Moth, or: Wick

‘Stepping Off the Sidewalk’ – a d’Verse poetics prompt


Ask no questions of the moth in the candle flame…

Attar (c. 1145 – c. 1221)
fans flames of sheer with gossamer notes
burn dark bright through seared clear words crisp
lick searching for hell's deep heights of
verse parches air thin burning with
a yearning melody leaves shivering all
it warms sighs crying elegies fierce
flashing flaring fiery forms
doomed desperate winged pleadings pierce

At d’Verse, we were asked to write a spiritual-mystical poem using a line from a list of several. We were allowed to use the line as an epigraph at the beginning of the poem. I chose the line written by Attar as my epigraph.

71 thoughts on “Moth, or: Wick”

        1. I am honored to have been knighted by your sword of creative prowess!
          FF is truly honored. May you never get sand in your sandals; SIR Benjamin Alexander!

          1. FF, it’s confusing, I know, but ‘ben Alexander’ actually means ‘son of Alexander’ in Hebrew. (in Arabic, ‘son’ is ‘ibn’.)

            My first name is actually David, and my father’s name was Alexander… so I go by ‘ben Alexander’ here on WP because my Papa’s death led me to create this blog, and I write in his memory.


  1. I can hear the beating of wings in this piece – every line compact with a beat and some punchy internal rhymes too
    “beating doomed pleading to be consumed”. Great title too – it hangs in the air like a question.
    So glad you could join in.
    [Hanukkah Sameach!]

  2. I would not imagine a moth in a candle flame would take too kindly to questioning. Or indeed to be able to form much of an answer. I shall read the original Persian poem for greater illucidation. Perhaps that is your point. Agony, destruction, death, futility.

      1. Would that I could! No, sadly not. But even in translation I find Rumi and others breathtakingly beautiful. And you are right…. Absent “revelation” on a personal level through mysticism, hope is all we have got.

  3. Much clearer now I have read the original. Incredibly moving and profound. I adore sufi poems and can now make a better guess at your meaning. Interesting. All will be revealed but only at the cost of physical death. Transcendance to a better realm. Here’s hoping.

  4. You’ve told the moth’s tale so well here with this stream-of-consciouness style writing. I like this style and how you have interpreted the prompt.

    1. Thank you very much, Ingrid! You know, at first, I was trying to make this particular poem more… ordered – but it just wasn’t working for me so I gave up and let the lines decide themselves 🤷

    1. No. This experience is not one that I would wish upon anyone, Debi, but there are those who do live through something similar.

      Thanks for sharing your reflection 🙂

      All best,

  5. Those little doomed desperate winged creatures would be honored if they knew you wrote a poem about them. They would bask in recognition for only a moment though, before becoming fiery forms. 😀 Well done, David.

  6. Hello Ben thank you for liking the comment I left on Luna’s blog concerning female rage. I have left two more comments there. For me this is one of those issues I feel so strongly about that I do not mince words nor take prisoners.

  7. Doomed and pleading to be consumed….very powerful visual here..almost painful to read and imagine David!
    |Interesting, a feel the soul of Poe in this one, who by the way, was my go-to writer when I was 11 after my father’s death. love the parade of f sounds in line 7. It all rolls off the tongue, when recited out loud.

    1. Originally, I sort of had a concept of the moth being the cause of the never-ending flames, which represent its grief… but I think the poem went in a somewhat different direction.

      What can you do? 🙂


  8. Smiles, poems and characters take on a life of their own…We might start thinking we are writing something, but the more we write. we see, we are not entirely in control…as you say, What can you do? Then, there is the interpretation of each reader, which is also a phenomena..that I actually love.

    1. Yeah, it’s actually quite fascinating. I could see somebody doing a Ph.D. study of what it means for words to have lives of their own and how they speak differently to different people 🙂

  9. David, you’ve turned the butterfly on her ear and spun her up in her shining doomed magnificence. If her going warms others, all the better. The title sets the stage as does the image. You slam-dunked the prompt!

  10. I have often watched and wondered at moths circling light. When I read your very atmospheric poem, the thought crossed my mind that we are all a bit like the moth. We endlessly circle things we think we want, but they have the potential of destroying us. Loved your poem, David! 🙂

  11. Well I wanted to pick a favorite line but I can’t. They all so beautifully work. The beginning and the ending are gorgeously visual and the middle supports the beginning and ending. What more can you ask for in a piece. Lovely work. Hugs 🤗 Joni

      1. My pleasure my friend. Your poem was visual stunning and your use of descriptive words brilliant.

        שיהיה לכם סוף שבוע ושבת מבורכת וחנוכה ❤️🦋

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