Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Week 42: Captain's Log: March 7, 1988, How Low Can You Go?

   This week's book, How Low Can You Go? is actually one part of a series titled Captain's Log. The series is inspired by several 20- to 40-year-old nautical maps of the Florida Keys, Bahamas, and areas around the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. How Low Can You Go? is a poem that focuses on Key West, Florida.. However, it might be about a wider area. The poem was handwritten on a digital print of one section of a 27-year old depth soundings map of the Intracoastal Waterway between the Florida coast, Sugarloaf Key, and Key West, Florida. When maps are involved, one tends to think the boundary lines and landmarks are actually independent of each other... but often the perceived differences that labels create are only imagined... or simply a matter of perception.

the log entry...
This is the poem.

The map rolled out on the table
shows the depth soundings in feet,
2, 4, 1, 10, 8, 10, 4, 4, 4, 7, 2, 1, 1, 3, 2, 2
of the intracoastal waterway between Florida’s shore, 
the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge,
and the islands of the Florida Keys to the south.

The most famous key, Key West,
arrived in modern ideology
through the drinking spots and ramblings 
of certain writers, musicians, and actors;
and the close-gated compounds 
of a few presidents, politicians, and backroom big-wigs.

An area no greater than 7.4 square miles...
Key West now hosts a carnival 
of tourists and snow birds, 
who amble along the little streets
past the Sloppy Joe Bar, kiosks of flamingo snow globes,
and Key West’s most famous landmark,
a once useful cement sewer drain 
painted with the words
"Southernmost Point Continental U.S.A."  
Ballast Key, 9 miles south, is the REAL southernmost point.

close-up of Key West and the depth sounds around it
a transfer print of the cement sewer-pipe marker

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