Poetry: Butterfly Needles | clivejames.com
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Butterfly Needles

Having grown old enough to see the trellis buckle
Like an embroidered dress
Beneath so many decades weighed in honeysuckle,
The old man’s idleness
Is honoured by this house as he sits late.
Until the fruit bats come he is content to wait.

Here in England, this is a different garden from that other,
Back at the start.
Here you could kick and scream and call out for your mother
Until you broke her heart
And nothing quite the same would come except the butterflies,
And even they with different squadron markings. Expert eyes

Say butterflies at dusk grow dorsal portals for receiving
Needles, or maybe pins.
That sounds to me like Nabokov relieving
The burden of his sins.
Forget about it. Just give me that old nasturtium scent
I breathed when young, and would again, now I am spent.

The nasturtiums, into which my silver Spitfire crashing
Made a banshee noise
But climbed back to my fingertips with wingtips flashing:
None of the other boys
Had anything as good, which made my fighting talk sought-after,
A first taste of the poisoned flower whose cordial is laughter.

Take it easy, mister. Sniff the real estate you’re ruling:
You, the last one here.
A butterfly died once and now the whole damned planet's cooling
At the wrong time of the year.
Stand up too quickly and you hear the headsman chuckle
And the words “Sleep well” are far too near the knuckle,
And for your next trick, you will disappear.