This summer, we present a special series on poems as maps. Read the introduction to the series.

limitless is a faraway place
way beyond the rock-strewn ridge named possibility

it’s over there
through a tangle-thick forest the old ones call maybe
it is a fortnight’s trudge through what could be
and at least as far as a strong man can chunk a stone
—straight as the crow flies
a hard tough row across the mind’s breadth
a frog’s hair from probably and head high from unreachable
you can’t get there from here
but you can get here from there

unfurl the map
aim the compass well
cause true north does lie
dead reckon instead on reality
find yourself there

Editors’ Note

“Compassing,” by J. Drew Lanham, is from the chapbook Sparrow Envy, published by Holocene Press, 2016. Reprinted with permission.

About the Series: Poems as Maps

Our series on poems as maps features work by Elizabeth Alexander, Bao Phi, Joanne Diaz, Nikky Finney, Sean Hill, Andrea Jenkins, Douglas Kearney, J. Drew Lanham, Claudia Rankine, Barbara Jane Reyes, Sun Yung Shin, Evie Shockley, and Ocean Vuong.

J. Drew Lanham, “Compassing,” Places Journal, August 2017. Accessed 09 Dec 2022. <>

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