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Wednesday, 15 July 2009



File:Polyommatus icarus oberseite.jpeg

Specimen must not be wetted,
too sharp a point can mutilate
A rush of intaken breath

the pinning of the specimen
a nervous flutter

of wings at dusk --
a certain risk in trying
to wrest away

the net transparent
tough and light, yet
she slips through --

too wide spaces in the naming?
A film of language, then
that won't crush the wings?

speech, bobbinet
locked mesh --

where are
the air dancers

File:Polyommatus damon.jpeg

Locked in?
Silk or nylon
can be torn, and the ripping

sound of great wings breaking
free lasts --
in this moment

which is why
killing bottles are a must --

Wide mouth tube with chopped
up rubber band lips,
pinch if you must

but use
potassium hydrochloride
for clutching her with taxonomy,

and liquid carbon tetrachloride
for holding her there
in an image, close --

these are the collecting toxins --

File:Butterfly Luc Viatour.JPG

Polyommatus icarus
: photo by Kristian Peters, 2007
Polyommatus damon: photo by Kristian Peters, 2007
Polyommatus icarus: photo by Luc Viatour, 2006


Mariana Soffer said...

Enjoy this beautifull music with your beautifull poem and pictures

TC said...

Polyommatus icarus--some beauties

Polyommatus icarus feeding

Dale said...

Ah, lovely butterfly life here, Tom. Those "collecting toxins" ooze so close to things....

TC said...

... until some days it's perhaps difficult to tell the toxins and the things apart.

Anonymous said...

It is unbelievable how these creatures start their lives as larval caterpillars and end up displayed in a collection. In between, fortunately, they show off their fantastic magic all around.

Suddenly, "The Collector" by John Fowles came to mind...

Alva Svoboda said...

Chronology is one of the collecting toxins maybe associated with poetry? This one has flown free from my sense of where it alit in your history, whether years or days ago. It has an investigative reverence toward beautiful matter that seems to tip its hat to Whalen or Snyder maybe, a spare and questioning diction that speaks to the departure of Creeley off our wreck, but the intimacy of its speaking to this troubling place in nature is the absolutely Tom Clark distillation, new or old. And now that I've written these words, the net cast seems way wide...

TC said...


Yes, in working with this subject it's hard to keep from thinking about that book. The whole problem of "captures", and killing the thing you desire so that it cannot escape into its own life...


Thanks once again for your close-reading eye.

The distillation process here was a sort of boiling-off of the narrative residues of that curious neo-Arthurian-hillbilly-romance "The Spell". Or to stay with the present figure, a total re-cell-production in miniature of the larval idea from which that strange work was spun.