I need a printout of this world map
but on my computer monitor
the outline is smudged, the
lines uneven with jagged edges,
and areas that should be clear are littered
with gray pixels of various dark shades,
like trash scattered everywhere.
The eraser tool works like a vacuum cleaner
as it moves along the contours of the lines,
sucking up stray pixels, like strewn
plastic wrappers and empty pints of whiskey.
Along the streets my cleaner hums,
and soon I am out of town,
its keen muzzle sniffing instinctively,
cleaning the sides of county roads,
then the state line of Wisconsin,
heading west, smartly straightening the borders
that separate Colorado, Utah, Nevada,
to the jagged coast line of California
where we slow down, check what’s in the bag,
surprised to see crack cocaine, syringes,
pushers, even pedophiles,
and feeling the power now
we sweep across the Pacific,
taking care to tidy up Japan
and to mainland Asia, sleeves rolled up,
we change the bag several times,
disposing of rats and nuclear waste,
pesticides, propaganda leaflets,
and to my surprise, a handful of dictators.
Then dipping into Africa,
the magic machine sucks up parasites,
poachers and genocidal maniacs,
and north into Europe where
we rid the streets of dog poop
and shards of stained glass
before turning west to cross the Atlantic
and forge into the District of Columbia.
It’s been a long time
since we stopped the world
for those who want to get off.
Now might be a good time
for an exodus, announced
well in advance of course,
so no opportunity is lost.
This should be limited to those
who want to get off, to keep
from arguing who should get off,
and shouldn’t we stop
some other celestial body
so the crestfallen can get on,
at least the moon?
And as long as we’re stopped,
let’s do some maintenance
on this blue-white marvel,
check fluids, timing, alignment,
then before we start again,
take a moment to wave goodbye,
me from my bedroom window,
you from the dark side.
—Ken Tennessen, Wautoma, WI