Review of Dosso Dossi’s Jupiter Painting Butterflies, Mercury and Virtue, 1555

By AMY LAWLESS and JEFF ALESSANDRELLI

Jupiter Painting Mercury and Venus
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
                                                                                                                 awake.)
 
 
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,
 
                             life-hacked.
 
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.

[Purchase Issue 16 here.]

Avery FarmerReview of Dosso Dossi’s Jupiter Painting Butterflies, Mercury and Virtue, 1555

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