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 a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals as well as several anthologies. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father, (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and Our Situation, (Prolific Press, 2018). A third chapbook, Everyone Disappears, is slated for release, Fall 2020, by Finishing Line Press. To read more by this author: "Recessional," The Wartime Issue, Vol. 7:2, Spring 2006.