Ink For An Odd Cartography

Battiste_InkforanOddCartGotham teacher Michele Battiste has recently seen the release of her fourth poetry book, Ink for an Odd Cartography. It’s a collection of narrative poems that map landscapes from San Francisco to Wichita to New York City, surveying the places and spaces where children talk to gravel, stalkers give pointers, bridges are naughty, and fallen angels kill time in night clubs.

Here’s one of the poems:

Ode to My New Food Processor

In my twenties, I chopped.
I crushed vanilla wafers, one at a time, by hand.
I hammered nuts.
Once, in desperation, I threw them in the coffee grinder.
That was a mistake.
Appliances are commitments. Like pets.
I found you in a home improvement store next to the blenders.
On or off or pulse.
That got me. Pulse.
My boyfriend talked about combining kitchens when I put you in the cart.
The instruction manual is unimaginative. Really limits your potential.
I won’t make cheesecake ever again.
It’s like a forced march.
But, boy, what you do to cooked kale and old potatoes.
I saved the warranty but didn’t mail in the little card.
Not sure how the administrative stuff works anyway.
And, anyway, you’re not breaking down.
Not even when I force feed you frozen cheese.
I’m talking about economy. Efficiency.
He thinks we should move in together by the end of summer.
My knives were growing dull and I don’t own a sharpener.
You’ve replaced things I never had – a potato masher,
a cheese grater, a lemon reamer.
I’m lying about the lemon reamer.
That’s something to register for when wedding
guests are habitual shoppers at Williams Sonoma.
Still, you don’t crush ice and I resent that a little.
I like my countertops uncluttered but now I’m thinking about a blender.
He has a toaster, a cake pan, dessert plates, a cooling rack.
My brother told me that I’m not the marrying kind, but my brother
doesn’t eat a lot of vegetables.
Add it all up and I’ve probably spent a solid month chopping vegetables.
You slice through daikon root in less than a second.
Is it wrong to find that thrilling?
It’s not that time is running out.
I don’t mean to put this all on you.
I mean, I’m sorry the coffee grinder broke.
I mean I’m thinking.

Reprinted by permission of Black Lawrence Press. (This poem originally appeared in 5 A.M. Magazine.) For more information on Michele and her book, visit To purchase the book visit