Searching for the Butterflies You Crushed Last Night by Valax Malum

Source: Publisher
Hardcover, 61 pgs.
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Searching for the Butterflies You Crushed Last Night by Valax Malum is a collection that could trigger those with suicidal thoughts, but it also could help them work through some of those dark feelings by demonstrating that they are not alone.

The collection opens with an author’s note about the struggles of the author and cautions that the author has struggled to move past those suicidal thoughts and is in a better place. As a bookend to that, there’s a note at the end of the book discussions the need for validating feelings that are dark because the world is not all sunshine and roses, and those who struggle have valid feelings and those feelings need to be dealt with through therapy, creation, etc.

One element that did not add to the depth or message of the collection were the poems that were written so that you needed a mirror to read them. This strategy did not add to the poems’ meanings or value. It seemed gimmicky.

However, the narrator speaks to the person they were, the person that harmed them, and the thoughts that plague them with frankness. This enables to reader to not only feel empathy but also reflect on their own darkness. “and your face is scarred as you look away/and you’re half as bright as they used to say” (“half-moon” pg. 11)

Marks of the Beast (pg. 13)

bitter mornings crossing wires
little warning shots I fire
subtle blisters, cheek and temple
from the kiss of heated metal

Malum does not shy away from the deepest secrets or the harshest memories, but uses those to seek understanding and closure, as well as healing. In “All Roads Lead to Parsa” (pg. 17-8), the narrator pleads with the reader and themself to “change your shoes/rinse your mouth/spread your ashes//choose your road,/and follow it.” We can all grow and change, we just have to choose to do it and follow through, no matter how hard it can be. Searching for the Butterflies You Crushed Last Night by Valax Malum is an encapsulated journey in which mental health struggles are laid bare for the purpose of healing and transformation.

RATING: Tercet