Without a Map

And though my lack of education hasn’t hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall
— Paul Simon: “Kodachrome” from his There Goes Rhymin’ Simon album (1973),

The wall says not to read
instruction pamphlets but press all
the buttons until
one works; it says to pick up books as casual
acquaintances and take them home
to read in bed; it says
the Earth belongs as much to jaguars
as it does to human beings
and language belongs to rough-edged
speakers as much as it does to scholars.
The wall advises never
to believe what advertizing claims;
ignore the rhetoric by which
prime ministers and presidents attempt
to persuade the poor that
the rich are in the right; never
be impressed by resumes
but go to the source and taste the water.
When the government proclaims
a country as the enemy
the wall’s advice is to see it first hand
before reaching a conclusion.
Teachers come along in the night
and try to erase some of what is written
on the wall. They want more Shakespeare
and music played so often it lost
its echo, while the used book stores
are repositories of secrets
the discovery of which
are not rewarded by awarding a degree.


David Chorlton has lived in Phoenix since 1978. He grew up in England with watching soccer as a major part of life although he has managed to move on to other interests since then, including reading and writing poetry. Read other articles by David.