W. Luther Jett

The Collector; Global Warning: W. Luther Jett

The Collector

I want to atone
for all the butterflies
I murdered as a boy,
dousing them with lighter fluid —
swallowtails, tiger, spicebush, and black,
monarchs and mourning cloaks.
I pinned my collection, brilliant wings
splayed open, onto a fibre board
which was probably laden
with asbestos — miniature Mengele
that I was, curating my prize
specimens. And all the fireflies
we caught in jars, who by morning
were dead —

I atone for them, too.

Because they were all
living creatures, never mine
to collect. This is not the same
as hearing a great singer perform
on stage, then buying the recording
as a keepsake, except in this:
The album never sounds as rich,
nor are dead butterflies — imprisoned,
inert — as beautiful as the living.

Now I am content
to watch them flit over flowery fields,
or to see the fireflies rising
out of evening dew. Perhaps
their airy weight can balance
their long-dead cousins.

Yet, I think atonement
is never enough.

Global Warning

pale bear on edge
of ice and water-blue
distances:
the seal
is on the gate, the rose
does not fade, but turns
brown under wind.

there was an explosion
in the circled square:
soldiers came running.

calculation spoilt
by fact — cold wall
scribed by sword-verses.
overhanging.
ineradicable.
a way of dressing.

a thousand islands
made of ice, floating south:
water-molecules
absorbed by sea.

and the bear swimming
against this
current, swimming
into the sun.

a rifle is only a machine.
a contrivance of levers,
and yet enough of them
will move the earth.

W. Luther Jett is the author of two chapbooks: Our Situation (Prolific Press, 2018), and Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father (Finishing Line Press, 2015). His performance piece, "Flying to America," debuted at the 2009 Capital Fringe Festival. Jett's poems have appeared in The GW Review, Abraxas, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Little Patuxent Review, and Main Street Rag. He is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland. To read more by this author: "Recessional," The Wartime Issue, Vol. 7:2, Spring 2006.