top of page

Liana Kapelke-Dale

Systems of Navigation


There are no more explorers,
not really.
They died out long ago, once

they’d mapped every inch
of the earth’s surface.

What is there left to explore,
or even to see,
after we have forced the others
to show us everything that was theirs –

and then we took it?


The first real explorers are not remembered
by name but only by the stars they became
when they died.
Their light became our light
when we were still young enough
to be given gifts for no reason as though

there was still time for us to grow up to become
something good, as though
the cosmos gifted us things because

we were children and there was no reason not to.

The gods must have been crazy.

But then, who could have predicted what we would become?

Those first explorers trusted the stars,
the constellations,
to lead them where they were meant to go

and the beautiful thing of it all
is that they did.

Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.

Now we put our faith in GPS
to lead us – not where we are meant to go,
but where we have already decided to.

The question is no longer,
Shall we pilgrimage by land or sea

but rather, What is the fastest route
to my destination. Avoid tolls and traffic.


To understand, we have only to look
up at the stars
and down at the earth.

To understand, we can remember the Incas
Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo,
who followed a golden staff to where
they were meant to be –

a city they named Cusco:
Navel of the World.

To understand, imagine shining streets
radiating out from your own navel.
Imagine yourself streaming
through those streets at night
looking up at the black
that holds the stars in place:

you are lost,
you are golden,
you are free.

Bio: Liana Kapelke-Dale is a poet and ATA Certified Translator (Spanish to English). She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Juris Doctor from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She is the author of Seeking the Pink (Kelsay Books), a full-length book of poetry; Little words seeking/Mute human for mutual/Gain and maybe more (Irrelevant Press), a chapbook of personal ads written in haiku form; and Specimens, her first (self-published) chapbook. Her poetry has been featured in myriad journals, most recently in Cerasus Magazine and Full House Literary Magazine, and she has work forthcoming in Shorelines of Infinity. Liana lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her lovely pointer-hound mix, Poet.

bottom of page