The way the godly Jupiter paints them,
each butterfly comes to life
upon his brushing of the canvas,
inanimate specter becoming animate
instantly away. Winged motion—
artifice and authenticity, the bottle-lorn genie
inside every genius.
Still, life is paradoxical—
ever since its creation 700 years ago
Jupiter Painting Butterflies, Mercury and Virtue
has made most viewers want to flop languid
into some bright hole of sleep.
(When bored is when we feel most alive,
the minutia of aliveness,
the semblance of what living forever would feel like
feeling while alive and foreverer feels
Even though Jupiter has alighted them with his brush into life, these butterflies look half-dead while flying away; what they were vs. who they are vs. what or who they might have been.
All my life I’ve been looking carefully
under rocks with flashlights at midnight,
been looking through holes in fences
for what’s hiding plain on the other side.
Solid yesterday, permeable today,
my surface of self constantly being fracked,
Fly, butterflies, fly!
Dosso Dossi’s painting was once forgotten about for 300 years, then rediscovered and celebrated, then forgotten again for another 300 years.
Fly, fly, fly away—
oblivion is free!
Amy Lawless is the author of the poetry collections My Dead and Broadax from Octopus Books. With Chris Cheney, she co-authored the hybrid book I Cry: The Desire to Be Rejected from Pioneer Works Press’s Groundworks series. She lives in Brooklyn.
Jeff Alessandrelli is the author of the poetry collections This Last Time Will Be the First and The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, forthcoming in 2019 from Burnside Review Press. The essay collection The Man on High: Essays on Skateboarding, Hip-Hop, Poetry and The Notorious B.I.G. was published by Eyewear.