Celebrate #InsectThursday I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks about insects. Please include a short third person bio.


photo by Paul Brookes

Red Admiral

The summer before you lay down
cobwebbed to my windowsill,
I watched you with the painted ladies,
clouded yellows, orange tips, small blues
giddying among poppies, monkshood,
buttercups, honeysuckle, landing light as air
the same that carried you night
and day from Africa –

the distance I voyage, the high
and low notes – currents of hope
and fear for my children, their children,
deep things that surface, flit and bombard me
in a kaleidoscope of wings in flight
following the hues of my life.

-Kerry Darbishire

Painted Lady

They come in spring, lay their eggs
on leaves of nettles, thistles, mallow.
By August they devour
the buddleia at Fountains Abbey,
gain strength to fly away in autumn
to Africa, Israel, the Red Sea.

I admire the contrast of their five eye-spots,
their scarlet forewings
seen from below,
with the orange and black
when they open out,
tame enough to be photographed.

But if you get too close
they disappear.

-Peter J. Donnelly

Peppered Moth

Consider Malus Domestica and Biston Betularia,
attracting and attached,
a true contrast, a tree, a moth
in the orchard at Llanerchaeron,
a haven for the peppered moth.

Each twig-like caterpillar turns itself
into another still insect,
its wings invisible on bark,
surviving by disguise and night’s darkness,
as it survived the soot of the Industrial Revolution.

What came next made things better
for a plot of land with trees and moths.
As things got out of hand the moth evolved,
altered its course
as the apple trees grew.

-Peter J. Donnelly

Red Admiral

The bars on their wings
that give them their name
are not red at all but orange
like a robin’s breast
or red cheese.

Like them they’re
unmistakable, a common sight,
yet they can surprise us.
I saw one once
in November

on the grass
near Stamford Bridge.
It was as unexpected
as a fox in the city
or the news I heard that day.

-Peter J. Donnelly

Small Tortoiseshell

Once said to be declining,
this afternoon they’re in abundance
in hedgerows near the canal.
They fly in pairs,
one stops to suck nectar
from a bramble flower.
Does it vainly display its dorsal,
not minding my phone’s camera,
or is it so absorbed
it forgets to close up
and hide behind
its brown underwings?
Have these strange times confused them
or aided their revival?

-Peter J. Donnelly

Bios and Links

-Kerry Darbishire

lives in Cumbria. She has two poetry collections with Indigo Dreams, a pamphlet with Dempsey and Windle and a collaboration pamphlet with Grey Hen Press. ‘A Red Admiral’ is from her third collection,  ‘Jardiniere’  published by Hedgehog Press on June 10th.”

-Peter J Donnelly

lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary. He has a degree in English Literature and a MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales Lampeter. He has been published in various magazines and anthologies including Dreich and Writer’s Egg, where some of these poems have previously appeared. Last year he won second prize in the Ripon Poetry Festival competition.

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