What does life now mean during challenging modern times? Palmer Smith provides 80 poem and prose pieces that consider the transformation of modern man in The Butterfly Bruises, a compilation of works that blend original new pieces with those which have seen prior publication.
The piece ‘Migraines, Please’ opens the collection with an acknowledgement that “There were such good times and there will be more. I know.” Although this short reflection is not entirely about Covid, the alienation and contrast between what was and what is provides a moving introduction to the poetry pieces that follow.
These are general meditations on states of mind and connections between humans and nature, travel and experience. Palmer Smith does a fine job of structuring free verse and prose in a manner designed to capture the literary and non-poetry reader alike, crafting compelling images of journeys of transformation and interpersonal experience. One example is the poem ‘Asheville’, a travelogue of love, alienation, and departure: “I’ll pick up the stones that resemble/your sour lonesome lime eyes./Digging is the action of how you love me.”
Each piece captures a sense of place and interpersonal connection and disconnection. Sections are introduced by contemplations such as ‘Shedding’, which introduces the pieces on ‘Pain and Relief’ with a powerful eye on the snakeskin-shedding pain and promise of transformation: “After each session, you ponder if your doctor sheds her skin and turns into another person or perhaps the snake she is, likely a rattle with fake eyelashes. what if Confucius were your therapist instead?”
What does it mean to be alive under such circumstances and conditions?
The Butterfly Bruises sleepwalks through a world replete with pain, change, and opportunities for transformation.
Its reflections are at once disturbing, thought-provoking, and powerfully important interplays between dreams and the realities driving them.
Literary readers seeking writings replete with wake-up calls for change will find The Butterfly Bruises to be reflective, visionary, and hard to put down.