The Human Genre Project


Last Town on the Map

Girl walks into a bar.
Pour me a whiskey, she says.
No wait; better make it a double.

Can't serve you that, says the barman.
You're just a girl.
How old are you anyways?

Fourteen last week, she says.
And my daddy's already crying.
Now how's about that whiskey?

Can't I get you a cup of warm milk?
You can drink all the spirits you want
when you're grown.

Won't get grown, she says.

Girl walks into a bar.
Pour me a whiskey, she says.
No wait; better make it tequila.

Can't serve you that, says the barman.
You're just a girl.
How'd you get here anyways?

I followed the map, she says.
It's hidden under my skin
like an invisible tattoo.

Can't I get you a fizzy pink soda?
You can drink yourself silly
when you're grown.

Won't get grown, she says.

Girl walks into a bar.
Pour me tequila, she says.
No wait; better give me the bottle.

Can't serve you that, says the barman.
You're just a girl.
But see at the bottom there's a worm.

There isn't one worm, but two.
They must be drunk, she says.
They can't stop kissing each other.

My sister says I'll never be kissed
She looks at me like I'm cigarette smoke.
Will you kiss me, mister?

Yes, he says. I will.

And he kisses her real sweet.
And he smells of candle wax and tobacco.
And he tastes of salt and wine.

Where will you go now? he says.
This is the last town on the map, she says.
And she walks out of the bar.

Note by the author: This poem was originally inspired by the story of my aunt who died at an early age of Leukaemia. I am imagining the genetic information to be like an invisible map that she carries within her. It leads her to the last town on the map which is the one before her death. The poem explores the situation of a young girl having to experience as much as she can because she knows she won't be around to do those things when she is older.

Although the poem is not connected to a specific gene, it is concerned with the situation of having one's destiny mapped out within in the form of a genetic code.

Chaya Bernstein