Michael Klein on his poem, “Cartography”

Michael Kleins poem, “Cartography,” appears in our Spring 2012 issue, guest edited by Nick Flynn. “Cartography” opens with these lines:

I’m dumb about the world. To me, it always looks haunted,
impoverished—especially in snow, which returns it to black and
white.

Here, Michael Klein describes the inspiration for his poem:

What morality, what world view, exists inside a relationship that is happening in the same time of a world that is anything but moral? It’s a huge dilemma or question to capture in a poem, but something I’ve always thought about whenever I enter an intimate relationship with someone. How are we a microcosm of the world in which we live and how do we attempt, or not attempt to resist that world and forge a kind of paradise?

In this particular case, I was looking at how one person in the relationship fears the world and its wiles, its mistreatment of women, its being on fire – atrocities that somehow, miraculously feel larger and more threatening than the actual container they’re in. And how everything to this one person is measurably different than it’s ever been. And, yet, according to the other person (or maybe he’s the other) the world hasn’t changed very much at all. In the last 100 years, a map of world now is, pretty much, the same map it was then.