tiger tiger

cinnabar moth caterpillar on ragwort.

Q. What’s black and white and red all over?
A. A sunburnt penguin.

or, possibly,

Yesterday’s newspaper.

I guess that that traditional gem becomes less and less appropriate as an answer as newspapers are now printed in colour, and, anyway, we tend to read them online as a never-ending rabbit hole of hyperlinks, not as a monochrome printed artefact.

If I asked you, “What animal has orange and black stripes?” the chances are that you would think of a tiger, despite the fact that most readers here are far more likely to come across a caterpillar like the one in the photo than they are a big cat of any type.

cinnabar moth caterpillar on ragwort.

It might be expected that the orange and black beauty caught feasting on a ragwort plant would turn into a beautiful black and white tiger moth.

Tiger moth (insect)

In fact, it’s going to become a cinnabar moth, which is neither black and white nor red all over, though they do have some rather lovely red highlights.

Dead cinnabar moth

I don’t have many moths in my poetry, so am going to settle for re-posting this piece:

Press topography

The glamour magazines enfold a land of generous curves and hills
with diamond mines and silicone, with ups and downs, and switchback thrills.

The esoteric New Age press has strange geometries that try
the patience of traditionalists and have been known to make them cry.

The angles of the tabloid press are sharp and shady, steeped in dirt;
dim yellow light illuminates the edge where innocents get hurt.

The vast savannahs of the broadsheets stretch around the world and back:
a panorama that reveals news and views in shades of black.

And, finally, a photo of a different kind of tiger moth, but still, mostly, in black and white.

Jersey tiger moth

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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