Original poem reprinted online here: "A Last Moth of August" by Nance Van Winckel
Originally read: April 3, 2013
More information about the Poet: Nance Van Winckel
The tone of the poem in the first stanza is a bit overwhelming. I think I'm getting a little far ahead of myself. The first three lines describe the moth with the ability to change "the night's mood," and then the speaker makes this declaration, "Change its course, too. Maestro." So there's a sense of humor here, but mockingly.
Immediately, my mind went to two different tones after reading the first three lines -- a cynical spider in the web tone, or a drunken absurd tone. In either case, I feel the tone is a self-reflexive. Well, it's kind of obvious with this line, "do you never tire, as I do,". And so the moth is more of a projection that "trash-talks" or "sassing" in some way.
However I do want to address these lines, "this rolled-up newspaper that eons ago / our progenitors perused / in the sweet half-light." The lines have humor in it because of the hyperbole and comparison to the moth. The moth, a self-reflexive nuisance, is compared to this weird purple prose which exaggerate time, light, and person. Why? This is the part of the humor which tries to distance subject and speaker. Note how the subject changes further away with each technique.
Now the trick, I think, is to get the speaker back to either the projection of self, or the moth, or even go off on a rant with the past. In any case the cynical drunken tone allows this type of reading to go off shoot -- but not taken too seriously no matter the direction.
"Apparently" diffuses the tension of misdirection of the poem. Also the word focuses the speaker a bit more on the subject of the moth through the idea of the season "September." But just as quickly the speaker takes on the more mocking role, "I guess that makes me / your bad news." News also being a pun and a reference to the newspaper "eons ago".
The brevity of "Don't watch" could refer to the news or the moment of capture. The duality sets up the blend of the speaker and the moth becoming one -- image wise perhaps with lines like, "your wingbeats / enter me as I hover,". And since the switch is complete it is the speaker who "trembles as blackbirds bullet by" And the question is why? Why the switch. The line feels like the moment before an epiphany, and I think this is the core of the poem -- the inability to profess an epiphany and let the image and the wording be more a smoke and mirrors of the self as speaker and subject.