• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 04
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A Hot Kent Day

To remember it now is like recalling
a dream of a story I read as a child
A cornflower blue sky
fields ripe with harvest
crops wilting in the sun
A slow river, reeds listless

It was too hot to speak
so we found a boat, rowed downstream
Trailed our fingertips overboard
Just you and me, languishing
Our minds far away

We passed a great oak, coveted her shade
Wordlessly we moored, clambered ashore
Felt the cool mud of the bank between our toes
and with every step, I awoke

hundreds of butterflies
all burnt oranges and burnished golds
We stopped, watched clouds of them descend

upon our open palms, our bare feet
Settling like confetti, their wings blinking
And with this fanfare, the sleeping world
came alive

Read more >


The angry man described himself barren, useless,
but a reflected shine – gift of a copper ray
released him like the sun itself, once fogged by morning
now, in brightness, emboldening the sky,
made him king of drunken pools courtesy of dew,
as if the light had liquefied,
flexing orange crystals under leaves, promise under skin,
while insects coated pond and rivulet – a Venice of fresh life,
and diamonds filled his crevasses, gleamed blue-green,
while monarchs unfurled, floated slow,
and his shroud lifted, jettisoned his pain.
High on a hill, flowers arrayed bulky oak trunks,
life beat soft inside the petal silence,
he grew from quiet destruction, salient decomposing,
man and nature tempered by their clocks,
from mossy walls to saturated dark brains,
sun passed through his face, gilded new eyes,
ruby blooms loosened scenes from his calendar,
shuddering indifference like a bell tongue
showed him lightness, as imagination faked gravity,
the innards of his tired old ballet turned inside out,
new and clear as honey drip,
as water drew back, censure receded,
left the earth to its human findings.


Happy Wanderer

I am that I am:
a Monarch sunset
dripping in majesty,
sprightly yet delicate,
prone to forget
to wave goodbye.

I am that I am:
juicy papaya flesh,
slick pupil seeds,
a spicy kadala dish,
complex, but restless
to take flight.

I am that I am:
a Tiger Lily snip,
freckled flower,
prone to backflips
like Olga Korbut.

I am that I am:
stained glass window,
divinity’s disguise in
treetop limbo,
light’s crescendo,
migratory mind.

And while my flight pattern is discreet,
I miss my kaleidoscopic fleet.


Painted Lady

When is flitter counted swarm,
squadron from some sapphire sky,
sintered cobalt in a wisp?
Is there flutter on the lash,
nectar drunk ambrosia,
beady eyed, hypnotic pair?
Pinned by shadows, whither real,
porous pores or sealed with wax;
can swallowtails turn curlicues?
Sheen beyond expected glow,
droplets shopped in cut or paste –
swop chop in studio techniques,
air-brushed, hair-rushed, flicker whorl?
Orange and black scene so mundane,
nomenclature of earthy soles;
is caramel clear insect feed –
weathered tan suite, leather soon?
Are lips parting, closing down,
solid state or swallow hard,
as proboscis, harsher nose –
second stage if tasting wine –
scale lepidos, ptera wings?
Is painted lady, lotion-oiled –
wide-eyed-olive sounds a breed –
silent flicker, recognised?
There, here, sense flighty pheromones;
with sixth, said poets find to seek.


Spicebush Swallowtail

Inside, all vibration.
Galaxies made in wing, vein, song.

Compulsions beat against
the light, tremble against the most
specific things. Spicebush.
Joe-Pye. Thistle. Electrons
tell other electrons through tin cans
and strings spun of blue, cast
across the quantum foam.

Outside, all rules, low to the ground.
Six months, maybe seven—
forelegs drumming taste the chemistry.
One egg, maybe two. Everything
depends on a silk-stitched leaf,
a seep, cloud, gene-encoded glyph.

There is no unbelonging, or even
transformation. You are already
who you are supposed to be.


Taming the butterflies

They’d perch on us like living brooches,
we thought of everything, my sister and I,
made an irresistible, luxury boudoir.

of buddleia, clematis and pop-pom headed
dahlias, in a biscuit-tin lined
with juicy green hydrangea leaves.

They’d love it, feasting and attending
gentle training sessions,
where they would learn to become jewellery.

They didn’t understand their good fortune,
we had to harvest them as they paused
to bask on sun-warmed walls.

Their flutter of resistance repelled me
and the feel of the powder from their wings
lingered afterwards when I was in bed.

All night I dreamt of their angled legs,
their waving antennae, their extending
proboscises, their blank eyes,

I forgot their lovely wings. On waking
I opened the tin to liberate them and wept
as their limp bodies failed to launch.

How I hated them for being so weak.



We are what we feel in silence,
as we flit between shadows in the forest,
memories curve over us like a wave.
Lost in silence we are divided,
creating birth, from death, and
looking for an exit—
Truth without love is faultfinding.
Praising without love is mendacity.
Without love you could not have been born.
Love is the only thing to transform you
and to make you feel your transfiguration today.
We are what we feel, doubt is deadlier,
but fear cuts deeper than air.



Humans are waxworks —
shiny, polished skin-suits in the sun;
as unnatural as eating orange peel:
we lack fleshy substrates,
facial flickers, human semblances.

I’ve been this way for years.

Summertimes are worse
when waxy surfaces melt
as sweating Olympic athletes;
they once roamed the Earth
but are dinosaurs now:
obsolete as wooden airplanes.

Winter is kinder:
hiding my eyes, nose, mouth
with heavy snow;
I’m a static mountain
without the grandeur
or majestic power.

Yet I stand just the same,
bolted to the same fault-line.

Read more >


Every time I dream of you
I’m photographs of all the kitchens
I’ll never get to cook in, I smell
of clean sheets hanging out to dry,

and I move like a glass of red wine
spilt in a full theatre, splashing no-one.
And it’s only when I wake that I feel
like mismatched china in a castle
tea-room where the scones are too dry,
all the postcards are of somewhere else,

but I don’t care because there are still
so many things I wish I could tell you
like how a flock of butterflies is called
a flight, dolphins sleep with one eye open,
all babies are born looking like their fathers,
and when I had my tarot cards read

I learnt it's the fool who travels the furthest.


Not even birds

You said you would, and now you’ve gone,
the plane a pinpoint in the blue,
the empty sky.

I watch the empty fill with birds
and cloud and all the clutter that
is not your face,

and all I hear is whistling wind
through wings and feathers, nothing sings,
a sleeper wails.

Sunlight is fragile flutter-touch,
the air adrift in memories
of when we were

ephemeral as butterflies,
jay-bright as purple emperors.
All I have left

is flitter-flutter, so much waste,
the time, the love, the passion spent
on butterflies,  

and nothing fills this emptiness
of sky and blue and flutter-touch,
not even birds.


your promise

you were there, when
mother and i toured
the dana house
built by frank lloyd wright in springfield, illinois

commissioned by a woman who
dabbled in the occult
in reincarnation

the dining room’s
stained glass windows
trace you
in all stages of existence

s  u  s  p  e  n  d  e  d

full-flighted fruition

at ten a.m., when southwestern sun shines through
it bears you on each beam – gives
birth to you on each surface
you alight on

Read more >


so tight safe   holding  safe tight
    here   cocooned  I grow
 stretch  flex   feel   separation

 spreading   I  loosen  fear    
             break down

   child no more  I reform  legs
wings ready  for release  splitting  
               I continue   

    think   breathe   I am  anew   
new light  new freedoms  new opened
   dimensions   space   remade

I am  unlocked   I soar  unhindered


Like Paper Envelopes

Autumnal festivals, here in Patzcuaro,
unfurl in anticipation of their arrival:
black and orange swarms, fluttering in
from the afterlife—these winged songs
we sip from death’s cupped hands.

Each year, we listen for their emergence,
the release of what was once encased.
A thousand chrysalides ripping open
simultaneously, like paper envelopes,
delivering perilous migrant tales.

I know your journey, mariposita:
how caterpillars starve in the waning
tallgrass prairies, how herbicides cough
contagions upon your precious milkweeds.

It’s a milagro we make it through!
These Monarchs are like us:
sun chasers, flickering selves,
invocations of resilience.

This is how ancestors make their reentrance,
how eternity quickens in our hearts,
how we scatter the pollen of resistance—

Read more >


“Look!” The mind is running between the lines,
searching for time.
Drizzle morphing into downpour,
nonchalant, insouciant,
sashaying a slow dance in three-four.
As I watch the rain, my mouth opens
and a word tumbles out,
but the syllables vanish all at once into thin air ―
its origin has long been forgotten,
and the change is impossible to track,
as if the rain has washed away all the footprints.

“Come!” You’ll no doubt see the sense of it:
a mother holding her baby close to her bosom
so the alchemy of memories won’t be lost;
whispering into the mirror
before the shadows arrive ―
where the could-have-been no longer counts,
where words trap the mind,
where time refuses to stop
and the silver moon finds nothing to hide,
where... eventually, the ebbing of the tide...
Then you begin to ponder on a happy death,
one that steals into your dreamless sleep
after the day’s work is done and respite has come.
And you wonder, when sleep moves into death,
whether you’d be able to recover all the syllables
and restore meaning to the word that has left.
Hang the word on the line, let it soak up the rain!

Read more >

The Butterfly Effect

When breath becomes air, over here, air becomes breath over there.
Don’t mourn me, a life well lived, not cut short.
She told me that once, years ago.
Life is just a series of stories, some long, some short, some unfinished.
Death is just the beginning of a new chapter.
The characters maybe strange but their souls are deeply familiar.
A different form, on another day, in a new setting.

And so, it was, when they came, a swarm, a flutter, a rabble,
a kaleidoscope of butterflies to anoint her body.
Once aged skin, glowed golden again with the dewy mist of youth.
How beautiful she was in that moment, as the breath of her soul was freed.
I glimpsed her as she was meant to be.
Forever young.



There is something growing inside the chrysalis
buried in the pit of my stomach.

It will not emerge for months; part of me wants to keep
it there, silking, hanging from the underleaf.

The truth is I have already migrated. Possessions that once
meant something are in body bags at the bottom of the ocean.

All that matters now is the pudgy mass meshing together
over nine metamorphisms.

There are so many things I want to tell it, of alchemical
love and what it can conjure,

colours I see when I close my eyes – orange, black, white,
how the shape of it is made of these shades.

I will wait in limbo as it sheds off its skins, holding
onto something that does not not belong to me.

Creation is as unstable as it is lonely, and how lonely it will feel
when it stretches its wings and says:

I am a monarch now; watch me fly.



a low mesmeric
of swallowtail

black hairstreak
Titania’s frit-
illary orange tip V
twin sturgis 88
kiss of the western
pygmy blue

almost weightless
spots & splashes
camouflage eye-face
fool you
in the wild-

est fears
of apocalyptic

no monarchs
no spring


for this present, a cocoon

lose me baby,   lose     this
straddling      fluttering     kite of wind and colour
have you ever wondered of infinity,
what deep prosperity feels like?

give me midas, serene sunlight to take the edge
off from this winter. nudge me

back to the blue
satin of our forever       summers,    waves crashing,
the wooden lanchas with their twirling motors
like a wave themselves. golden slashes

opened like gashes in the twilight sky,        i
lost nothing but remember these paintings with bitter
sorrow,        with sweet romance.

in time i've sought to make these seashells
of memories fuel, re-purpose for a better me

here,                                                     today in this present;
the only place i exist and dodge with equal passion.

their power drives me forward, in the lonely hours
through birmingham's city centre, straight into its
jewellery quarter where i meditate in metal.

Read more >


I once held the tightly spun
white webbed cocoon of a caterpillar
up to the sunlight and watched
the dark matter inside
writhe and flop about, seemingly at war
with the transformation in progress.

Placing the fragile life form in a jar,
I waited.

I think of this cocoon as I watch your little body
twist and contort into knots on the floor,
tirelessly adding layer upon layer
to that thick outer shell
so no one can reach you.

I wait because I know
there is always a metamorphosis
beneath the surface—
the whole time you exist in that chaotic
state of transformation, you are shedding,
growing, becoming something new entirely—
this time, with grand wide wings
ready to fly.


Late or Never

Butterflies dance around my head
Wings diaphanous, tangerine sweet,
Fluttering on the gentle breeze.
I sit in a thick syrup,
Awaiting the day I too spring alive,
Brave in my fragility, flourishing in my freedom.
Moments pass – minutes, months –
The heavy syrup lingers,
And I, dissipating inside.
Perhaps I am not a burgeoning butterfly,
Perhaps I am only the nectar
On which the dancers feed.



It is now one minute since I joined the line of chattering voices.  The room is locked.  She is late.  The cool draft in the corridor sends shivers through my spine and I feel the butterflies rise in my stomach.  There are around fifty-nine species of butterflies and I have a large poster on my bedroom wall displaying most of them.  They are all beautiful but my favourite is the Peacock.

It is now two minutes since I joined the line which means that there is now only forty-three minutes left before the bell rings and the lesson will end.  The chattering subsides as Miss Mathias unlocks the classroom door.  I wish I had chosen a desk nearer the back.  The clock on the wall is two minutes fast.  I do not make eye contact.  Miss Mathias wants to discuss our homework.  There is a sudden eruption and she throws a large piece of chalk to towards the back of the room.  I cannot understand any logic or reasoning.  I can only understand fear.  ‘GET OUT’.  Trembling instinct tells me I am next.  I am unable to concentrate and all I can hear is fury.  ‘RUBBISH’, ‘THINK’.  I am unable to think.  I am only able to feel the multiple butterflies in my stomach.  The bell rings for our break and there is a hastening bustle of departure.  I walk out of the building and take a huge breath out towards the sky and watch the Peacock fly away.  There are seventy-two hours before the next lesson.


When Monarchs Mistake You For a Tree

A flurry of wings, like snowfall in the summer
soft against your cheeks, your closed lids.
Flutter them open to belong to this world of soft fluttering,
self-created little breezes.

Try not to giggle when they tickle
your ears like soft petals.
Let them lightly roost in the tangles of your hair
and mistake your lips for nectar.

Be shy but not too shy
as they congregate in the nooks of your arms
making you dance a slow wave.

Feel the weight of their weightless steps upon your skin &
keep looking up, towards the blue of sky.

Remember they migrate across continent
four generations strong, don’t mistake their beauty
for weakness.

Let them rest on your breasts, wings closed,
until they wake from warmth
and take flight again.


pitter patter, pitter patter

my eyes, like wings, are o'en
my mind, like flight, is o'en
my heart, like life, open

with spring the dawn, new days new sun
with wings they fly, bringing them home,
gliding flapping, fluttering free
flicker open, blinking to see

beauty unmatched, with artistry
flying canvas, nature's art piece
though swarmed I feel, no fear but hope
immersed with, kaleidoscope

with new bright plume, they've shed their truss
eager to find, their nesting place
they drift as one, winged rhythmic beat
roving yet home, though nomadic

and like them I, all at once feel
unique but one, spoke of a wheel
by fluttered flight, I look to dwell
with unknown they, a herd to tail
they fly so close, they sound so near
wings grace my nose, tasting my tears

Read more >

Chris Chrysalis

I dangled like ripe fruit
no one would be tempted to pluck
from a low-lying limb of a bush
with no particular charm.

I dangled the appropriate amount of time
weeks, years, eons trying to get it right.

Which I mostly did.

The color scheme and basic controls.
Ratio of lift to thrust was a challenge
but such matters had been worked out
well before my time came.

And now extruded from the dried husk
of my pod I crawl more than burst
upon the scene to be seen
in all my orange and powdery wonder.

Which mostly makes me an easy mark
for a black-beaked oriole or a pissed-off wasp.


A Butterfly Effect

Should butterflies alight upon your face
while standing awestruck by pareidolic clouds,
like cotton Lepidoptera, on a blue-sky afternoon
take it as a sign more potent than the free horoscope
read each month while waiting for take-out.

Winged kisses upon your lashes whisper
change is imminent, embrace or be left behind
in the field as it's plowed, ground into nutrients
to feed another's dream of a comfortable cocoon
from which to emerge a desired self.


Winged Secrets in the Chest

Stand still,
hold your hand out,
be patient.

Our youngest son,
eyes wide to any shift in the air,
any changes felt on the skin,
remained statue-like, poised,
ready to receive.

We stood in line for entry,
a hot house room with windows on the ceiling
and wings on every leaf.
This was the art of waiting—
the trickle of sweat
as we melted
in the indoor rain forest.

While other children cupped their hands,
reaching out into the space
of not yet appearing flight,
both of our sons gently looked
with gold-touched eyes of awe,
respect for habitat.
Never assuming they should possess,
they witnessed,
leaving this world untouched,

Read more >


Really? she said as her helicopter eyes batted the birds away.
You think you’re blue?
Look into my eyes for a fragile myth,
a fairy tale, all powdered wings
and wigs and charming lips. Come,
let us play cards in the butterfly house.
The loser gets to keep all the nectar,
each shining honeyed drop of it – lickable, exquisite.
The winner gets to fly if they’re lucky,
if they’re one of the charmed ones, if the wind
doesn’t batter them in great blowsy drifts
to a hurricane the other side of nowhere.
Tell me, are you azure, cobalt or indigo?
Are you the Hanged Man or the Hierophant?
Do you taste like sugared damsons,
all glisten and promise? Will you read
me my sky-blue future in a glass cup of butterflies?



Swallow tail wings ebon and yellow billow
flutter, land, and scatter rarified dust, fill each
gentle breeze with aerial grace as grains
of pollen anoint Tristan’s forehead
his innocence amazed, delighted,
enthralled by celebratory flights, nature’s rites
of passage—journeys commencing
eggs to larvae—molting into chrysalises
emerging fully developed: elegant, refined—
almost balletic—as adults glide over hills
pirouette in pairs through summer meadows.

Tristin sticks out his tongue, uncurls it
like a proboscis, dreams about sipping sodas
rather than nectar through his own spongy straw;
examining his evolving human legs and arms,
he recognizes kindred souls—lime green caterpillars
freckled with yellow dots on zebra like markings—
knowing he too remains unfinished, walking awkwardly
through adolescence as unsightly as pupae anxious to shed
skin; gangly, all thumbs, he checks mirrors for facial hair,
assesses post-pubic values, eschews social situations where
butterflies amass in his stomach instead of azure skies.


before i swam

before i swam in seas of butterflies & drank from plastic cups of lime green bubble tea, all while focusing on the upper limits of the sky (from dawn to dusk to dawn) & hoping to see images of limbs & laughter locked, times two, dressed in suede-trimmed sweaters & elbow-patched wools, dancing to/of/on easy streets, under boardwalks, & beyond choppy seas, i was of the understanding that love (& life) - the type of extra scoops of butter pecan, extra batches of snickerdoodles, & extra kisses of blueberry puckered lips on knotted heads - would last forever. slurp. before i swam in seas of strongly salted tears & drank from bowls of weakly flavored bouillon, i was an uninformed girl dressed in a regular uniform. undersized denim overalls with oversized brass buckles. belt button loops & games of never-ending hoops. he’d shoot. swish.  i’d retrieve. on replay. always of the moment. instantaneous connections. converse on concrete. all laces tied. until fabric frayed & knots (of head & hand) loosened. jerseys soiled. limbs slowed. swift turned sluggish play turned solitary. solo. card games of fish replaced games of horse. ultimately, i’d play solitaire at bedsides as i’d hope for an ace & watch my butterfly retreat into a cocoon. silent. lifecycles & cycles of life always curious. before i swam in night skies of aerial courtships & drank wishes upon shooting stars of white light & cosmic wings, i believed butterflies emerged from cocoons. & that courtships were of sand & soil. both marked & mingled. until forced to lift a small corner of a heavy oak all while carrying myself. snap.


A Dream Is a Gesture Towards Hope

To dream wide-eyed
as if merely gazing at the unknown
will make them come true.
The cerulean kindness of the skies
making little swirls in our eyes,
as we long to touch its blue kindness
As I take a deep look and try to take in
the beauty of everything around me
deeply steeped in my pores—
Slowly making its way to my soul
as the dance of the golden monarchs
fluttering around me,
weaves a dance of symphony
in the timid moments of our life.
Look far and beyond:
and we still can catch the glimpse of our future
that is neatly tucked for us,
birthing between the spaces of your breaths
as we gently lean into each other loneliness.
We dream a dream together—
A dream is a gesture towards hope, they say
and we carry the filigree ends of our desires
birthing at the jagged ends of our mouth.
Our mouth, An opening for a sin.

Read more >

Honest Spots

Milk weed makes monarchs poisonous.
Viceroy butterflies mimic
its spots to frighten predators.

After World War I, an artist
made ceramic masks
for disfigured soldiers,
so they could leave
their homes without
facing people’s revulsion.

People smear a smile under
haunted eyes.
Say ‘I’m good,’
when it took a conquest of will
to get out of bed.
They hope for safe spots
to surrender their true emotions,
but fear predators or revulsion.
Each of us can make space, one
honest encounter at a time.


One Good Turn

I escaped in the dark of night
Walked ‘til early morning light
Entered into the land of swaying trees
With dappled rays and buzzing bees

Deeper into the forest I went
Intoxicated by woodland scent
A caterpillar on the ground I spied
Poor wee thing, she tried to hide

I picked her up with gentle touch
She smiled her thank you very much
Then found a leaf, began to munch
Late breakfast, maybe early lunch

I wished I had something to eat
I was hungry, feeling the heat
Then spied a cottage in a glade
Maybe some food and lemonade

Come in she said, most welcome guest
Eat and drink and take your rest
I ate and drank and fell asleep
Woke in the garden, in a heap

Read more >

Screen saviour

I stare at the computer screen at my desk.
The Windows 98 screensaver stares back.

My skin is grey, my clothes are grey, my sandwich is grey. My soul is grey. I am a grey space in a greyer space.

No one notices me staring.

No one notices me stare through the hyper blue skies coaxing me to work.

No one notices I am holding down once kaleidoscopic dreams.  Now the kaleidoscope can’t spin or change direction.

Stuck.  Like my world.
Stopped changing.

Chrysalis stomach knots fearfully flutter, as I forget how to break through. How I used to see blue skies like the one on my screen saver. How I used to know so many shades of blue. How the top of cloud can shine so perfectly golden before the skies turn pink. How kaleidoscopic skies have existed. How to enjoy a moment of seeing their face lit up in the light of a sunset.

How I fear I cannot break through this.
How I fear I cannot remember how.

How to log off and stop saving screens. Stop staring at screens. Stop saving dreams.



Sometimes your eyes are hazel, sometimes ink-blue,
and I never knew which are the contacts, or whether
you can have both, night-switch like bat or cat or fox
or fritillary butterfly – they say those are day-creatures,
that nights are for parchment-like moths that crumble
gold in your fingers after death. But butterflies know
night like any of us, or better: a beautiful, scary nothing
as their caterpillar selves curl up, rest, and rearrange,
re-become, with nothing to reassure them but instinct
and pattern. Sometimes, their orange backs flicker blue,
and maybe it is all that sky around them glinting off,
or the astronomy they have absorbed, comets and cosmos,
and they dance on your lips, and you know they feel it:
nectar of galaxies, a shell broken. They cannot get enough.


Butter Flies

Your Souls are after the butter
that melts in my mouth, you witches
crawl without legs, break into wings
that swirl into flash and flutter.

Your spirits rise steal the grease
from my tongue, from the churn
of my mouth, turned and turned
thickening the slather of release.

Slather the bread of words,
a heaven of bread, heated in fires
so the belles of hell can ring
their tongues bricolage, be heard

so my soul lifts into gifted air,
a fine frittilary I soar high
in the company of language,
there is briefly no reason to care.


These Butterflies, Souls

I looked up and saw you, I’m sure it was you, these butterflies, souls, fluttering with the lightness of the now-possible, and I saw you up there, Dad, and I wanted to ask, and I wanted to know, and I wanted to say but there were wings, so many of them, blue leaves, flying upwards and I remembered things I’d forgotten and forgot the day, Dad, and my words, and I wondered which moment, which moment exactly took you, and how many butterflies, and how many butterflies you counted while you waited and waited and waited, counting how long life can be, just before we leave.


Whistler And The Butterfly

It was a small exhibition
but it stayed in my memory.
I had never encountered Whistler
but the butterfly signature did it for me.
“The Company of the Butterfly”,
what a wonderful concept!
It really spoke to me,
I even wrote a poem
about the company of butterflies.
The title trips off my tongue so easily.

And now I am put in mind of it again
as I look at this image
and see her
in the company of butterflies
ready to whistle up the wind



One wing for the right eye and two wings for the left. They gather even as the mortar and pestle crush the tissue paper, petal patterns into dust. Their liquids become dew, a polish coating my cheeks and eyelids. Soft dream tingles step into and across my pores; they usually leave me by now. The sound is the air whispering, turning as more gather. I hold up half a wing. “Look? Don’t you see?” Swinging damask golden brown, violent and mandarin, they do not care. I think they are tired, and even pieces are familiar enough. My hair shifts and presses beneath their search for rest. A tickle crosses my upper lip. So I pinch one between my pointer finger and thumb. I move quickly but there was no need since the slow fluttering is not afraid. I am about to do it, I am shaking, I am about to do it, but then it finds the top of my hand and unfolds there, as if suddenly falling asleep. My fingers release the wing, and I look up as they fall upon me. The sky is warm in my eyes.


Butterfly Love

You were my love
your lips sucking
nectar from my lips
my glistening cheek

But today you
fly off and another comes
lips, cheek, sweat
another you wings away

Another comes
sips my sweetness
flits off as
another comes
fans its wings
sucks my lips dry
desiccates my cheek

My heart shrivels
I look up
butterflies circle
deceptive beauties
speckle the sky
sear my soul

Oh, you and you
and you and you
love me again


If change I do

Let me unbridle myself entirely
break free from these chains and bonds.
Let me lean on my wings and fly westerly
on a breeze, and let my heart abscond—

And leave the past and find true meaning.
Let me disperse like a fog, a mist
and discover a rainbow still beaming
let me fall in love and with my heart enlist—

In all these social galas where I might shine
let the relics of the past burn charcoal
for I am a kaleidoscope, a picture divine
if change I do, it’s for the better, not to startle you.


Our Turn

The cormorant perched on the chimney stretched his wings
to dry casting a shadow like a gothic bat.
The river lapped the front door.

Time to check on the party. I waded through the one-time garden, heron high stepped my cabbages and departed.
Kingfisher did a flypast, all clear, step aboard. The magpies
in full attire, gathered planning strategy in my absence.

The boat moored in our fine city, I can see the troops gathered.
A large black bear is wearing the merchandise 'Our Turn Now.'
On a pedestal a bloated rainbow frog flashes its eyes at passers-by waving a flag with pride.

In the house the tribe is busy, we have a master plan. Some of our mutated bugs with their highly adapted mandibles are about to move onto the front benches, the back benches proving easier to devour. The steps have walked away in unison.

Other bugs are sharpening their teeth on hard words which they scribble in haste for other transformed members with pangolin tongues to secure in envelopes, licking two at a time
in order to swell the numbers.

Well done, 'Clear The House'      Our Turn Now.



For two dozen months, I have shadowed moths fluttering
in dark nights, towards vestiges of light. Fresh winds blow
this year, lure me to abandon tears. Dreams flutter by, released
at last. I see stained glass reflected in butterflies' wings.
My eyes colour the world once more, release longings
for communion. I pray, thankful to be here; still open
to fragile possibilities of shivered love, and strength
to deliver me from lockdown, free from confined fears.


Mona Lisa

It was an evening. At a park. In the distance, she
had looked at me and smiled. I’d said hello
and, smiling, quietly, she’d nodded. We’d stood there,
doing almost nothing, for hours. At times, I’d hear
her let out a light laugh in response to her thoughts.
She’d then look around to see if anyone noticed.
Once, after a long silence, she’d said – almost
unconsciously – did you know that butterflies,
when they age, their wings lose all colours? By the
way, they’ve a really big heart – running the length of
their body. Sometimes, I wish I were a butterfly.
Since I’m already full of them.


Golden Flight

words tilt upon the wind

like drips of gilded honey

a sweet warning is given –

so the sea does not dampen
fly not too low
so the sun does not melt
fly not too high

fine feathers flicker then quiver

like a painted lady he flutters by

full of hubris, only to fall and die



a mythical presence—
the girl had been
enchanted by the witch …
her curse—she'd live out her
days connected to and unable
to release herself from the
hold of the butterflies.

now, as simple as this
may seem, it is indeed
peculiar. neither the girl
nor the witch had managed
to agree to any terms
more suitable than this, so
here is where the girl stands.

one could say, "the colder weather
will surely free her for those
months," and you'd be correct
in your thinking, however, these
butterflies have one task and
they will surely see it carried out.

how shall it be then for
the girl to live with a
hold such as this on her?
that is still to be seen.
she looks to the heavens for
some sense of relief—
none comes.


The Soul Flies

the soul leaving through my mouth
is a kaleidoscope of butterfly
fully developed, wings now dry
fluttering off high into the blue
en route to freedom, to Shangri-la

after a week passed Thursday
lunch rather than brunch
at a gastro bistro, deep inside the mall
of caterpillar risotto (larve sui carnaroli)
augmented by veg, al dente and spiced

lead to excruciating stomach cramps
from precipitous pupal growth
as a metamorphosis deep in my gut
with maturing masses, the chrysalis
en pursuit of an exeat: my oesophagus

as Comma
Speckled Woods
Holly Blue
Red Admiral
Painted Lady too

Read more >


Here is recognized
a swarm on flighty wings.

The painted squadron, drunk,
is eyed with beady sheen,

is flicker flitter flutter.
Hair-rushed, wide-eyed, as if

caramel insect shadows
and a nectar-tasting swarm

are so hypnotic: lady,
pinned in mundane earthy

curlicues (with real
weathered leather), whither

to turn? Parting solid
sky, beyond sense, find

scene or state or stage
of air-brushed swallowtails.

(Words borrowed from Stephen Kingsnorth’s “Painted Lady”)



She’s so shiny flashing her highlights
against nature – does plastic attract butterflies?

Everything aflutter, agog at the state
of play… the wild industry of castration

in the air, building like a nineteenth century
overture but lighter than Ride of the Valkyries

carrying us without the need for drugs
into mad affray. Who’s afraid of the big bad?

Nothing as bold and definite as a wolf
in granny clothing; more Barbie and Ken

takes Janet and John down the cellar
for ever and ever Amen and farewell to arms.


Butterfly Wings

One summer my mother bought me butterfly wings
I wore them all day, twirling in dizzy circles around
the flower beds.

Butterfly wings transformed me into the Tortoiseshells
and Peacocks I saw flitting around the garden,
chasing patterns in feather kisses.

I took a hair band and made antenna from pipe cleaners
a proboscis out of straws, donned black tights
and stalked the Red Admirals.

My mother indulged me by blitzing soft fruit and bananas
so I could suck the sweetness through my homemade

My father said no good would come of this, so I left
to find sanctuary in the garden with the butterflies
well away from the arguments.

I hid in the buddleia bush, folding my wings to rest;
hosts of butterflies surrounded me and as they flew
I went with them, dappled sunlight brushing my wings.


Everywhere everywhere

I wear monarch eyelashes for you
     I could melt for you    like a candied doll   
       abandoned in snow
I collect pins     the nets fulsome with  
wings   pinned
        then free(d)   in 3/4 time by
next summer

blue   blue sky         I release
        to you
 a signature on blue note paper

a note signature on
        clouds all feather   weights of   
          scale    and wonder

everywhere    to   everyone  

  (if we make it through this winter)  

fluttering   upward

    a gaze that matches your eyes
      all gloss   and gossamer blur
all mannequin (about) the austere Polyxenes

Read more >

kewpie doll chrysallis (kangaroo valley)…

there’s a sensuality in the gum tree sap that oozes like fossilized amber;
weakening with the pulse of an unyielding southern sun.
in the kaleidoscope of butterflies appearing as unavoidable-
destinies you were never trying to avoid

you come to nature begging it to do some sort of work for you but “i am you”
it says—
organs of flight ready to engulf the eternal precipice,
whimsical sextets barely felt
pairs of antennae charge an invisible current…

i would have to spend longer and more time uninterrupted
in this cobalt hypnosis
to know its senseless urgency
as an ephemeral glow of infinite readiness

so for now i’ll stay a kewpie doll chrysalis with eyes
like topazes cut from a distant alarm
scanning fuzzy horizons


The Bearable Lightness of Butterflies

My face is a sunflower
succumbing to butterflies.
They taste me with their feet
their wings wide open
bless me with longevity,
a lightness I can’t fathom.
I keep still as a chrysalis
waiting for the big moment.
They do no harm, these love vagrants—
monarchs, yellow sulfurs, swallowtails
crisscrossing in endless assent,
their forty days on earth.
With blameless eyes fixed
on scattered clouds, I listen
for their gentle whispers,
telling me what it’s like to be guilt-free.



A blue light glare on the wings of serendipity
My God! what a hue—the sky against
a gaze of untarnished copper
Bent toward some angle of a future,
or perhaps a present—most certainly not past,
that guides an age from stone to bronze;
as if the change were necessary.
Hubris and avarice are gods amidst the
peopled steeples that construct humanity;
visions abound within the measurable
space that confines these thoughts.
How much space within and without!
What if a heart rattled with the beats
of many butterfly wings—different shades
of sunlight
as the nights die and breed day
and the days die and breed night,
The dusky moth seeks shine—
as we all must—but
is slandered by its sight in the sun



They emerge unbidden
From deep within
Or some dark well
They flutter they swarm

Vague and unformed
Some arrive fully crafted
Although rough edged
Beautiful colourful demanding

Like brutal butterflies
Each wanting to be first
These products of the mind
They must be nurtured

Listened to never ignored
They must be managed
They have to be controlled
Never allowed to be in control


Who Knew

You study your face
to remember yourself, find
your shape. The glass brims
with butterflies: one, two, then
more, silently fluttering.

Soon you forget what
you sought: the vision itself
displacing the search,
your dancing head alive, the
inside out for all to see.

Your thoughts fly free like
petals halved on mute hinges,
wafting the air for fun. How
many palms in the mirror
applauding existence now?

Ten, twenty, thirty,
forty they swarm and blacken,
your face a gorgeous
commotion. Who knew that we
held such wonder within us?


Buckler’s Hard, Hampshire

We left a mood at Buckler’s Hard,
that made the body water-tight,
the disused slipways of the yard,
that used coppiced oaks to fight.

We hardly spoke –
fritillaries flickered shade to light
to raise the hearts –
O hearts of oak!

A happiness of butterflies,
a streak of red, an eye or two,
paint butterflies on this face
(or anywhere) to mark a place
to lift a mood,
to change a view.


Butterfly moment: in-Affect

Another breakup’s cropped haircut
stylised defiant, like
Hepburn’s pixie curls, of innate poise.

Yet, this radiant: butterfly moment
of self-affirmed growth
dampens, none of her zest for life
showcased, upon that glistened face
of staunch belief
in all-things rays of sunshine, sanguine
and glisteningly golden, iris
of self-willed ardour
for life’s gaiety of sublime.

Phoenix capacity, to reborn triumphantly
from those accursed, ashes
of our most fantastically curated, dreams.


A Hundred Butterflies

She’s soothed in the colour
of old gas light, and
sways to a piano’s moan.

The warm, dense air
has put her in a weary sort of
satisfied mood. The moon

hanging pregnantly full,
and the stars up there
hum like bees at

the jasmine and honeysuckle.  
It’s a thick scent that
makes her head swim,

makes her feel light as
a butterfly’s shadow.
Is it madness or blasphemy
to worship the night,

with its floral scents that
caress the skin like
a hundred butterflies.

Never let it be said
that she wanted more
than a sweet smelling life.


Homing Instinct

Monarchs just know where to go
Shock of orange and black against electric California skies
Landing exactly where they should be.

I stood in their grove in Santa Cruz
Shoulder to shoulder with an old friend
But it was only the beginning of October.

Within a couple of weeks it would be full, she told me
Eucalyptus branches weighed down with clusters of butterflies
Swirling and flickering in shafts of evening sunlight.

We saw the early arrivals
Dazzle against the glossy leaves
Just two or three who had already made it.

The Monarchs just know.
When you know, you know.
I raise my eyes into the blue, wide enough for answers that aren’t there.

Can we come back to each other?
Can we come back from this?
I remember the butterflies, and I don’t know how to find a way home together.



Lengthen, cyclic persuasion
Gorging on random thoughts
Crystalizing perspective, before
Spin, spin, spinning
Sun dappled leaves
A wilderness of
Technicolour wings
Softly unfurl, reveal
A homage to vividness
In metamorphosis


Eyelids flutter
Flash of colour
The mirror reflects
The abyss of her reality
Painted red lips
Brash with uncertainty
Lacking vibrancy of butterfly wings
She watches, waiting
For the other to take flight
Envy insidiously creeping into her mind
She is bound in the rich tapestry
Of a creation which does not absolve

Read more >

On Comparing Myself to a Butterfly

In flight,
you are not what you seem.
you are never more honest
than in landing,
which may be why
you do it so seldomly,
why you seem to fear
the solidity of the ground beneath
your ever-so delicate, yet clumsy, feet.

Or, perhaps it is capture,
submission, and subjugation your heart fears -
the resulting lack of options
and of freedom
too appalling to contemplate.
Perhaps it all
just takes you back
to those dark and dreary days
when that was the case.

Or, maybe it’s just instinct -
pure and animalistic -
that keeps you flitting about,
as opposed to putting down roots,
like the other, planted people on whom
you begrudgingly depend.

Read more >


they float round our bodies
     brush nearly   clothes   hair   skin
    as hundreds swarm
painted ladies
    filling the air
          on their way from North Africa

there they go        cosmopolitans
     through fields of white asphodel
    tall   branched   delicate,

here they come    vanessa cardui
     into green woodland glades
    Cyprus cedar   olive   black pine  

they sweep in waves on their way to wherever
      unhindered by borders
settle a moment    wings open to bright

quiver    take off    cluster   pair
      splashes of orange and brown
    cream and black

in their silence   in the sunshafts they ride
      with one swerve of wings
    by the curve of a petal

one moment of warmth is all that they need


Painting my Mum’s Nails

I wait until she's asleep and her hands are still,
gently curled in her lap, before I turn them over,
place them palm down, fingers spread on her knees.

Lost to me in dreams, she stirs and sighs
as I stroke the brush down each slender, ridged nail
from pink half-moon to flaking, white-crested tip.

When she wakes, she will lift her hands
in front of her eyes, let them drift and flit,
drowsy as butterflies in a summer breeze.

For hours she'll sit like this, smiling
up at her fingers as they dance. Sometimes,
on good days, they'll alight on my face.



Eyes skip lightly over mine,
a graze of breath
parts my lips
and I freeze, hot
my skin tingling

I flutter quietly
clenching heart in fist
to release the hitch
step out of myself
regain steady rhythm
of beat, and breath

but when I look back
it's too late -
it's written all over my face.


Flight of Fantasy

When Miss Pink entered the room a reverential hush fell upon everyone.

“Girls,” she breathed and curtsied.

“Miss Pink,” we answered in unison and curtsied back.

This was one of her infrequent, almost royal visits. As a former prima ballerina she was drafted in at the behest of her friend, our ballet teacher. She came to put us through our paces and polish us up prior to our ballet exams. Although no longer as slim or young as in her performing days, she was light as a feather on her feet and we were in awe. Petite and lovely of face, upon which was applied a small amount of theatrical makeup. The up-swept eyeliner, flawless complexion and the bright red lipstick on her rosebud mouth were completed with her permanent smile.

Having gone through the required set pieces we lined up to show our personal choice of dance. The other three girls had chosen to be butterflies and fairies. I admired the butterfly from an appearance point of view, the symmetry of its wings, the colours, complexity of shapes of all the different species. But I wanted something more.  

“And you my dear?” queried Miss Pink.

“I would like to be a seagull.”

Read more >

Her Parting Gift

She said, when I die do not plant a marble stone
or an angel weighed down with heavy wings
But instead release butterflies over my grave
peacocks, mourning cloaks, painted ladies.
Watch them rise, these bright souls
like a fragmented fugitive rainbow  
and when you remember me,  
remember only how brief
and beautiful life can be.


At Least Thirteen

There were too many butterflies. Each begging for an answer. One promised a life of admiration. Another, adventure. With luxuries of fine dining. Passionate love. With gardens of every shape and size. She wanted to believe each. They took turns whispering, laughing, and imploring. It was too loud. She could not think. She was trying to find silence in the cacophony. For appearances, she laughed, or tried to, but it came out as a cough, a wheezing unforgivable cough. To her relief, the butterflies began to depart.

Good, she thought. I cannot handle this much attention. As soon as her coughing had subsided however, they returned. She looked up at the sky. She could see plain blue and plain clouds. And for the first time, she simply wished to see the sky, unfettered by butterflies.

But it was no use. The butterflies, each and everyone demanded her attention. Each seductive, each assuring her that commitment to their proposal would surely stack the odds in her favor. What favor was that? Thirteen were in her field of vision. At least she thought that was right; math was never her strong suit and the way they kept whirring around was certainly not helping. She did her best to keep track, deciding she would start with the four that had landed on her face. She realized now that the invitations she deciphered earlier on were coming from these specific intruders.

Admiration promised a life filled with a steady validation of her decisions. Well, she could certainly use that now in this moment of doubt and overwhelm.

Read more >


It’s baffled by conservatory glass —
this winter miracle flits to and fro
and I stretch out my hand, a gentle clasp
a fleshy cup to share imprisoned woe.
The flutter on my skin reminds me of
the severed nerve that’s trapped within my jaw;
the twitch, as stymied by the scaffold glove
it meets a wall of leg bone new and raw.

I am a modern miracle, it’s true
the treatment’s bark was harsh to save the bite.
Irradiation did its job and blew
the tumour far away and out of sight.

Outside I open up my hand — it flies
away, and I’m a quiet bridge of sighs.



The softness of the word reminds me
of the first time I heard Kölsch,
a dialect that still makes me smile.
Kölle Alaaf! Tünnes und Schäl.
I remember the clowns of Karnival,
processions, De Bläck Fööss, Kamelle,
and snipping off a policeman’s tie.

I gripped fingers soft as butterflies,
held upright by the bonkers crowd,
lifted my face to the confetti sky,
and felt my wings grow and flutter,
wings that shimmered with light.

Many years later and miles away,  
I wish I’d never said goodbye.


When the wishes do not die

They walk the streets, lurk in trees,
Stalk the bare shadows
Lying on the waters mossy and still.

They ride in trenches wreathed with slurry
Creating volcanoes under the sea,
Sobbing, becoming empty shells collectible as gifts.

Rising at times with the swelling waves,
Falling silent as the day ends,
Stealthily growing the wings in colors of cellophane.

Pivot less they return flying into my face,
Weathered with moist surprises sunshine piercing through
Glowing of unseen years and forgotten faith.


Butter in her eyes

The butterflies sought butter
in her eyes, her glowing skin
had been kissed by the sun,
bees brought her nectar
like their queen
though she was like a flower
drawing nature in.
She was spotted by ladybirds
who flew about her hair,
spiders spun for her,
webs of hair and eyelashes
fuzzy down n her skin.
Birds sang in her ears,
melodies and calls, music
followed in her wake
wherever she walked.
The pollen clustered
round her like a halo
in the air. The butterflies
sought butter
in her eyes



The noise of planetary cracks that resonated daily in the late afternoon made her raise her gaze from the copies that she was correcting. She looked at the flowers on the window’s ledge. Their “new” sun flooded the room with a golden light that she was not yet used to. She had arrived a couple of months earlier for the start of the school-year and, caught under the mass of the administrative burden, she had not allowed herself to release the stress that the voyage had implied.

Despite the preparatory training she had received and the acclimation programme that she was going through, life on that planet was turning out to be destabilising. Emotions surged untamed; she could sense them floating around and filling the air. Someone may call it aura. Her sensitivity expanded beyond her flesh, creating a halo that others could themselves perceive. She could see they were awkward. But the golden light shining there somehow soothed her feelings. She stood up and went to the window, brushing the flowers with her fingers; how are they called, again?

It had been promised: they shall be the ancestors of future generations capable of building new paradigms. That message had fascinated her. She dreamt of glowing days and pulpy skins. Days lasted longer hours there; she could still dwell on that dream for a while before returning to her work.


Wrapping paper

Liquid Gold, the label read
She punched its sides
And smacked its bottom
A dot of cream sizzled out

Dabbing it on her face
She covered the marks he made
The blues turned into a canvas
The purples became freckles of gold

Well done, the mirror replied

She slipped out of the home
Now glowing in the sun
She didn't realise
Burnt and bruised, her shadow followed


butterfly fangs

and to think
that the butterfly fangs could suck like that
that murky november,
shark smiles and iridescence
that I no longer remember.

above silken water ripples
glisten innocent giggles
clouds that float;
heaviness that sinks;
broken melting wings

in birth / in love / in life
cycles of
pus slime and goo, innocence
in broken cocoons.


Zela Listens to Lepidoptera

Viceroys rush toward your pearl crescents
hurry near the lustrous copper and cloudless
sulphur of your knowing lens, where the flutter
of Swallowtail glides past Painted Lady
and the mesmerizing dance of Monarch.
Mourning Cloak carves its life into question
marks as Gray Comma pauses to ponder
its continuance. The kaleidoscope swirls
as your interior stirs with the vibrational
echoes of lepidoptera, alters air molecules
into language, where the metalmarks sense
your angst, mobilize to communicate the task
at hand: “We are dying! We must petition
human saviors!”



Transformation happens slowly and then all at once.
An incremental, painful process:
Wrapping yourself, the little imperfect worm that you are,
in all your potential, spinning a cocoon of hope and future promises,
Comforting yourself with dreams of open wings and cerulean sky.

Transformation is far from instant,
Though it may feel sudden to the outer world,
inwardly you sit, quiet, and still, for eons
Ensconced in the idea of change, trying on a new identity privately,
Then disclosing cautiously to your most sacred circle,
The ones who can see past damp wings and a tear-stained face,
They see the You you are moving towards
And offer a shoulder, a tissue, an encouraging word,
Change is hard and the world can feel cruel
“Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

You dry your wings in the sunshine for what feels like ever,
They become lighter and you become unrecognizable.
The only constant is change.
Onward, upward, into the next dimension,
Take flight and look back
Remember all the past versions of you
The ones that no longer exist


Lost in Time

To the girl I loved in high school, I never
let you know how I felt. I was scared, maybe?
But your greasy hair, and all that flannel
on top of a killer smile and a shitty
trans am that sort of worked, sort of didn't.
I was crazy about you, but high school ended
we moved on, or at least I did. I don't know
what happened to you. I hope that you got
that car fixed, driving it a million miles
an hour down the highway, wind blowing,
sun shining, and butterflies, inexplicably,
landing on your beautiful, golden face.


Eternal Kisses

My brothers died in trenches. I succumbed to a nasty bacteria, but this is not a sad story.

When my brothers hid behind baroque fountains, stone vestals, beneath olive drapery, milkweed butterflies kissed my tear-stained face and, like a swarm of swallows, led me home.

When the allies stormed over the Eternal City, grandmother began storytelling. Our knees became feet, our bodies like armadillos without armour, eyes masked fear, fixed on the fractured foundations. Grandmother was always concise and so were her stories.

"Butterflies flap their wings rapidly and orbit the lifeless, open the gateway to another earthly adventure. The soul begins its immortality, navigating between heaven and earth and our universe."

Despite amethyst rosary beads peeping through mountains of rubble, grandmother’s words like her sun-bleached arms felt warm. While the stages of grief had already begun through the dusty streets of Rome, butterflies hovered over shades of grey, beige and black, spreading hues of hope and peace. The antithesis to the visible and tangible devastation playing before our eyes.

When Father Pietro read the Eternal Prayer, I lifted my heavy eyelids. Shimmering, wiggling antennae faced my bed, ebony eyes observed the room of faces veiled in black lace. I wearily counted ten. My ten winged friends rolled out their proboscises like a red carpet for distinguished guests. The monarchical disciples rescinded the requiem. My butterflies performed a fluttered frenzy as if a field of delicious milkweed awaited their hungry palates. Rest in peace – ha! If butterflies could talk.

Read more >

Blue Can Stretch

We gather and land where we can.
We avoid the eyes, they know too much.
We leave gaps for the sun to do its job
and remind us to keep showing up
every time we leave. We don’t talk
to each other, there’s no need.
I feel you pottering about
like a widower in the garden,
a dormant peacock. I like watching
the ones prepared to explore the sky.
The ones not willing to accept
that blue can stretch the length
of a lifetime. They are light.
They will float. They will kick.
They will set fire to ceilings.


Granddad and the Unbutterflies

Grandad only did a few jobs around the house.
The heart condition meant he mostly sat and smoked
or stared into the abyss of the white wall opposite.

When mum was frantic with bills and final demands
and we three kids were bouncing off those walls,
she would roll her screaming head into his nine pin legs and shout;
Take them out dad! Get rid of them now!

Us three would grab our hats and fusty butterfly nets,
buzz around him like crazy insects,
do the dance of ADHD glee.

Grandad walked ahead of us with his fags,
a Lowry figure with no idea of how to entertain children.
He blanked our eager questions;
Will we see a Red Admiral?
How long does a butterfly live?

We forgot butterflies at the park
and plumped for punch-ups and tag.
He found a bench and lit up.

Before the hour was over he slipped on that jacket
that smelled of old man and tension.
He gathered up the unused nets,
as we swooped and flitted around him.


Foreign Age

The seventies still simmer in
my soul… even though
fifty years have
sped through every
sparkle and flutter of
this and thats
coloring my
days and months and orbits
around the sun.

I thought, way back then, that
I owned life,
that I and every resurrection of
youthful indulgence was
mine to hug or
hurl into the vast here-and-
now and a nebulous forever.

I had dreams with
wings that kaleidoscoped with
psychedelic imaginings,
…flitting and sitting
upon and around my youthful

In the brush of a flutter,
sunshine and nightshine passed,
generations came and went,
leaving images of the mind,
giving hands to hold.

Read more >

Mother Earth

I am Mother Earth
birthplace of all living
and non-living things upon me

Be it animal, plant, water, dirt or sky
it is I who hold the key
to their creation or extinction

Those that are gentle upon my skin
may live in peace and prosperity
such as the lovely butterflies

Those that rend my skin
pollute my rivers and seas
will not see my gentler side

But the rising tides of my anger
and the swell of hot magma
from my very being and my core

It is I who rules this land of mine
all these millennium and I who will stay here long after you are gone


Catarina’s Butterflies

They were small and yellow, Catarina’s butterflies. Hundreds of them that rose from the scraggy lavender bushes by the chicken wire fence to obliterate her. Or more truthfully to pixelate her. At the same time trumpets sounded, bouncing off the surrounding mountains. She didn’t even seem surprised. Stood looking into the violet-blue sky like a Madonna, shiny-faced on account of all the cooking she’d been doing.

The butterflies resettled and the music stopped abruptly.

“Summer Symphonia,” she said and gave me a beer. We clinked bottles. I downed mine, the bottle being small and the beer easy.

“It’s the sound check about this time, isn’t it Bebê?” she said and took the baby from me. She settled into a blue sun-lounger under the pergola to feed her. The curve of her breast was golden against Bebê’s black hair.

“We’re so glad you and Skye came,” she said. “It’s going to be so much fun.”

I stroked Bebê’s cheek. Catarina and the baby had been here for a week on their own. Skye, my nine-year-old and I had arrived that evening, driven here by my big-shot sister who would return to Porto in the morning for work. When I agreed to help with their baby, I thought it would be a month on the Gaia coast not in the hot heights of Serra da Estrela.

“Not what you were expecting?” she said as if reading my mind.

“So many boulders.”


“And the burnt land.” I pointed to columns of black stick trees looking down on us from the horseshoe ridge. It had taken us thirty-five minutes to zig-zag into the valley and in an emergency it would take us thirty-five minutes to zig-zag out again. Read more >



Listen, I like butterflies as much as the next man. I like to watch them bouncing round the garden. Pretty things aren’t they, when they land on a flower and open and shut their wings the way they do? But we took the kids to a butterfly house once and there were these gigantic butterflies, enormous things; one of them landed on me and it really gave me the horrors. Since then, I’ve given them a wide berth. Plus I’m not that keen on caterpillars either, come to that. Anyway, we were in a beach bar in Spain and my girlfriend had put this honey sunscreen on her face. She smelt like a bloody cake shop. There were lots of flowering things behind the bar, those pink jobs you see abroad, and there were butterflies all round them. My girlfriend must’ve smelt like some kind of gorgeous plant and the butterflies made a bee-line for her, flapping round her. All over her head they were, on her neck, her hair, her mouth, even her eyelids, but she didn’t turn a hair or bat an eyelid. All kinds, some big, some small, some with splashes of blue and some honey-coloured, like her eyes. She looked up at the sky, cool as anything, like in a trance or something. I took one photo for Facebook then I admit I had to go and get myself a couple of beers and leave her to it. By the time I came back the butterflies were gone and she was very quiet for the rest of the day. The next day she went and bought herself some different sunscreen. I never said anything more about it and nor did she.


Kaleidoscopic Yearning

My dad said she had presence. An alien fairy from Jupiter. Only Jupiter was Birmingham. And her moon-eyed expression from glittered eyelids did not come from seeing too many stars. A marvel. Like Margot in The Royal Tenenbaums. Only more mentally vacant. A hush from the audience. A pause whilst no child made a sound. And then.

‘What is she seeing?’

‘Why does her accent ripple?’

‘Why is she repeating the word magic?’

Sheer joy at the unexpectedness of her arrival. Sheer joy at the opportunity to break rank. To snigger and cajole.

She gazed around, hours later, unable to understand why they had laughed. To her this all felt surreal anyway. A child, once there, now here. A thick, pink line existing in part of a Quentin Blake scribble narrative.

I always wondered what went on in her head. If anything at all. Maybe the powers of dissociative distraction were too strong. A hybrid creature. Plucked out of her Brummie bed by the BFG. Transmuted into a Georgian villa. Ducklings on the river. A young duckling in the hallway.

She changed her name. Became an anime character. Played with the form of who she was. Much more dramatically than the rest of us. She was ever so attracted to shiny things. Fish scales. Golden ears. Iridescent fabrics and Mediterranean baubles.

Gangly and vulnerable, but ramrod straight. Posture set. Twinkly sequins and Vintage hair pin sets. A modern day Mrs Dalloway. A repressed wildness, civilized. Read more >


The Metamorphic Moment

A kaleidoscope of butterflies
     seems to be drawn to me.
          I wonder
if I have blocked their passage?
     In a sudden flurry
they cover my arms, my face.
     Their stunning wings
slowly open and close. I’m frightened
     and yet I stand still.
I let them have their way with me,
     and they keep coming,
from as far as I can see thousands come
     in flutters and they are beautiful,
one of the good Lord’s finest abstract paintings.
     Each winged pattern slightly different,
          each a type, a kind onto itself.
Gracefully flit and fly around my head.
     Are they attracted to the sun
reflected on my shining face? the heat
     of my body? Who knows?
          —but I stand
in degrees of fear and awe as they 
     cling to my flesh.
Is it just a freak accident of nature
     or have I been chosen
to receive mother nature’s sweet caress?
Read more >



The colour of our skin
is like the dawn,
night's embers rising with
strings of blue,
our heads festooned with
pink and orange shades
and a smidgen of yellow.
there's ebony on the horizon
as the first rays fall on our faces,
fighting against blind figures of beauty
and all of yesterday's ironies.

This day is like our bodies,
a symbol of regeneration,
holding us still in the warmth
of our sensual embrace.
And we are like birds of a feather,
stepping out of our canopies
for the cause of our friendships.

Let them say,
"too much colour almost always
catches the wrong eyes"
Let us say instead,
"all our colours rise up
to the skies"

Read more >

Pausing with Butterflies

Looking up with childhood eyes, amongst a flutter of butterflies,
I recall the bright blue skies when clouds were only cotton white.

Soaring high upon a swing I’d overtake my shadow with caterpillar toes,
free from the grip of societal shoes, wiggling towards the light.

Barefoot in the gentle grass, hands resting soft on muddied knees, I’d stop
to watch the chrysalis, marvel at metamorphosis.

I’d flit far from flower to flower, resting gently to take in colour, savour nectar.
I tried to create and replicate wings of wonderful beauty.

But symmetry got torn and bent, folding paper over paint.
Ragged wings begin to fade, when captured.

But sometimes, I find my butterfly mind with buttercup hope
glowing under my chin and I promise I’ll make time for time,

make time for a time when flight and flutter were mine,
tender in the moment.



A world consumed with the consumption of
the lives of others
means that I open up any app
on my phone
and feel the stampede
of other people’s lives
crush me.

I squish out
through the gaps between
their vacations,
their romantic relationships,
their perfect skin,
their “ideal” bodies.

A global pandemic
drops out of the sky, and it
means so much extra screen time,
too much extra time to
stare at a life that’s not yours.

I try to imagine how I would explain
to my almost 92-year-old grandma
how I’ve had to “curate my feed”
so as to not hurt my own feelings
with a false reality,
both the one I’m viewing and
the one they’re posting.

Read more >

Once Upon a Time

How often we envy the butterflies, spirits of
the air, flashing their stained glass wings
while migrating on a breeze we barely feel
as it grazes our skin, sifts strands of our hair.

How often we wish we could spin a chrysalis,
take refuge in cocooned protection during the
bad days that surely come, wrapping our sorrows
in silk until we emerge bearing light.

I will lift up mine eyes, the psalmist begins
his praise-song, and we do, letting the heavens
fill them as I did once upon a time, cradled
in a baby-carriage, rolling along in a cocoon

until my mother stopped by the garden, and
we were charmed by butterflies, even the
little cabbage whites, all good fairies at my
cradle, now and then visiting to bless me still


Butterfly Effect

When she learned that her students were killing
insects for fun, the kindergarten teacher started swallowing
caterpillars to protect them.

She would let the worms transform inside her.
She would then pull up her skirt every time she would fart
so that the butterflies could come out of her ass

unharmed. The parents filed a complaint. Never mind that she farts
in her own time. Never mind that she swallows bugs
in private, collecting them in jars first before taking them in

in her own home. Never mind that no students have ever seen her
pull up her skirt. Infested with obligation, the principal hived
with the parents; opens the school gates for placards & loudspeakers.

All bugs are pests! All bugs are pests! All bugs are pests!
But the teacher stood her ground, proclaimed that adults are nothing
but vessels for the flightless, cocoons for nurturing wings. A horde

of parents swarmed the teacher. Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!
The splat of her body drowned by words chirping like critters.
For the humans! For the humans! For the humans!


Golden Hour

It’s golden hour
and your face is aglow with
a whisper of colour,
a touch of love,
a handful of warmth,
a kiss of light.

Your eyes dance with possibilities.
The day will never end
Maybe just for a second.

Blink and the birds will sing again.
Unwrap the sun like a quality street,
hold the gold to your eye
and smile.


To Get Back Home Again

once, The Slow Yellow became lit
and curled, silent on skin –
slumberous even
(with all-over brewing – as if in exclamation)

a feeling of nostalgia for a place
that only she could love –
the lost are there, addressed
loosely, fixed upon museum paper

and stuck on stickish thoughts –
the kind that push up and out of their
blue bladed gardens –
growing wings with invisible beginnings

she knows not to call them
for help or solace: they say their time
is not their time
and she sits, eyes wide open

in the crawl space of her mind


Migration Patterns

She didn’t want to go.
She was tired.
My wings are too fragile, she moaned.
I won’t last.
I won’t make it.
Just leave me here.
I’ll be fine.
We’ll all be dead in four weeks anyway.
Her brothers and sisters wouldn’t leave her.
They risked screwing up the whole pattern and the timing.
But they couldn’t just fly off without her.
Some wanted to.
You’re being dramatic.
Suck it up.
It’s hard for everyone.
You’re not special.
This is what you were born to do.
You can’t just quit.
But others refused.
What are we going to do, leave you?
In Nova Scotia?
In New Jersey?
In Kentucky or Louisiana?
In Monterrey?
Sometimes they pulled her along.
Sometimes she rode on them.
Sometimes she made it the whole day on her own and didn’t even realize it.
They arrived at the forest for overwintering.
Read more >



When I was about twelve Mr Grant told us a story about a girl who saw colours when she read words, or heard them spoken. The rest of the class was transfixed (purple) by the concept, but I was simply bemused (apricot pink).

I’d never heard the term synaesthesia (lime green) before. It had never occurred to me that it wasn’t like this for everyone. I assumed it was normal (sky blue).

Later I tried talking to my mother about it, but she just shook her auburn curls and said she’d call the school to complain about Mr Grant (terracotta) filling our silly heads with nonsense (ruby red).

After that I didn’t dare mention the animals. The bees that emerged from mother’s mouth when she was in a temper. The hummingbirds that hovered around my pillow each evening as I read my books before sleeping. The racoons that ran alongside the head teacher as she patrolled the corridors.

You’re the first person I’ve ever told. I hear your laugh (turquoise). ‘Me too,’ you say (honey gold). ‘It's like that for me too.’

And the air shimmers with butterflies.



Where you goin’?
Where you goin’?
You’ve flown so far.
You’ve flown so far.

Little girl with curly hair ran outside to play
The air was hazy and the sun ablaze
Reaching hands, reaching
She wanted everything from life
And all was for the taking
For the offering
*blows a whisper wind*
Dandelions fly as she twirls
through the tall grass
Lifting all that rests towards the sky
Reaching hands, reaching
Gilded butterflies she caught in her grasp
Running, holding fast running
Only to unfold and cry
As she grappled to understand why
She was covered in butterfly dust
She was covered in butterfly dust
Only to unfold and cry
*blows a whisper wind*


Butterflies Migrate

Butterflies migrate, the mariposa monarca
makes the two-way passage each year,
gathering with their communities in the
oyamel fir forests, huddled on hillsides
for warmth until the winter wanes
and together they dance their way to
the eucalyptus and Monterey pines
to give wings to the next generation.

Aren’t butterflies a symbol of migration?
a voice suggests as we bend over logos
in a church basement, surrounded by
little papers with laws and large papers
with chants, frozen in time for decades.
Yes, someone responds, but butterflies
are so fragile—they die by the thousands.

I lift my eyes to see through the pipes, the
pews, and the hardwood floor and wonder
if there are monarchs roosting in the cedar
canopy above the front steps, if they deemed
this worthy of a congregation site, to rest before
day returns and they raise antennae to the blue
beyond, to die or migrate by the thousands.



She asked me what represented me
I always say butterflies,
beautiful, graceful, free.

I feel the evolution
Patterns tracing every line into motion.
Interpreted as art,
Creation is by multiple forces

You may try to force it,
But there are multiple ways
To see the art in the unspoken.

I feel this deep calling.
Past life regression
taking me back to caged mornings.

Everything has its effect,
Beginnings turn into ends.
Circles of life

It's so beautiful
How you don’t quite see where you came from
You were once shy, hiding.
chrysalis lead to your continuum.

Read more >

All That Glitters

She had travelled for miles,
thousands to get to the land
where she was born.
Her wings were holding
out the last few yards
like the others that flew with her.

They spotted a golden glow
and thinking it was food
flew down to see.
She was so hungry.

It was a golden face with eyes
watching her as she alighted.
Her tongue started to probe
for sweet golden nectar.

Feeling disheartened
she had to move on.



You are a sunlight simmering
on dust-worn leaves waiting for
a rain lost behind flat long skies
on dry patches silence shrined

barely buried in a rumpled dress
by implication the fate of a word
is to be obsolete afterwards but
its echo survives in big rooms

beeping monitors controlled
monsters defanged creatures
claim your body leaving out
fingers on black keyboards

palpitating nights in driveways
edges of roads histories refuse to
live same as files once corrupted
do not open and make you a clown

heavy with levity of details of your
private pause in a park or city’s
dead end makes you a recluse
but early morning garbage men

rattle the utopia engraved on
many cards in your wallet you
would wish to lose and confine
to a bench withering beautifully.