The Map Room at the Dunham Tavern RSS

The Map Room at the Dunham Tavern

03 April, 2016: The Map Room at the Dunham Tavern


by Tom Kryss

The Map Room at the Dunham Tavern

Off a narrow upstairs hallway is the tiny room
where history has shrunken to the spread of sunlight
on a pile of books.   Maps of the earlier cities,
also known as Cleveland, were unable to keep pace
with the streets outside, the daily lottery tickets
and empty bottles at the curb, the bent security grates,
and now lay smoothed and wrinkled on a table,
rolled into cylinders like paper telescopes —
half unfolded and sticking from a shelf
as if someone had wanted to put them away,
yet keep them ready for quick reference.
This room with its mothballed squadrons of maps
may be one of the last high places in the city,
a bridge to steer from in the night,
so close to the broom closet that the doors
can be mistaken for each other.
The representations of old boundaries
and unpopulated space will get you nowhere fast,
but only if you’re going somewhere
to begin with.

"The Map Room at the Dunham Tavern" by Tom Kryss from The Search for the Reason Why. Bottom Dog Press, 2006. Used by permission of the author.

Tom Kryss lives in Ravenna, Ohio. His most recent book, In the Season of Open Waters, was published by Green Panda Press in 2013.


Choose a room in a museum that you have been to in your town. If possible, go there. Write a poem in which you do these three things:

  1. Describe the room, comparing it to somewhere else.
  2. Describe something(s) in that room, comparing it to three other things.
  3. Use a cliché, punning on it if you can.
Brett Watts
I breathe in and inhale the cobwebs

The grime of humanity still clings to them like the scent of past lovers

The last museum in the last city on the last day

The sun will soon bid me adieu in its final curtain call, its last gift of light

Then the long winter until Earth crumbles

Our entire legacy lies in the hall of human antiquities in the last room of the last museum

Do I spend the last day in awe of human achievement?

Or do I weep that it will all be forgotten in time?

The curse which made me the last is the gift that grants mankind a witness.
4/4/2016 9:19:47 PM

Love the last line. Great rhythm and descriptions!

A really clever idea for a poetry prompt too. I compared my favorite room in the art museum to a doctor's office. It's trickier than I imaged it to be.
4/4/2016 8:15:01 PM

Tom Sawyer
excellent, I am there as I read this poem.
4/4/2016 9:44:14 AM

Magnificent poem! I especially like the ending.
4/3/2016 11:46:11 PM

Tropical Butterfly Greenhouse
Lush and humid like the Costa Rican rainforest
Spanish moss, prickly pear trees, tubular flowers attracting prodding probosces
A jewelry box of golden pendants, hanging chrysalides in various stages of becoming

Butterflies surround, Fairies-a-flutter, eyes watching

A pond of rich goldfish
Wishes not yet granted
4/3/2016 9:57:13 PM

Kenia Cris
I love the poem and the prompt. I hope mine qualifies. :)

Cheers from Brazil.
4/3/2016 7:02:35 PM

Neat idea of place for a poem .i really like the local setting. Thanks!
4/3/2016 1:09:06 PM

This is a fabulous poem. I love the imagery. And the feeling of time and place as fleeting (at least in my interpretation) is great! Nice job.
4/3/2016 12:46:05 PM

READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.