By Jonathan Skinner b. 1967 Jonathan Skinner
the ardent ending
monarch’s ardor began
a large wedge-shaped
cloud in the spring
thousands were taking
a fluent thoughtful nap
re nocturne, alone
all of them witch-doctors
or in a Chinese dream
woken-up philosophers
the single golden rule
overarches, ark or pendant
limpidity of clouds

overlord my monarch
the length of two thumbs
light fills the windows
clings to sun struts
grows outward, leafing
monarch emerges steeled
blood jams into wings
all that tickling insect
clasped to cock’s fuzz
is a trance, inside syrups
a poison swapped about
bitter-tasting heart’s
spasm, an orange avoid

a million pages turning
the library of spring
spotted with shadows
the piteous monarch
propagates, replenishes
ejaculates homeward
to completion in summer
the monarch’s a cloud
woven of monarchs, one
leaf journey’s length
pulsating on, from ghosts
and milkweed deposits
a universe of monarchs

lazy winter monarch
on a warm day ventures
out for nectar, rubber
in the saps & rough stems
loves the poisoned milky
fields, sleepy his “eyes”
open above the coccyx
looking for black-smudged
veiny queens, wooed
by the harmfully harmless
lauzengiers, wing deep
slips between sign & referent
are not what they seem

monarch’s no mimic
no midas, this goldfeeler
melts you to the ore
nympho or mendicant
exasperating progress
discovered by millions
with wing covered sexes
gets sticky all over
in Zitacuaro it’s quiet
piteous monarch, go
roving, unfolding, trees
branched into flames
would that you lasted

Jonathan Skinner, “Unfolder” from Political Cactus Poems. Copyright © 2005 by Jonathan Skinner. Reprinted by permission of Palm Press.

Source: Political Cactus Poems (Palm Press, 2005)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Jonathan Skinner b. 1967

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Nature, Animals

 Jonathan  Skinner


An editor and ecocritic, Jonathan Skinner was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He earned a PhD in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2005. His collection of poems, Political Cactus Poems (2005), was printed by Palm Press using an ecologically responsible printing process.
In Rain Taxi Review of Books, reviewer Francis Raven described the poems in Political Cactus Poems as “firmly rooted in our current . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Nature, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.