April 12, 2016

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Poetry Postcard 5

I mailed out the fifth postcard yesterday, January 5. One day to catch up on writing before next week's batch of poetry postcards go in the mail.

Today is busy for a Sunday. We'll finish packing up our holiday decorations because it's the Feast of the Epiphany. Our beloved Ravens face the Indianapolis Colts tomorrow at 1 PM -- Mr. S should be home from his parents' house in time for the game. And, I am reading with some friends at Minas Gallery in Baltimore, 4 PM. (Remember this cartoonification of local poets?)

All this, plus getting the kids ready to return, at long last, to school.

What I need in my life is some balance. That and a notion that one can persevere, but maintain a sense of lightness.

"A collection of original butterfly watercolors by the early
19th century artist Chevalier de Freminville" from
the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, Callaway Gardens, Georgia.


Trick mirrors reveal
the human face is never folded
in perfect halves. Perhaps
this is true of the butterfly, too.
Pin one up and there’s
a cuffed wing, damaged tail,
scales so thin with wear
sunlight comes through.
After hundreds of miles,
one might call them frail.

Laura Shovan

Speaking of lightness, this poem recently lost a first stanza.

It was about a 10th grade Biology project: trapping and preserving insects, identifying them and displaying them in a shadow box. Whether it was laziness or disgust, I couldn't do it. An 11th grade neighbor let me "borrow" some of the specimens from his project.

Remember when MFA candidate Jennifer Della'Zanna visited and we were talking about on-ramps in writing? That high school memory was a poetic false start. It was a necessary entry into the poem, but only for me as a writer. The butterfly doesn't need to be weighed down by my issues.
There is an extensive collection of insects at Nottingham's
Wollaton Hall, which Julia enjoyed photographing.
The most recent Batman movie was shot there. Wayne Manor?

What's this poetry postcard project all about? Read about it here. Want a postcard? Let me know.


Michael Ratcliffe said...


I like the poem. It works better for me without the original first stanza. For me, the butterflies pinned in the shadowbox reminded me of my father's insect collection, and I had a tough time reconciling the thought of my very gentle father capturing and killing beautiful butterflies, although I know that he did. My father is an entomologist, and looking at all those butterflies and other specimens pinned and labeled inside boxes was my first entry into his world (the smell of formaldehyde still sparks childhood memories-- probably aren't many people who can say that). He also taught me to sweep for insects (I think I mentioned this in a previous comment), and that memory became the focal point of the poem I wrote for him on his 80th birthday back in September.

Anyway, I like the poem, and if you don't mind, might send it to my father.

Author Amok said...

Hi, Michael. Thanks! Sometimes it is hard to kick away those on-ramps.

Yes, you did comment on another post about your father's work and how it influenced you. It's all about noticing, right?

Please do share the poem with your father -- I'd be honored! If you'd like to send me an email (or message on FB) with your address, I'll send a postcard your way too.

Tabatha said...

Like this poem very much! I hadn't read the original version; it didn't feel like anything was missing.

Linda B said...

Makes one feel rather weak to think of what butterflies do for their 'daily bread'. Your rejection made me remember that in the 'gentlemanly' time, around when Teddie Roosevelt lived, I learned that stores had whole cases of birds & insects to buy for one's office, to appear a nature lover I suppose, or an outdoorsman. I love the poem's nature, of butterflies' duality, & human's too.

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Tabatha. I appreciate the comment.

Linda, I agree. The naturalist displays at Wollaton Hall were shocking -- rooms and rooms of pinned up insects and taxidermied animals. Interesting, but of a different time and culture. Human/butterfly dual nature, yes. Thanks for picking up on that.