See an Obligation

I’m not a geographer, these are treatments.
There is land and I’m upon it.
Discovery remains, the territory and the map are new,
I bring my ears and fingers as well as my eyes,
The sounds of the landscape may end up dictating to me
The kind of formations beneath my feet,
What is stable, what is changing, what can change,
I look around me and see an obligation.
These soils can be ignored, especially with shoes on,
At first sight, there is only a horizon,
At second sight, more of the same horizon,
The land here is barely marked, it extends,
It coughs up place after place of the same faded yellow.
Lacking a vessel, I still have to investigate,
Others drive through, wheels plus speed lead
Them from point to point with no need to question
What the line in between cuts through or opens up.
However, every step I take here makes a wound,
Upon the earth, a cut here and there
Makes folds and arrangements.
I reconfigure the distances, recalculate my progress.
I turn around, see where I was a moment ago
And think about where I thought I would be
And what it would look like when I was back there.
This is the kind of cartography only a lone mind comprehends.
by Ben Nardolilli     |        Image by Alicia Krawchuk     +     Michael Dallacosta

Ben Nardolilli

Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, Inwood Indiana, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs at and is looking to publish a novel.