Read books online » Other » Maps and Transcripts of the Ordinary World Kathryn Cowles (english readers txt) 📖

Book online «Maps and Transcripts of the Ordinary World Kathryn Cowles (english readers txt) 📖». Author Kathryn Cowles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Go to page:

Maps and Transcripts of the Ordinary World

Maps and Transcripts of the Ordinary World


Kathryn Cowles


© 2020, Text by Kathryn Cowles

All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical articles or reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher: Milkweed Editions, 1011 Washington Avenue South, Suite 300, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415. (800)520-6455


Published 2020 by Milkweed Editions

Printed in the United States of America

Cover design by Mary Austin Speaker

Cover art by Kathryn Cowles

20 21 22 23 24 5 4 3 2 1

First Edition

Milkweed Editions, an independent nonprofit publisher, gratefully acknowledges sustaining support from the Alan B. Slifka Foundation and its president, Riva Ariella Ritvo-Slifka; the Ballard Spahr Foundation; Copper Nickel; the Jerome Foundation; the McKnight Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Poetry Series; the Target Foundation; and other generous contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals. Also, this activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. For a full listing of Milkweed Editions supporters, please visit milkweed.org.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Cowles, Kathryn, author.

Title: Maps and transcripts of the ordinary world : poems / Kathryn Cowles.

Description: Minneapolis : Milkweed Editions, 2020. | Summary: “Maps and Transcripts of the Ordinary World is a collection of poems about memory, place, and distance between reality and its transcriptions”-- Provided by publisher.

Identifiers: LCCN 2019041953 (print) | LCCN 2019041954 (ebook) | ISBN 9781571315021 (trade paperback) | ISBN 9781571319791 (ebook)

Subjects: LCGFT: Poetry.

Classification: LCC PS3603.O8894 M37 2020 (print) | LCC PS3603.O8894 (ebook) | DDC 811/.6--dc23

LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2019041953

LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2019041954

Milkweed Editions is committed to ecological stewardship. We strive to align our book production practices with this principle, and to reduce the impact of our operations in the environment. We are a member of the Green Press Initiative, a nonprofit coalition of publishers, manufacturers, and authors working to protect the world’s endangered forests and conserve natural resources. Maps and Transcripts of the Ordinary World was printed on acid-free 100% postconsumer-waste paper by Sheridan.

[ For Sue ]


Origin Story


Map [water boat water]

Hymn [all is well]

A completely different alphabet

Map [Two-dimensional circles]

Postcard [Dear Brenda]

Map [the way to the ladder]

Transcript of birds

The map keeps things put

This donkey path


[the shadow maps]



Recipe [Goat cheese]

Three hours at the blue table on the terrace in the shade of the rock wall

Recipe [A set of instructions]

[the still tree holds its wind]

Sea change

Transcript of birds, continued

The day before the day before we have to leave



I am on a plane

Paper with tape

Farm plot


Lay of the land

[silo shade]

Poem for the putting in of the new carpet

[take your]

[can’t you see darling]


Shower water

[a picture holds]


Boat tour

[wave not wave]


Fieldguide marginalia

Three poems called “The basil”

Keeping track

[a whole page]


Photograph of a friend taken after he has disappeared

I am wearing a pinkish shirt

Hymn [A song]

Three hours in a rocking chair outside the blue-roofed bunkhouse in the wind

A record of water you can’t see

Metaphor: Description, uses thereof, side effects, interactions, etc.

Map legend

Postcard [A picture]

Directions [seems fairly clear]

Directions [Start here]

[can’t catch]


The waters change all the while and stay the same only on the map.

—JOHN BERGER, To the Wedding

Maps and Transcripts of the Ordinary World


I stepped out of the blue paper

of map water

onto an island in Greece

corrugated ground

world was all around me little blue skirt

and I wanted it down

in paper

sun rose and I wrote

sun rose

and then I wrote that I wrote it,


never in my life

wrapped in paper

have I ever so much

wanted it down



with 8 birds on a wire

or rather on 3 wires …

4 birds on 3 wires, one bird on one …

5 of ’em now on 2;

on 3; 7 on 4



all is well, I sang, little

learning how to do the harmony parts,

Saturday church choir, all is well

the blue sparrow babies have hatched

and we have kept the cats

away thus far

and one day everyone decides

to bale their hay

every single field down

all at once everyone

all at once

my friend is sick

sick and far away and I hear

will die and I

can’t get my head

to think it through

all is well, I sang, all is well

tho hard to you


so I wrote another friend

a goat on a spit for you, Brenda

we took a photo, I said, transcribed,

put it down, list, list,

sent a postcard

is it getting hot in here


I am cycling in the mountains

here is what I see

my arms stretched out in my shadow

three horses facing away

the cows have got out, one white

excuse me while I take this hill


don’t you call coward on me

I put the knife through the fish’s skull

once caught, all alone,

into its hot, hot brain, again, again

to be sure it’s just

here lies / the Idaho kid

the only time /he ever did

he transcribed bird bird bird bird in Pisa

counted them for comfort

because everyone needs a latch

comfort, comfort

knife caught hold

in a cliff

and if I die, I sang, and if I die


the spit is picking up, Brenda

I have a bug in my eye

I can ride a hill down w/ no breaks now

my one eye is streaming from the bug

the spit is turning fast, Brenda

a knife to the brain is quicker

than a whack, whack, more humane

I cannot get it in my head

I see a blue bird, a bale,

a white cow

every single field down

happy day, I sang, all is well

every single thing down, picking up


Transcript. A printed version of a recorded version of a sound. A written version of an audio version of a person talking. A mountain taken down. A printed version of a mountain, printing pressed. A copy. A copy of a copy. The letters pressed into paper resemble the tree’s branches. From the Chinese character. A tree. From which issues a bird sound. A printed version of the bird sound, representing the sound a mama bird makes as it feeds its baby birds. A black bird with orange parts. A chicken and

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Go to page:

Free ebook «Maps and Transcripts of the Ordinary World Kathryn Cowles (english readers txt) 📖» - read online now

Comments (0)

There are no comments yet. You can be the first!
Add a comment