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  • By Michael R. Burch

Where Does the Butterfly Go?

for the children of the Holocaust and the Nakba


Where does the butterfly go ... 

when lightning rails ... 

when thunder howls ... 

when hailstones scream ... 

when winter scowls ... 

when nights compound dark frosts with snow ... 

where does the butterfly go? 


Where does the rose hide its bloom

when night descends oblique and chill, 

beyond the capacity of moonlight to fill? 

When the only relief’s a banked fire’s glow, 

where does the butterfly go? 


And where shall the spirit flee 

when life is harsh,

too harsh to face, and hope is lost without a trace? 

Oh, when the light of life runs low, 

where does the butterfly go? 


Michael R. Burch is the editor of The HyperTexts, on-line at www.thehypertexts.com, where he has published hundreds of poets over the past three decades. His poetry has been translated into fourteen languages, taught in high schools and colleges around the globe, incorporated into three plays and two operas, and set to music by seventeen composers. A five-time Pushcart nominee, his poems, translations and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary journals, including The Lyric, New Lyre, Romantics Quarterly, The Chained Muse, LIGHT, Measure, Southwest Review, The Chariton Review, The Chimaera, Brief Poems, Poem Today, Asses of Parnassus, Writer’s Digest—The Year’s Best Writing and The Best of the Eclectic Muse.

41 Comments


winestone.poet
Mar 03

“Where Does the Butterfly Go” is one of my absolute favorite poems by Michael R. Burch, and I am very happy to see it here on The Chained Muse in all its melancholic glory. It is profound in its pathos—delicately exquisite. One of the many great things about it is its timelessness and universality; it can be applied to many tragic situations in life, whether it be atrocities committed against children (and humanity in general) or a more personal, individual tragedy. And of course, it asks a very important question that has sparked endless debate throughout history: what happens to the “light of life” after it runs low? Martin is right: this is indeed poetry at its finest.


- Shannon

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Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
Mar 04
Replying to

The two of you are making me blush!

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Bob Zisk
Bob Zisk
Mar 03

Epinikion


From the river to the sea,


Let there be such amity


That honey shall flow from the lion


And Sara and Hagar shall sing in Zion.


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Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
Mar 04
Replying to

I hope to have it up soon.

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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
Mar 01

This is one of the most profoundly sad and beautiful poems I have ever read because it captures the very fragile nature of existence and the harsh reality that all sentient creatures can so easily disappear. Then, to add another dense layer to this, there is the overhanging question - perhaps the biggest philosophical question one can ask: 'Where does the butterfly go?' - the butterfly being, I imagine, the spirit (or the life-force) that inhabits all living things. This is simply outstanding. This is poetry at it's finest.

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Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
Mar 04
Replying to

I must admit that the only butterfly I can recognize by sight is the Monarch.

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