madame butterfly
plays songs of love

on a broken heartsick mandolin
behind this curtain of sunlight
some would call glare

her tears mix with dewdrops
her dress is mistaken
and the wind in her hair
makes her whimper
even as she nods in the breeze
at all sailors passing

just in case
just in case

beauty is meaningless
to a flower
folly prescribed by
obscure tradition
and those who destroyed
her ability to run

but she stands and she sings
and her heart is made
from one shade of golden

heavy ballast to keep her

ripe punishment
for hollow dreams
of dancing





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25 Responses to “madame butterfly
plays songs of love”

  • honey Says:

    hollow dreams….ah, little butterfly, don’t despair.

  • laurie kolp Says:

    Beautiful, Kelly. I especially like your opening stanza.

  • brian miller Says:

    i am glad she stands & sings still…the end makes this rather bitter sweet for me…punishment for hollow dreams….can we not dream beyond ourselves?

  • Kathryn Dyche Dechairo Says:

    Always transfixed by the emotion and power of your words.

  • emmettwheatfall Says:

    I love the repeated couplet in the third stanza. May I call that a brilliant inclusion. It just peppers the poem in such a positive way. Excellent!

  • Claudia Says:

    love how you start this with the broken heartsick mandolin….the image grabbed me right away…and i would love her to be able to dance and not bow under those that try to define her..

  • hedgewitch Says:

    ‘her dress is mistaken…’ subtle, smooth and intricate, like patterned silk, this poem.

  • Tony Says:

    Captured me from the opening image of the heartsick mandolin right through to the punishemnt for dancing. Lovely writing, Kelly.

  • Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    I hope I also can say that I liked the start with the mandolin.. but even more “beauty is meaningless to a flower…” that will stick with me…

  • Marya Says:

    What a haunting poem! I love this stanza (among others):

    “beauty is meaningless
    to a flower
    folly prescribed by
    obscure tradition
    and those who destroyed
    her ability to run”

  • ayala Says:

    Bittersweet and beautiful.

  • Audrey Howitt Says:

    Beautiful write Kelly–her dress is mistaken–I do so love your work! PS–I was just singing Puccini–but not Butterfly–Mimi instead–when I sing a role like Butterfly or Mimi–there is so much opening of self–and so much left on the floor when I am done–another poem perhaps

  • Susan Says:

    Her fate seems unfair. If she were Oedipus, the gods would have rescued her by now. But there she is, still, neatly dissected in your poem as one who should have feet to run, but there she is, symbol of submissiveness in a golden ray of sun. She should follow her name sake, as, I think, you imply. But then there is the boy, sigh. It is not for herself that she stays. I think we are all partly guilty of supporting this culture (despite long sojourns in feminist politics)! She is more flower than butterfly.

  • Truedessa Says:

    Hollow dreams..may we never have hollow dreams as dreams are the key to life..beautiful poem written with a soulful pen.

  • kamana Says:

    such evocative writing. and what a stunning photo.

  • John Richter Says:

    Awesome…… I attended a wedding once, Kelly, with a three piece stringed orchestra in the makeshift outdoor chapel(?) area, I guess you would call it. They played while we awaited the bride and groom. They were very close to my seat and playing most beautifully. The woman playing the violin was incredibly striking, the most intense creamy pale skin surrounding large, dark eyes staring directly at me as her instrument brilliantly whispered the tones of Bach’s Ave Maria. I saw the corners of her mouth raise into the slightest smile as I’m sure she found my eyes entranced by the magic of her gifts….. The feeling was almost carnal, human gripping emotion invading my heart and soul so strongly that I – for an instant – imagined myself going to her and kissing her passionately while the sounds of her violin twirled my soul amidst the glare of sun behind her penetrating my very flesh…. Whew! And that’s what your poem’s like….. i love those moments in life…

  • Margaret Says:

    Beauty is meaningless to a flower.

    That was awesome. A great beginning paired with a classic heartwrenxhing story set to perfection with that photo!

    Well done.

  • Poet Laundry Says:

    Beautiful, Kelly. You tell a story rich with description in this piece.

  • Pamelasayers Says:

    Kelly, you have created some evocative imagery here. Very beautiful.


  • Gretchen Leary Says:

    I love the imagery in this here. Especially the breakdown of shades of gold.

    The ending is powerful. I always wait for it like a cymbal at the end of a poem and you nailed it.

    Absolutely beautiful.

  • grapeling Says:

    “and her heart is made
    from one shade of golden”

    this image will linger, like an after-effect of staring at the sun.

    ~ M

  • Kutamunku Says:

    She sounds like a ship that carried a thousand armies to reunite Paris and Helen

  • When is a flower a butterfly? When it’s a Butterfly Resonance Image Says:

    […] to a post by Kelly Letky, this snippet poured out from my […]

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