Transition Poem 24 @ Dec. 2, 2016

Iris Jamahl Dunkle
The Map

The questions are slick as oil. Dive under
that dark surface, that rainbow sheen as if
there is something; espy, originate,
pioneer without a map. Facts are rock
bottom. Hit them, you’ll think: pay dirt. But, facts
have cracks. California, born of earthquakes,
can’t be trusted even in the solid.
When you walk from the oil your heritage
sticks to you like feathers. Dead. Promising
wind/flight/understanding. Stories whisper
like aspen leaves: static, word, static. It’s
up to you to find the narrative. And
all the while underneath: vesuvial:
that red fire that can create, or destroy.


1-1Iris Jamahl Dunkle is the author of There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air (Word Tech Editions, 2015) and Interrupted Geographies, forthcoming from Trio House Press in 2017. Her first poetry collection, Gold Passage, was selected by Ross Gay for the 2012 Trio Award and was published by Trio House Press. Her chapbooks include Inheritance and The Flying Trolley, published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and 2013. Her poetry, essays and creative non-fiction have appeared in journals including Fence, Calyx, Catamaran, Poet’s Market 2013, JMWW and Chicago Quarterly Review. Dunkle teaches writing and literature at Napa Valley College and is on the staff of the Napa Valley Writers conference.  She currently resides with her family in Northern California and is the 2016-2017 Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, CA.