Saturday, April 12, 2014


by Christine Fojas

you could live without knowing 
where you were not living.
      --Jonathan Safran Foer

There is a body, then there is beauty
superimposed. Symbols
for the surface of the world
or any space
real or imagined

without regard to context
or scale. That's the dream.
Beauty is oriented
according to tradition
or whatever narrative's on top.

It has been made for a purpose
or a set of purposes.
Sometimes the scale
is deliberately distorted,
some features removed

to reflect other information
or enhance the clarity of beauty.
As long as it serves your needs.
(What else is beauty for?)
It is a drawing on a surface

without overlapping edges.
Beauty is either political or physical,
territories and borders
elevations and relief
with contour lines or shading.

Beauty not properly designed
is a failure; it has to convince;
it has to imply authenticity.
I'm terrible at reading beauty;
I'd rather write it.

Beauty is an application
of a set of principles, propaganda.
It's not just the surface,
but can show characteristics
underlying, fault lines

and broken faith. Everyone has
a collection of beauty and directions,
manually constructed with brushes,
muscle memory or someone else's
voice dictating, maybe a cache

of compliments/complements, or the kind
that unfolds on long trips.
Lines and marks,
creases and fingerprints
of someone's need.

Beauty can be made, but bodies
change without our consent.
They exist whole and beauty
isolates the pieces, presents
a fantasy, or a political reality.

You have to find north. Spin an arrow.
Pick a trail to follow. Or none at all.
Run from beauty and its shadow, explore
the edges of expectations, especially
your own. Beauty is two-dimensional.

Find north. Find out firsthand
what bodies can do. Find out if the face
you have on is the kind that washes away,
erodes in the wind and water. Find the bones
underneath. Find your hands, find your feet.

You have to answer your own needs.

prompt: replacement poem, intangible for a physical thing, beauty for maps.

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