The Butterfly Effect

Meg suggested that I wrote a poem on ‘the butterfly effect’. I’m not sure why. But, as you can see, I created a highly original title for the piece. I’m good like that.

Here’s the theory. I’m sure you are all familiar with it. A butterfly flaps it’s wings in China and a week later there’s a tidal wave in Samoa. Or something like that.

What I take this to mean is that everything, everyone, is connected. Someone smiles in Africa and someone cries in Tibet.

But there is something that made the butterfly flap it’s wings. A subtle change in the wind, perhaps. And what caused that change in the wind? Was it a heatwave in Indonesia? That heatwave may be the result of forest destruction in Brazil. And so on and so on and so on …..

So the wings of a solitary butterfly at one particular moment in time have an impact on all of us and on everything. Just as all of us and everything influence the flight of the butterfly. Everything happens for a reason. Or for no reason at all. Who can really tell the difference?

Not that my poem really has all that much to do with it.

***

You take a breath in Texas

I exhale in Japan

It’s unbreakable. A nexus

This game. This little plan

Everything directed

Every moment bought and sold

Everything connected

Everything has been foretold

You’re a captive in the prison

Whilst I am chained here to the mast

When there’s no hope, there’s no decision

Because the future is the past

Yet I can hear your thinking

Every thought entwined with mine

While our boat is surely sinking

We are doomed. But feeling fine

It’s a book already read

It’s a song already sung

All our words already said

Our race already run

It’s the butterfly effect

And that’s how it’s meant to be

We act. We don’t direct

But still you flap your wings for me

***

Cold feet.

Another spin-off from Cyranny . It’s not supposed to mean very much.

(Actually, walking in the snow in bare feet can be quite exhilarating, don’t you think?For about a minute?)

***

Walking in the snow

again

Been walking since I don’t know

when

No word from you

except bad news

Forgot myself

Forgot my shoes

I played my cards

You rolled these dice

Leaving me to freeze

Ain’t nice

Your love’s gone cold

so heaven knows

I’ve lukewarm thoughts

with frozen toes

But hoping. Hoping

now and then

That sunshine might

arise again

That snow will cease

that ice will thaw

That you will be

my love once more

***

Butterfly

I have heard the word ‘butterfly’ used as a descriptor for people who struggle to make strong emotional connections – people who float from one romance to another.

I think it has something to do with the image of a butterfly going from one beautiful flower to another without ever landing – hovering over beauty as one might over a black hole – aware of the danger of being consumed by gravity.

I certainly don’t interpret the term negatively. I love butterflies.

Anyway …. Cyranny wrote a piece with her usual insight and delicacy but instead of focussing on the content of her post I became, instead, obsessed with the image that accompanied it. I wrote her a poem. It doesn’t mean much.

This is it.

***

I don’t really know you
But I recognise your style
I don’t really like you
And I’m not flattered by your smile
Don’t think that I am looking
When I see you everyday
Please don’t think that I am listening
If I hear you, anyway

I’ve never really talked to you
I’ve not heard a word you’ve said
Please don’t think that thoughts about you
Interrupt my time in bed
Don’t imagine that I think of you
When taking off my jeans
Don’t think that I can’t sleep at night
Or that you interrupt my dreams

But what is this thing about you?
What is this strange appeal?
I’ve never really touched you
So I don’t know how you feel
But you’re feeling free and floating
Flying faultless, free from sin
There’s a butterfly within you
And it’s painted on your skin

***

The truth is that I really do like Cyranny. We all do.

Insomnia

Anyone who knows me well will confirm that insomnia is a non-stop affliction that I deal with so much that I even forget that I am dealing with it (I don’t deal with it well, for the record). But it’s not nice. Or healthy.

Something arrived in my inbox today, quite coincidentally, making mention of the issue via Maria Popova at Brainpickings and detailing a technique that Patti Smith uses to cope with it. I have mixed feelings about Ms Smith. She is a very creative and talented individual, to be sure, but I find her to be what I can only describe as ‘attractively repulsive’. I don’t even know what I really mean by that.

Be that as it may, I did like the little story she uses to get to sleep. I am willing to give it a go …..

“I imagine myself a sailor in the time of the great whaling ships on a lengthy voyage. We are in the center of a violent storm and the captain’s inexperienced son catches his foot in a length of rope and is pulled overboard. Unflinching, the sailor leaps into the storm-tossed seas after him. The men throw down massive lengths of rope and the lad is brought to deck in the arms of the sailor and carried below.

The sailor is summoned to the quarterdeck and led to the captain’s inner sanctum. Wet and shivering, he eyes his surroundings with wonder. The captain, in a rare show of emotion, embraces him. You saved my son’s life, he says. Tell me how I can best serve you. The sailor, embarrassed, asks for a full measure of rum for each of the men. Done, says the captain, but what of you? After some hesitation the sailor answers, I have slept on galley floors, bunks and hammocks since a lad, it has been a long time since I have slept in a proper bed.

The captain, moved by the sailor’s humility, offers his own bed, then retires to the room of his son. The sailor stands before the captain’s empty bed. It has down pillows and a light coverlet. There is a massive leather trunk at its foot. He crosses himself, blows out the candles and succumbs to a rare and wholly enveloping sleep.”

This is the game I sometimes play when sleep is elusive, one that evolved from reading Melville, that takes me from the mat on the bathroom floor to my own bed, affording grateful slumber.”

I doubt that it will help. But it will be something to think about whilst I’m not sleeping

Who am I?

I get asked this question quite a bit. My honest answer is that I am a pathological liar and I assume that any further questions are thus rendered meaningless.

Nevertheless Rory, at aguycalledbloke has asked them anyway, and so I will answer with my usual degree of disarming honesty ……

***

What is your favourite sweet treat?

Gee. That varies from day to day. I have broad tastes. Something soft but still chewy. Something I can really get my teeth into, in other words. And something that is not afraid to bite back, tenderly. In truth, it doesn’t really need to be all that sweet.

Oh, whoops. I misread the question. I thought you asked who is my favourite sweet treat.

If you want to really relax – what is your go to?

See above.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

OK. This is like they do in those personality tests, right? Where they ask the same question over and over again, but cleverly reworded, to check for inconsistency?

Well …. I want it put on record that I don’t feel guilty about it at all. Not every time, anyway.

***