Two Poems by Tom Holmes

The Ephemeral Map
When he arrived in Alaska,
before it was known as Alaska,
before it was known to live
language and stories,
rivers and lakes, and towns,
he was lost with words.

A group of fishers grumbled.
He spread his arms. In the snow he drew
with the corner of his glasses
an X. He drew between them
a circle in the air and pointed
down with his palms.

He continued from the X
a line to where he began.
He punctuated with lakes
and mountains and a forest scene.
He drew a house at the end,
and placed his palm upon his chest.

He pointed forward. He drew
in the unconnected distance
a star. He pointed to the space
between. The fisherman laughed
and piled a snow ball in the between
and rolled it all the way home.

Lesson Plan: Teaching Terroir 1638 C. E.
The first time you’re lost,
scoop a handful of earth.
Rub a smudge across your gums
and tongue. Pocket the clump.

Do this at each occurrence.
When you’re home, redistribute
the dirt along your kitchen
table in regions like a king.

Where you were lost,
press your thumb and spittle
drool into the hole.
Here, you’ll grow your grapes.

And while you cannot mold time,
though it can age, or plot
experience, you can name
your garden, and water and twist the vines.

When you bottle vinegar and wine
and offer it out for trade,
customers will learn your land
by tasting where you found your way.

About the Poet
Tom Holmes is the founding editor of Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose, and in July 2014, he also co-founded RomComPom: A Journal of Romantic Comedy Poetry. He is also author of seven collections of poetry, most recently The Cave, which won The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013 and was released in 2014. His writings about wine, poetry book reviews, and poetry can be found at his blog, The Line Break: