Shortlisted in Poetry Competition

A few years ago I visited an exhibition of Victorian painting at the Royal Academy in London. The painting, The Entomologists’s Dream, 1909, by Edmund Dulac inspired me to write a prose poem. I was so struck by the devastation on the butterfly collector’s face that I felt compelled to create his back story. Although I didn’t know it at the time, Dulac’s original painting was an illustration for a tragic love story.

This work is an illustration for Le Papillon Rouge (the red butterfly) by Gerard d’Houvillehe. The tale explores the supernatural potential of dreams and the hallucinatory power of a moonlit night. 

My poem is a riff on the powerful and sometimes devastating effect of dreams, and last month I got the delightful news that it had been shortlisted in the Fiction Factory poetry competition. The judge was none other than my tutor from Jericho Writers, Helen Cox. The competition was judged blind so she got a (I hope) nice surprise when she discovered I was the author. I hope you enjoy the poem! In the end I felt sorry for the collector, after all, he was only trying to capture the transitory beauty of butterflies as I have attempted to do in my poem.

The Entomologist’s Dream

African Glass Blue, Cinnabar Moth,

Fiery Copper, languish inside glass chambers 

their wings pinned against velvet.

A soft-soled intruder carrying a hammer 

steals in from the dreamer’s underworld.

Years. Collecting. Lost.


Desiccated wings ache into movement.

Antennae twitch, exoskeletons tremble,

pierced thoraxes inhale life-giving

breaths of sequestered air.

Camberwell Beauty and Painted Lady

jeté towards the open window.


The man’s body torques in anguish, 

raging at his confetti of brides escaping.

Wait. Stop. Crouch. 

The Koh-i-Noor of his collection

pauses and settles on the spreading board.

Hands cupped, he leap-frogs towards her.


His work table clatters on its side. All ajangle, tools

of his trade switch allegiance. The entomologist

stumbles back, trying to gain purchase

on a wall that’s now a ghost.

The killing jar breaks into starlight shards,

potassium cyanide kisses the night air,

but, Madagascan moon moth flies home.


About susancarey

Angela writes using pseudonym, Susan Carey. She has dual nationality, GB/NL and lives in Nijmegen. Susan has had short fiction published on multiple platforms and was a runner-up in the 2018 and 2017 Casket of Fictional Delights Flash Competitions. Her writing has also been published and performed by amongst others: Mslexia, Liars’ League, Reflex Fiction, the Casket and of course the wonderful Writers Abroad. In 2020 she published her short story collection, Healer. Tweets at @su_carey
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5 Responses to Shortlisted in Poetry Competition

  1. Jan Kaneen says:

    Absolutely LOVE this. So so lyrically entrancing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jan Kaneen says:

    Absolutely LOVE this. So, so lyrically entrancing.


  3. creativetaffine says:

    Hi Angela, Tried to comment on your poem but for some reason had to log in. Anyway, my comment was

    Great Angela! I love a happy ending! And so beautifully expressed



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