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The "Butterfly Effect"

by alliyah

There’s a term in science
that is used poetically to refer
to the theory that the tender flutter
of a butterfly’s wings
could cause a storm -
a tornado, a hurricane,
deaths, destruction, the end.
The smallest force changes
the course of time, and nature.
And fate is an action that depends
upon the compression of muscles
smaller than the circumference
of a single paperclip.
This theory is styled “The Butterfly Effect”.

To phrase another way:
a grain of sand once moved
affects the entire ocean;
it stirs the particles around it
and the spider that was once safe
has been crushed by an avalanche of sand,
and the waves have risen
a fraction of a fraction of a centimeter,
so that the minnow didn’t mate
and the fish lost its dinner.
So there was nothing to feed
the fisherman’s family and
the course of a world has changed -
Because the absence
of a single grain
of sand.

I cannot tell whether
the butterfly that changed the weather
moved on its own accord
or if the breath of God
moved her tiny wings.
But I do believe that the shutter from
the rise and fall of a creature, so small
that I could crush with my palm,
could create a chain reaction -
a new sequence of events
that could alter my life.

I wonder; if a butterfly and a
piece of dirt that clung too closely
to the sole of my foot have the capacity
to cause such crucial consequences,
if the conditions and the surroundings
are right or wrong,
then what about my movements?
My actions, my feelings, my gestures, my words -
Are they so insignificant that the slightest brush
of another being could cause them to be 
irrevocably irrelevant?
Or might they be so significant that I
have the power to move mountains
and nations, changing the very ground,
the language, and the bodies that surround me?

The effect of the butterfly
is at once too massive and too insubstantial
for me to comprehend with my mind
that seems to only be good for telling jokes
or reading books, or functioning within the world
that is visible and tangible around me,
but is a poor tool to recognize
tornadoes, or hurricanes, or oceans,
or poverty, or death, or love, or truth.
But just thinking about the air rising
around the butterfly’s wings,
as the world’s temperature grows
and value of a dollar declines,
and imagining the storm that moves
oceans, and has the power to destroy
everything that I thought was important
makes me feel like the world is off my shoulders
for a moment and resting between the slender
space of air between two orange and black patterned
wings that formed in a magical cave of a cocoon
that I will never be able to see or control.
And that my job is just to try to appreciate
the small and the enormous, the bug and the ocean,
and know that I am both everything and nothing.
And that I cannot possibly understand or know
everything about the world, or life, or purpose.
But here I am.

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805 Reviews

Points: 1758
Reviews: 805

Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:53 pm
Aley wrote a review...


Overall, I like that you took the time with this poem to really delve into the idea of the butterfly effect, and explain it to the reader. I think that is one of the things that makes this poem strong. You really look at what it means, and how it affects your speaker, especially with the new example of it and how it can change us all.

What I think needs some improvement is how long-winded this poem is, because while some of it is really good, you repeat yourself quite a bit. We might already know about The Butterfly Effect, for instance, and in that case, then you wasted the entire first half of your poem explaining it to us again. If we don't know what it's about then why do you never actually tell us the name? I can understand giving two examples, but why are they disjointed? I feel like the leaps from point A to the end of the world have some gaps in time, and those gaps make me have doubts about The Butterfly Effect actually being effective. Why allow this if you want to explain it to us?

Overall, I think you did a really good job of writing this poem. I think the craft is there, but now we need to look at content. Focus on getting your message across clearly, without spending too long on a single subject. People can read between the lines, and I think in this case, if you jumped right to your point, you would be in easy water because most people know about this scientific theory and if they don't, then how you describe the person's effect will make sense anyway.

I hope this helps you in the future because this poem seems like two, one about what the butterfly effect is, and the other about what a human's effect would be.

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214 Reviews

Points: 14468
Reviews: 214

Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:19 am
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artybirdy says...

Just . . . beautiful. :')

alliyah says...

Thank you!

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127 Reviews

Points: 221
Reviews: 127

Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:28 pm
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Konijn wrote a review...

Hello, Tigerlilly here to review.

WOW. This poem is truly breathtaking. I absolutely love the way you worded everything, and the way I could imagine each and every thing happening. I could see that butterfly, the grain of sand, and the way each affected everything. It's brilliant, the way you took the "butterfly effect" and turned it into a masterpiece.

Now, the only thing I would critique (and this one is totally up to you) is the way you capitalized each line. Personally, I would only capitalize the beginning of each sentence, because I feel like it would fit better for this type of poem. Again, this is totally up to you and you don't have to change it, this is just my personal opinion.

Other than that, I really don't have much to say. You did an amazing job with this poem, and I can't wait to read more from you. Please keep writing, and have a nice day.

alliyah says...

Thanks for your comments Tigerlilly - I appreciate them! :) My capitalization was due to deciding I had a lot of ridiculous run-on sentences, so I was trying to mask that by just capitalizing every line rather than each sentence. But I think you make a good point. I'm going to play with the punctuation & capitalization when I get around to editing this piece. Thanks again!

Konijn says...

No problem- it's pieces like these that make me persevere to improve my own writing.

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9 Reviews

Points: 388
Reviews: 9

Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:25 pm
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serendipitous says...

Wow !! So have you heard this song called "Make a wave" ?? By Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato ?? You poem reminded me of that song .P.S it's sooo nice.

alliyah says...

Haven't heard the song - but I will give it a listen, thanks for the recommendation & the comments.

Ummm... You Muslim ? Me too ! hi... or shall I say Assalmwalaikum ? 0:)

alliyah says...

I'm actually not Muslim (I'm a Christian) - although I do have a middle-eastern name so you're not the first person who's asked me that. Peace be with you too, friend. :) How are you enjoying YWS so far?

aww... that's a bit shocking ! I was pretty sure you were Muslim because of your name. :) I have my exams going on, andddd bruuhhhh !! It's terrible. YWS is sooo nice !!! But I don't think I'll be back again until Sunday, cus exams ! I can't wait to surf around on YWS, but I gotta wait. Haha

Make sure you marry someone who laughs at the same things you do.
— Holden Caulfield