March 4, 2010

Wish Upon a Monarch

**Disclaimer: this is an old writing of mine, that I recently edited to make flow better.  I wanted to share it with those who read here.  It is from my time living on Long Island in 2005**

Wish Upon a Monarch [Sep. 7th, 2005]
by John M. Schmitt

For the sake of this writing
I choose an extended metaphor.
So I guess you won’t know
Exactly what I’m talking about,
But my message will remain the same.

When I speed home at night,
I stick my arm out my window,
Feel the aerodynamics change.
As I shift my arm,
I stare in silence.
In front of me are the Pine Barrens,
With disabled cars,
Remains of blown tires,
And so much history creeping in the Thick.
Very tired, my eyes burn.
When the wind rushes into the front.
This is nothing like driving in Buffalo.
Never felt sleepy in Buffalo,
Never felt weary.
But here, I fight the urge to crash
Because of sweet slumber.

My mind wanders
To the same place as always,
[So it never really wanders]
But metaphorically, wanders
Where all my writing invariably ends.

I pray
But this is not a supplication, praise,
Or prayer of petition I learned about in school.
I think God knows how great He is,
And it’s a given that He knows I think so, too.
In my belief system and mentality,
I also do not find frivolous prayers
[God, help me win the lottery!]
To be a worthy cause,
To be the Good Fight, if you will.
My issues are not of life and death,
Nor of impending moral destruction.
Instead I have been blessed from Above
And have no need to implore God’s power in that way.
But I do pray for one thing
One tiny gift
One spec of wisdom:

I say “Lord, clear my mind up.
I know all things in Your time, not mine.”
“Let me be wise, and follow my heart
and most importantly, Your Will.”
I sometimes recite a prayer I learned
By St. Ignatius Loyola,
Founder of the Jesuits.
It asks God to teach me
A whole list of different, noble traits
All relating to service.
“Know that I am doing Your will
And that You have done the same for me.”
This is how I keep my head in order.
My life, in all areas, needs to start and end
With the Holy Truth.
And it does.

However, this is not an affirmation
Of things I hold dear.
[I do that enough everyday]
No, the point is
I pray.
I pray as much as people daydream, if not more.
And, speeding home, most nights,
I pray to have this nervous feeling cease.

I feel like I have insects bouncing
Literally bouncing
In my stomach.
Interestingly enough, though,
While I do not necessarily enjoy the intial onset
It is something I remember.
It is not painful,
So that rules out any number of incidents
Associated with stubbing a toe, falling,
Scraping, cutting, chewing, swearing,
And so on.
It is not painful,
not at all.

Perhaps I’m nervous??
Maybe I forgot something?
Did I turn that off?
Did I fill that out correctly?
Do I have my phone, wallet, and keys?
No, No, Yes, Yes, and Yes respectively.
It cannot be nerves.

Perhaps God knows what this is
[No need for 'perhaps' in those statements]
And in my Mind’s Ear
I silently hear a whisper:
Fair enough. I will try.

I know this feeling
And I know the insects.

Monarch butterflies.
Bright orange, beautiful
Monarch butterflies.
Chugging around my insides.
Tickling, twisting, dancing sweetly.
Monarch butterflies.

Poking at me,
Reminding me
Reminding me of why I set out
Set out writing in the first place.

There are few people in this world
I whole-heartedly trust.
Trust enough to write about,
Or use any extended metaphors.
And really, while I speak of those around me,
This is about me,
Feeling something,
Feeling alive.
This is about me wanting to do great things,
To “Measure in Love.”
To plug in, and connect.

So I pray.
For Clarity.
And God grants it, like He always does.

Looking at my stomach,
From up here,
Butterflies are dancing,
As per usual.
I think I like that.

Slowly, gracefully
The tiny one breaks away
And passes into sight,
Cascading through me,
Until it is in plain view
6 inches from my abdomen.
[I’m far too enchanted
To smile, or try to touch it]
I just exist.

Darting to my right,
The tiny one vanishes.
But this is not over,
Because there ahead of me,
In my Mind's Eye,
There in a black sweater
And brand new jean skirt,
There sits the hurting,
Fallen Jennifer.

[Why such a sad, sullen thing
In such a beautiful happening?
God, why are You showing me this?]

She sits, unsure, with uneasy feelings
About what people can do to one another.
But yet, this is not a sad image.
[It is not possible!]
She may sit and sob, and seemingly sulk
Nod, cry, and nod some more,
She may sing, laugh, and reminisce,
Feel, fear, and grow nervous,
But here, in front of you, John,
Here tonight,
Here with the Monarchs,
Here in the Pine Barrens,
Yes, here,
She glows.
She glows as a fire-fly,
As a phoenix glows.
She glows as she shares the deepest,
The darkest, most untouched aspects of herself.
The hurt that seemingly lasts,
She shares it with you, John.

[But this is not sad! Nor is it hopeless!]As I glance up,
I see her outstretched hand.
She says “Here. I thought you might want to know.”
There is her Heart,
Hurting, yet still beating,
Still searching, still needing,
Still terrified.
She gives it not out of romantic gesture,
Or to “win me over,”
But instead shows it With painstaking care,
And a grace.
[all the while glowing...]
She shows me her heart
Out of Trust,
Overcoming the fear in her mind.
I ask her: “What shall I do with it?”
But as I do so,
I finally look up at her face,
Radiating, iridescently glowing.
She just smiles.
[She always smiles]
She laughs, looks away, and cracks:
“Ehh, just don’t tell anybody...”
Capped off with a wink.
I promise not to.

...And the Monarchs start dancing...

Feverishly, with a purpose!
They want me to know something.
Perhaps God wants me to know something.
Perhaps I want Me to know something.
It feels uneasy.

Jennifer notices.
“What the matter?”
But there is really nothing wrong!
In fact, it is one of those ‘epic’ times
When men recall 40 or 50 years later
Where they were, what they were doing
And who they were with.
And tonight, I am in the car,
Speeding home,
With Jennifer and the Monarchs.
No, I assure her, nothing is wrong,
All is fine.
All is more than fine.

[The soundtrack kicks in,
And frankly it doesn’t matter what it is,
Because anything beautiful would work.]
As I look forward,
Jennifer looks back,
Holding her Heart so tenderly,
So carefully.
I ask: “You see the butterflies, Jenn?”
She nods, as they dance between us
As one lands on her lap.
It, too, glows as it becomes
A part of her now.
“They’re not here for me,” I tell her.
“These butterflies are here for you.”
She smiles, sweetly, and looks up at me.
And she glows.
The Monarchs glow.
Her eyes glow.

“Why are they dancing?”

And it is then,
In that very moment,
In that space between
Fantasy and Faith
Where every atom in my being
Knows the answer.
[Even God is grinning like a fool]
There, in the car,
In the Pine Barrens,
With the windows down,
With the wind,
The burning eyes,
The praying,
The glowing Jennifer,
The Darkness,
The Monarchs,
There is the truth...

“They're dancing, Jenn,
Because I love you.
The Monarchs, you see,
Are my heart,
And you make them glow.
They are yours to do with
As you wish.
But they will always dance for you-

Jennifer fades, and with that,
Another ride home complete;
Another daydream at night;
Another wish upon a Monarch.


  1. An enchanting poem - I loved it in its first incarnation! It beautifully captures the exquisite and mysterious ways God speaks to us both directly and through others and how we can be bound to one another through honesty, trust, and love.