Saturday, January 20, 2024

Swallowing Butterflies

  —Lynn White, Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain

Now the clouds are pressing down
making everything grey,
everything misty.
It’s impossible to discern which way
people are facing.
It looks like everyone
is facing both ways,
so it is impossible to know who to follow,
impossible to know which path to take,
which is the good and which is bad.

Then, in the old days
it was all so clear.
This was the way.
These were the good guys,
the brave guys with the guns,
sending out their scouts
from the circled wagons
of peaceful pioneers
in search of a better life
in the vast empty land.
Protecting them from
the bad guys,
the savages,
the cowardly braves
with the bows and arrows
and scalping knives.

It didn’t always go to plan.
But the cavalry usually
arrived just in time.
And the good guys
always won
in the end.

Didn’t they?

(prev. pub. in
Setu, February 2017)


Feed us!
We need more!
It’s not enough!
Send us more.
More and more
to feed the fire
more and more
and more.

More missiles and rockets
more tanks and anti-tanks
more aircraft and anti-aircraft
more ammunition
bullets, bombs and guns
without end and still more
to come.

But please
no more
of your rejects
those old things
kept in store
for a rainy day
it’s raining
and dust
And we need
state of the art munitions
straight off the line
to feed our need
for more and more.

It’s piling up
the dust and the debris
the rubble of lives in flames
fed by weapons
and more weapons.
The tears of the displaced
are not enough
to douse them
so they leave,
when they can,
a low priority
as there’s no meat on them
the women, children and elderly.
But the meaty men must stay
to fight like soldiers
to the death
to be spat out
with screaming shells
and vomit
pain and fear.

But victory will be ours
and victory will be mine.
I’m still strutting my stuff
and still standing proud.
The last man standing
I’m planting my flag
in the desert of dust
but I’m still hungry
so feed me

(prev. pub. in Dissident Voice, 4/17/22)


When she saw the green lights
her first thoughts were of Triffids.
Of course she knew they were imaginary
but was less sure about the green lights
which enabled their freedom,
an unintended consequence
of the activity
of some government or other,
a terrifying aftermath.

And who knew what the aftermath
of this green sky would be.

She could still see them
glowing above her.
So, not yet blind,
she thought.
But then, she reconsidered.
Metaphorically speaking
perhaps we were all blinded
a long time ago
when the green light was given
to the Triffids
who are already rampaging.

We just haven’t noticed yet,
such is our loss of sight.

(prev. pub. in New Verse News, 9/1/21)


I think I am beginning to despise them more,
the apologists.
At least the perpetrators have a certain honesty
and visibility
to go with their power.
Like all fanatics they are focused forward.
No lateral vision.
But the apologists are safely waiting
ready to lend a hand.
like all fanatics, they are focused forward.
No lateral vision.
Unable to see the context.
or ignoring it
or denigrating it as
But some,
should know better.
They understand the context
but with eyes and ears
they too join the chorus,
ignoring the context
or denigrating it as
I am beginning to despise them more
even than the perpetrators.

(prev. pub. in Former People, the Journal of Bangs
and Whimpers,
May 2018)


such a fragile incarnation
of what went before.
Warriors, according to the Mayans,
dead warriors ready
to be transformed,
transformed into butterflies.
surely too fragile
to make warriors,
too easily destroyed
in their new metamorphosis.
But  they can wait,
they can wait
for their next transformation
So take care if you swallow a butterfly.
vigorous egg layers
that can reproduce themselves,
mutating again to find
new ways to fight back,
to invade the invaders,
enslave the enslavers,
the new possibilities.
So take care if you swallow a butterfly.
And I can wait.
I have been waiting a long time
to see Henry Kissinger choke
on a butterfly.
I can wait.
Perhaps there’s still hope
that the butterflies
will worm their way inside
and destroy them all.
I can wait.
So take care if you swallow a butterfly.

(prev. pub. by Vanguard Press in
Rise Anthology, 2016)


Today’s LittleNip:

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.

—Howard Zinn


—Medusa, with thanks to Lynn White for today’s fine poetry on the difficult subject of war~


A reminder that Francesca Bell,
Connie Post and Luke Johnson will
read in Fairfield today, 1pm;
Sac. Storytellers Guild meets at
Sac. Poetry Center, 2pm;
Out the Way on J features
poets and musical guests
in Sacramento, 7pm;
and Maidu Museum features
Native American Flutist Al Striplen
with music, poetry and artwork
in Roseville, 7pm.
For info about these and other
upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
the daily Kitchen for happenings
that might pop up
—or get changed!—
 during the week.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Find previous four-or-so posts by scrolling down
under today; or there's an "Older Posts" button
at the bottom of this column; or find previous poets
by typing the name of the poet or poem
 into the little beige box at the top
left-hand side of today’s post; or go to
Medusa’s Rapsheet at the bottom of
the blue column at the right
 to find the date you want.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
Guidelines are at the top of this page
at the Placating the Gorgon link;
send poetry and/or photos and artwork
to We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!