Produced by Jeffrey Lilly Presents
Poetry and voice by Jeffrey Lilly
Voice recording, Command Productions
Music recording, Dubway Studios and Acme Recording Studios
Music composed by Jonathan Comisar
Piano played by Jonathan Comisar
Flute and Clarinet by Mike Cohen
Clarinet for the niggun by Ivan Barenboim


"The Butterfly flies" is dedicated to the writers and artists of the world who have died of AIDS.

The Butterfly Flies

This CD collection of poems (also available for download on the web) is accompanied by piano, flute and clarinet— so exquisite, so careful and exact in their reflection of the poems' meanings that the result, for both mind and ear, is clear delight and conceptualization.

From the rare combination of notes that quiver like butterfly wings (worth sampling here), to the utter joy of "Rainbow Folk," and sorrow of "The Planes Fly On," these poems are an endless aesthetic feast.

The butterfly, a symbol of transformation and metamorphosis first introduced in the title poem, "The Butterfly Flies,"  recurs in image and musical motif in the poem "The Planes Fly On,"   a piece wherein the narrator tells how his father perished "midst the sudden wreckage/of a lost plane."  The listener shares the shock and desperation that moves toward acceptance and transformation, by means of the butterfly:
  but the planes
fly on.
they like
the monarch butterflies
that suddenly reappeared,
their orange fluttering,
multitudes hanging
from eucalyptus trees like feasting children
upon a goddess's
beckoning breasts,
those heaving
in the breeze
through which
the monarchs came,
they darting to home
in Natural Bridges State Park
midst the nature
that my father
taught me
to awe.

Jeffrey Lilly's poems run the gamut.  He, at times, uses mythical figures such as Perseus, Apollo, and the three sisters of fate, to coax the reader to a world beyond the tangible, to a sometimes fanciful world, a sometimes larger than life world. This "other worldliness" is balanced, however, by a good number of poems that provide physical and tender references to passionate love.

And if that is not enough, this large and varied collection offers even more.  It provides several poems that call for justice, particularly in regard to the Jewish struggle for peace and unity.  For example, in  "My Judaic Age" the narrator dreams of a world:

  where priests
do not secretly smile
at tragedy's face,
do not secretly want
more victims
at bottom of pendulum's pit,
but instead openly dream
from the fathomless depths
of yet opening flowers
in myriads of colors

Jeffrey Lilly's social poems reassure us that we are all humans, all responsible for one another, and, in this sense, these poems, even the ones that might be considered profane by some, are, all of them, religious in the deepest sense of the word, reaching the place where humanity longs for, and at timesachieves unity.

At the end of this collection, after a poem that pays tribute to Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Laureate, Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated in 1995,  the CD ends with a haunting niggun, played on clarinet, by Ivan Barenboim. The niggun is a Hebrew melody without words, that is often religious. That tune is an appropriate ending for this collection of poems, which truly, no words, no review can adequately describe or name. One needs to purchase the CD or download the poems to reach a personal understanding of, and union with, these joyful, painful and profoundly human poems.

Mary Ann Sullivan
September 23, 2011