Vox Populi

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Peter Makuck: Tiger Swallowtails

No mail again,
I’m walking from our tenant boxes
when I spot

clusters of fluttering wings
yellow with black stripes 
in and out 
of the white and orange lantana

then farther down the road
only one 
hovering and diving 
toward something yellow
on the asphalt.

Closer, I see
two more—
down flat on the black surface, 
one not moving 
the other barely
lifting a bright wing,
both likely hit by a car

when another car 
speeds by
and blows the flier away
but he comes back 
to flutter
down close 
to the one alive,
still moving its wings.


I’m sitting on our back deck with a beer. 
Sun almost gone, 
dark creeping from the trees earlier now, 
air taking on weight,
birds going quiet.
A cone falls from the pine.

Joe and Ray . . .   
old college housemates, 
good friends recently gone.

That swallowtail still hovers, 
hovers and dives.

Copyright 2022 Peter Makuck.

Peter Makuck’s many books include Long Lens: New and Selected Poems (BOA, 2010). He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (female). Source: Wikimedia.

7 comments on “Peter Makuck: Tiger Swallowtails

  1. Loranneke
    December 13, 2022

    Such delicate sadness — such a metaphorical tour-de-force by a poet I have admired for decades.


  2. Barbara Huntington
    December 13, 2022

    Took me a second reading, then a slow yes. Thank you


  3. John Balaban
    December 13, 2022

    Peter, I volunteer as an attorney for the Swallowtails’ Foundation and on their behalf I want to thank you for this fine poem.


    • Vox Populi
      December 13, 2022

      Thanks, John. I didn’t know you are an attorney.



      • John Balaban
        December 13, 2022

        Well, you caught me. I’m not. Nor is there a Swallowtail Fnd. I just liked my friend Peter’s poem.


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This entry was posted on December 13, 2022 by in Environmentalism, Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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