Boulder Poet Andrea Gibson Writes Through Love And War In ‘Lord Of The Butterflies’

January 23, 2019
Photo: Boulder Poet Andrea Gibson
Boulder poet Andrea Gibson.

Boulder poet Andrea Gibson weaves together love poetry with entries that explore protests, gun violence, homophobia and even war.

The complexities and depths of human emotion form the foundation of Gibson's latest collection of poetry, "Lord of the Butterflies,". Gibson, who prefers the pronouns they/them/their, talked to Colorado Matters about incorporating anger and humor in their work.

Read Poems From "Lord of the Butterflies"

All The Good In You

When all the good in you
starts arguing with all the bad in you
about who you really are,
never let the bad in you
make the better case.

Until We Act

The man asks what I think
the US should be doing about Syria
and I wonder how to answer that
from here—where the planes
overhead mean tropical vacations,
where looking up is what we do
to feel hopeful,
not what we do to decide
when to tell our children
to run from the air,
to hide the sunrise of their lungs.
My mother never had to teach me
that to breathe is to die, so I imagine
her hand covering my mouth
in the dark of our basement,
tasting her palm salted
with terror. I imagine
because to not imagine
is its own missile, its own gas,
its own horrid war.
I imagine because Syria is 6,677 miles away
but would still be called our neighbor
if her children were as white as our eyes.
I know the white of the eye
is the part that does not see.
The closest I might ever come to war
is the turning of my head.
Apathy is intimate, like singing a lullaby
to a grenade,
then drinking yourself to sleep
while it sneaks out the window
to explode a boy. I heard
there is a town outside of Damascus,
years battered by shelling and airstrikes,
where a father turned rocket debris
into brightly painted swings.
Where children build their joy
on what aimed for their body’s dust.
I heard one girl’s laughter swoops
high above the rest, her right
hand missing from a missile
that hit the market.
What do I think we should be doing
about Syria? Imagining until we grieve.
Grieving until we act
like we know what kind of laughter
is the sound of the beginning