Gerrymandering                                                                     by Marjorie Maddox

 –after the photograph “North” by Karen Elias
From down here, 
            up there is 
nowhere close to 
            click click there’s no place like
City Hall to haul your 
            cracked compass spinning, 
spinning its shiny tin arrow, True North
            a myth lost in the reshuffling
of district lines and Which way do the monkeys fly?
            voting booths Pay no attention to yourself
behind the curtain. Or do that keep you looking
            both ways, keep you crossing streets,
rivers, endless fields of deceptively sweet-
            smelling poppies all the way
to the Emerald mirage you mistook
            for your own backyard Toto, this isn’t
Pennsylvania anymore, the familiar still
             in focus but slanted just enough
to help you see the unreal not paved
            with yellow bricks, but the ordinary
cracked choices of Now, pointing someplace
            not here, not home, not anywhere
close to the bright blue skies harboring
            tomorrow’s tornadoes. 
“North” by Karen Elias. USA (Contemporary). Used by permission. “I took this photo at an event held at the Clinton County courthouse to celebrate the fact that every one of Clinton County’s municipalities signed on to a proclamation asking for gerrymander reform.  I looked up, saw the sign for “North” and snapped the picture.  Margie’s poem highlights the abysmal gap between what we might call the true north of our intentions and the discouraging political distortions that skewer our lived maps.”–Karen Elias.
Marjorie Maddox & Karen Elias

Marjorie Maddox, winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist); Local News from Someplace Else; Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); children’s books; Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor); and 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Her newest books Begin with a Question (Paraclete Press) and collaboration with photographer Karen Elias, Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For (Shanti Arts), are due out in 2021.

Dr. Karen Elias taught college English for 40 years and is now an artist/activist, using photography to record the fragility of the natural world and raise awareness about climate change. Her work is in private collections, has been exhibited in several galleries, and has won numerous awards. She is a board member of the Clinton County Arts Council where she serves as membership chair and curator of the annual juried photography exhibit.

Elias and Maddox are engaged in an exciting, mutually inspiring project, combining poetry and photography in creative collaboration. Their work has been exhibited at The Station Gallery (Lock Haven, PA). In addition to their forthcoming book Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For, additional collaborations have appeared in such literary, arts, or medical humanities journals as About Place, Cold Mountain Review, The Ekphrastic Review, The Other Journal, Glint, and Ars Medica.

Guest editor, Morgan O.H. McCune, currently works at Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas. She is a native Kansan, and holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis (1991) and an M.L.S. from Emporia State University (2002). Her poems have been published previously in River Styx and Flint Hills Review. 


3 thoughts on “Gerrymandering                                                                     by Marjorie Maddox

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