In Babylon

Dust. Flies. The sour smell of exhaust.
Muskmelons sliced open in the street.
Pools of green shade in hidden courtyards.
Blood-stained flagstones.
How does this butterfly missing half a wing
still fly so well?

A sound too deep for human hearing
makes the towers sway for a few seconds
before returning to their heat-struck shimmer.
Car alarms start up all over the city.
The butterfly doesn’t miss
a drunken beat.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


    1. Thanks, Pica. It didn’t start out being a poem about a butterfly (or drunken wisdom, or whatever), but I’m reasonably pleased with how it turned out.


  1. Wow. Nice stuff, Dave. I particularly enjoyed “A sound too deep for human hearing / makes the towers sway for a few seconds”



    1. Thanks, Jason! And congratulations on your own recent successes — the partnership with All About Jazz. Exciting stuff.


  2. Your poetry has hints of Merwin, my personal favorite. His “End of Summer” comes to mind:

    High above us a chain of white buckets
    full of old light going home
    now even the things that we do
    reach us after long journeys
    and we have changed

    Your blog is a hidden treasure – I look forward to browsing your archives.
    All the Best!


    1. Hi Jessica – Thanks for stopping by. Merwin may well be an influence, not only through his own poetry, which I’ve spent a lot of time with, but also through his translations — for example of Jean Follain, which I happen to have at my elbow at the moment (The Transparence of the World).

      I’m not trying to keep Via Neg hidden, honest! I’m just really bad at self-promotion. I’d much rather learn to be content with a few, attentive readers than to have to promote myself.


  3. Dave,
    this is amazing. Am I right that it is about Iraq, at least somewhat?


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