Cathing Gnats With a Butterfly Net


Everything is a metaphor for everything else,
And language the jewel in the our crown,
Yet words are too flimsy a net,
To catch their subject.

Like trying to catch gnats with a butterfly net,

Our antique gossamer handkerchiefs,
spun from fine thread of speech,
Tossed casually or in earnest over barbed wire,
Falls apart at the first touch.

Compared to a purple artichoke flower,
Or the tentacles of an octopus,
A perfect golden ear of corn,
The canopy of the giant sequoia,
The midwest thunderstorm,
Words a such a silly, subtle way
To express or “capture” anything.

Even the lowly paramecium
Is more real than these words.
But that’s what we do–our gift.
We be so profligate with words

Like semen and salmon eggs,
ejaculating nonchalantly without effort,
The vast majority never find their target,
Don’t fertilize, never develop.
Dead on arrival.

Even the most poignant poem
Or soaring Shakespearean sonnet
Is the muddy bottom of a mountain meadow
through which the real river flows over,
Forever beyond our grasp,
Like sand through fingertips.

Wait! but all that’s a big lie, spun from a truth.
I’ve caught myself in my own spider web.
Just a cover. like the spots of a leopard, the shell of a hermit crab.

Rather: even the lowliest adjective,
The most sluggish worm of a word,
The most simple sentence, awkward and misplaced,
Is no different than the horse’s gorgeous mane,
Or the horsehead nebula for that matter.

The kitschiest contrived love letter,
The most melodramatic sarcastic slam poem,
Is no less a marvel than the courtship ritual of penguins,
The melody of a mourning dove,
The mating of jungle frogs.

So flimsy nets words may be,
but like girasoles and sweet peas
striving towards the Sun,
they reach ever upwards and outwards