Poetry by Kenneth Salzmann

Walt Whitman’s butterfly

It’s as if Walt Whitman’s butterfly completes the composition, as if photographs never lie. It’s as if Walt Whitman’s butterfly perches on the calloused finger of the calloused hand that scratches the poem that never ends. It’s as if the soaring words will yawp and sprawl on butterfly wings, fluttering across the exuberant line, the expanding leaves, the poet’s insistent immortality. It’s as if Walt Whitman’s butterfly will pollinate the pages of other poets in other lives, leaves, lines, that they may yawp and sprawl in breathy cadences some more. It’s as if only Walt Whitman’s butterfly can complete the hazardous migration from century to century across born- and unborn-generations that they might sing with open mouths his strong melodious song of himself. It’s as if, however, on closer inspection in the beams of the moon, Walt Whitman’s butterfly wings are the rigid wings of what turns out to be a cardboard butterfly, after all. It’s as if the imaginary insect completes the composition, as if photographs never lie.


Kenneth Salzmann is a writer and poet who lives in Woodstock, NY, and Ajijic, Mexico. His poetry has appeared in Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers, Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude, Rattle, The New Verse News, The Comstock Review, and elsewhere. He can be contacted at kensalzmann@gmail.com

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