Not Mine To Be; Danaus sentiensus
By: Russell Willis
Not Mine To Be
tempted to trespass on another’s soul
to take their time as mine
to take their “mine” to be a “me”
that ought not be mine to be
Idea lights upon brain
Resting but a moment, then off
Sweeping up and around the stem
Buffeted by currents of distraction
Drawn by the nectar of Mind
Pollinating grey matter with bits of moments
Scattering thought, insight, perception, sense
To the breezes of cognition
Then gone to gather other bits
Maybe to explore another Mind
Its essence to be gathered by another
As the honey of sentience
After a professional career that began in engineering and moved to higher education and later online education and ministry, Russell Willis is an emerging poet. With a Ph.D. from Emory University in social ethics, much of his teaching and writing is focused on the role of technology in contemporary society and culture. His poetry has been published in Vermont's Best Emerging Poets 2019, Meat for Tea, The MOON magazine, Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Steady Hands: Ode to Our Fathers, Gratitudes: To Our Mothers, The Esthetic Apostle, and The Write Launch.
“'Not Mine To Be' was born out of frustration I was having with some counseling clients who were struggling with a complex mix of power and identity issues. When I decided to try to put some of my thoughts on paper, not necessarily to write a poem, but mostly to clear my thinking, I started to write and let my mind wander through this minefield. I was left with several disjunct phrases on the page.
As I read them I switched from analysis to creativity and started the poem. One of the lines of thought had several words related to the unlawful or immoral uses of someone else’s property or life. One of the words was “trespass.” From somewhere came the phrase “trespass on another’s heart.” Another expression I noticed was, “take the other person’s identity.” I also realized I had put “me” and “mine” into quotation marks several times. The poem you are reading here emerged from thoughts, hopefully retaining the pointedness, confusion, and frustration that was spawned in my mind, and in the lives of those I was trying to help.
'Danaus sentiensus' is one of those stories you only get when you write. I had been concentrating on the nature of consciousness, sentience, for several days when I found myself in the yard with my writing journal. Entranced by a butterfly, I realized that while I enjoyed its seemingly random flight pattern around the flower pots, I was witnessing the pollination of these flowering plants. I opened my journal and glanced back at the plant and had a momentary vision of a brain. Each time the butterfly lit on a flower, I imagined a synapsis firing and then watched as a pattern of synapsis-firings appeared in my imagination.
Soon I had a poem without a title. I wanted to use the consciousness-as-butterfly metaphor and after some brief Googling, learned that the butterfly I saw was of the genus Danaus. I thus lit upon the concocted scientific name Danaus sentiensus—a title was born!"