20/30: A Handful of Symbols

We've dealt with metaphors already and it's a short stumble from metaphor to simile (like, totally, like).

But what else do we use to stand for other things?  What sort of symbols do we use, recognize and rely on every day?

We rely on maps (and google maps, I <3 u) to get us to new places or check on traffic.  We press our hands to our computer screens at pictures of places we've never been, as if, by pressing hard enough, we could step through and feel the breeze on our face.  We read books to escape into worlds of fantasy, or the future, or the past.  We read online gossip to live vicariously through other people, or snicker and say "at least I'm not as douchey as Biebs."  The list goes on... films carry us to new heights every year (in spite of the New Trilogy, I'm looking at you, George... hire a script doctor next time.  Or better yet, send somebody an outline and let them make it work.  Please.)

Make a list of things we rely on, or we allow ourselves to experience as stand ins for the real thing.  Maps, photos, facebook, sports teams (Go Ducks, you lucky bastards... stop relying on comebacks and beat the Jets into the ground, please.  kthxbai.), TMZ, the news.  Oh, the news.

Now, write a poem where you affect or step into this thing.  The map is suddenly a world spread out before you.  You can see the tiny people staring up at you, either in wonder or early onset shock.  You don't have to dream of punching somebody in the face when they get snarky on facebook.  You can do it.  Punch the screen and watch their profile photo spout blood.  Want Biebs to put on a shirt?  Reach through TMZ and give him a yellow, flowery shirt with long sleeves.  Give him a slap while you're at it.  He probably deserves it.  Stare at a picture of a far off land and feel the breeze riplle your hair.  Maybe you'll find sand and a Mai Tai on your desk when you're done.

Explore this newfound power.  Go down the rabbit hole, or have things cross over into your world.  See where it takes you, or vice versa.


Take a look at Map by Wislawa Szymborska, as translated by Clare Cavanagh.