they reassembled me
all wrong and I                        was an archipelago

of fugitives, each one rowing
inside me, each one rowing
nowhere, each one a mutineer

                        halfway to safety
halfway to chains.


Adam Hughes is the author of four full-length poetry collections, most recently Allow the Stars to Catch Me When I Rise (Salmon Poetry, 2017) and Deep Cries Out to Deep (Aldrich Press, 2017). Born and raised in Central Ohio, he now resides in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, where he is pursuing an MFA at Randolph College.