Rob Sullivan performed his Ode to Geography last week at UCLA. We are delighted to reproduce it here.
ODE TO GEOGRAPHY (All Hail the Areal King)
Self inflicted geography.
The geography of revenge and the geography of the dead.
Geography of ice and Geography of blood.
Geography of tears left out to dry in the rain.
Geography afraid of its own laminated parchment mapped-over skin.
Geography so freaked to be alone, no history around to lend it a temporal hand.
Geography that wandered too far off and never came back from milk-carton land.
Geography that never brushed its teeth and forgot to comb its hair.
Geography that escapes itself, running down arroyos and leaping across grottos, the jail keys of chronology clamped in its map-strewn hand.
Lonesome geography, upset and wailing cause geology keeps its rocks to itself.
Geography that couldn’t conceptualize itself.
Geography that didn’t know when to stop, kept running off at the map.
Geography that misplaced its own metes and bounds.
Deaf and dumb geography.
Blind geography, stumbling into anthropology and mistaking sociology for psych.
Geography that sliced off its peninsulas and went fishing instead.
Geography that wouldn’t listen to its cartographers and mapped itself right off the grid.
Geography that wouldn’t be taught, refused to be published, chucked itself right out of the atlas, hid from the surveyors and withdrew into a landscape of sinkholes, fissures and clefts.
Geography that threw a tantrum, causing an international scene of longitudinal proportions.
Geography that could not describe itself, its kills and inlets and bays and precipices mish-mashed and crushed into unspeakable inarticulate areal havoc.
Geography that had its own language, terms of discourse that could not be translated, the key to the code hidden deep in Mother Earth’s vulva’d-portcullis-womb.
Geography that went back on itself, unraveling, revealing covert places and inverted spaces where absolutely nothing was hitherto thought to exist.
Angry geographies, monomaniacal in their passion to consume every acre and throw every last quarter section into its ravenous maw.
Ripped off geographies, places that used to be on the map coming back to life and demanding their rightful spots in the sun.
Geographies of the brain, hippocampus, medulla and cerebellum plotted on the portolan charts of old-time cranium navigators who used dead reckoning to chart their way into the all-purpose juices of the pituitary gland.
Big time geography putting the world on its head, deciding that north was south and east west, switching up Brazil and Luxembourg Mozambique and Peru, demanding that the Atlantic and the Pacific trade currents and Lake Michigan unmoor itself and migrate to the Bay of Biscay.
Small time geography that never made it onto the map, cartographical has-been would-be’s, a ditch by the side of a road, a pond that never even got a name, dust motes, winds, shadows, Siberian towns thought no longer to exist but still somehow plugging along in snow-bound anonymous sleet.
Quasi-institutional geography and neo-realistic geography.
Economic geography penniless and begging on the street.
Physical geography showing off its abs but glancing behind to check out a big butt that sags.
Titillating geography, bare-breasted, showing off its lands and exposing its seas to a bare naked sun.
Masticating geography, chewing up oceans and swallowing ice floes while defecating mountain ranges, buttes and plateaus out the other side.
Geography that cowers at the entrance to the cave.
Geography that towers above the opening of the plains.
Schizophrenic geographies and geographies that couldn’t shoot straight.
Geographies that were stranded by the side of the road, waiting for a mechanic who got drunk with Sweden instead of answering the call from the wild.
Hounded geographies, bounded geographies, bewildered geographies that didn’t know how they ended up where they were.
Mythic geographies, synthetic geographies, genetic geographies, geographies that wouldn’t budge and geographies whose name was mud.
Geographies that ran away from their North Dakota home, heading out for New York City only to wind up in Tupelo, playing piano in a honky-tonk name of Mississippi Lou’s.
Braggadocio geographies that boasted their way onto the map, only to be discovered in a later epoch by meticulous archivists and be relegated to minor cartographical footnotes.
Timorous geographies, whole continents that wouldn’t enunciate themselves, their coastlines waiting in the wings for someone to invite them to the regional dance.
Geographies exploding out of my head.
Geographies that wouldn’t leave well enough alone and wanted the map to themselves.
Geographies that crawled across the globe on their hands and knees, begging for a home, just a simple pair of coordinates where to rest their bones.
Pretentious geographies and portentous geographies.
Sagacious geographies, always knowing exactly where they are.
Deceptive geographies, pilfering their sites through subterfuge while tossing off ironical asides.
Blinded-sided geographies, right-handed geographies, flip-handled geographies, side-winder geographies that stole mama’s cane and went dancing with intoxicated elephants on the outskirts of Samarkand.
Erudite geographies naming all the capitals and spelling them in such a rigorously enunciated fashion too.
Insane geographies, delusions of being the salt in the Salton Sea when they were actually the southern-most island in the Aleutian chain.
Geographies that popped right out of the collective mind, grew to full size overnight, and then the next day were gone, only to reappear 7000 years later in the Sea of Japan.
Insomniac geographies and geographies that couldn’t get out of bed, geographies with buck teeth and geographies with gout, platitudinous geographies and adventitious geographies, the geography of hogs and the geography of bogs, old-school geography hip-hop geography riprap geography geographies that have the blues.
I don’t know geographies and know-it-all geographies, clueless geographies and reckless geographies, feckless geographies and geographies hiding underneath my tongue.
Itchy geographies and bitchy geographies and geographies that shoved rivers across mountains without even a moment of pre-configurable doubt.
Burning geographies and churning geographies and geographies that wished they were dead.
Geographies in group therapy, tyrannical geographies that demanded every journey be concluded with them, kind-hearted geographies that always advertise their location, simply out of concern for the habitually discombobulated and the hopelessly disoriented.
Jubilant geographies, gleeful with their serendipitous sites and ecstatic at the way everything always winds up on their shores.
Rhapsodic geographies hypnotic geographies geographies that got plugged in the head by Captain Cook’s double-barreled sextant and the dreadnought grin of Captain Kidd.
Raunchy geographies and punch-drunk geographies, geographies that were fucked in the ass and geographies stinking of turpentine and creosote mash and geographies with garlands of roses trembling in their genital hair.
Botoxed geographies and scrambled geographies and geographies with sores running out of their head lands.
Geographies that hid their lands in the sand.
Geographies that refuse to bend with the wind.
Make the announcement: geography has come to save the day.
Proclaim it and declaim it.
Frame it and acclaim it.
Rip it out in headlines and furl it out on flagpoles.
Emblazon it on the rooftops and tattoo it into the underside of the sky.
Move over, history.
No more of your temporizing shenanigans.
Without place and space you’d be nothing anyway.
Just a bunch of dates twirling in a war-speckled breeze.
Sick of your snooty demeanor, that hoary countenance and the perverse preoccupation with the dead.
Give me the cartography of Arabia, not the chronology of the ascension of Spanish royalty.
Who wants sequence when juxtaposition will do.
That’s right, you heard it: who wants sequence when juxtaposition will do.